"I quit my life… I quit college; I quit cute designer clothes and my little yellow convertible; I quit my boyfriend. I no longer have all the things the world says are important."
Katie Davis, then an 18-year-old senior class president and homecoming queen living in Nashville, Tennessee, quit everything she knew, and chose to leave behind her family and friends in order go to Uganda for a year-long mission trip to follow God's calling on her life.
Now, almost six years later, Katie is the 24-year-old single mother of 13 adopted girls, founder and director of Amazima Ministries, an outreach that reaches hundreds of children in Uganda, and author of Kisses from Katie, a New York Times best seller. It all started with her saying four simple words: "Yes, Lord, send me."
Katie has always liked helping people. She was the kind of teenager who loved to spend her free time helping at the local homeless shelter, and getting her friends to help too. Given her passion for serving others, it should have been no surprise when she announced on her 16th birthday that she wanted to spend a year doing missions work before she went to college, but her parents were shocked at her desire to go to Africa. "As most parents do, both my mom and my dad wanted to do everything they could to guarantee me a successful, comfortable life, and they felt the best way to secure a 'good' future for me was to provide me with a college education that would prepare me for a career," Katie says.
Katie's parents may not have been sure in the beginning, but their faith has grown since then, and now they are very supportive: Katie's mom is on the Amazima board and participates in speaking engagements nationwide, while her dad commits his time to fundraising.
Constructing Amazima Ministries
After finishing high school, Katie convinced her parents to let her spend a year in Uganda— as long as she promised to return home to attend college. That was 2007. In 2008, after spending a year teaching children at a Ugandan orphanage, Katie founded Amazima Ministries, an organization whose main program is child sponsorship.
"Starting a ministry in Uganda wasn't something I had in mind when I came here," Katie admits. "But it seemed the only logical next step as people approached me needing help and I said yes to meeting their needs."
Hundreds of children are now able to go to school because of Amazima's financial support. Shortly after Katie got Amazima up and running, she realized the children's needs went far beyond attendance at school, so she decided to expand the ministry past educational scholarships. Every afternoon Katie began to open her home to show them the love of the Father through tutoring, treatment of simple illnesses and wounds, and running errands to the local health clinic. Every Friday, Amazima children gather to sing praises to God, hear the Word of God, eat and play together, and take home a package containing a dry ration of food and some soap. For some children, their family's livelihood throughout the week depends on the provisions of that package.