Nov 7, 2013

Kisses from Katie // book review

I am a lover of books and enjoy passing along a good read and I have been trying to incorporate that within the blog in the past through my little library tab as well as posts like this one and this one. 
I wanted to be more intentional in writing about books that have stirred my heart and drawn me to see Jesus in a bigger way, so I am going to start writing occasional book review posts, which has been on my heart for some time. I am so excited to share some of the soul-challenging books that are so dear to my heart. Similarly, I would love to hear about what books you all recommend too! I am always eager to find a new book to dive into.

For this first book review, I want to rave all about a book that has left a lasting imprint on my heart:

Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption
[written by Katie Davis]

First off, I want to mention that I often hesitate to read New York Times Bestsellers, especially if they are Christian because I used to think that if they are considered "bestsellers" they probably are filled with feel-good theology and watered-down Truths written to encourage but never convict. Though this may be true for many books that are bestsellers these days, I was humbled and convicted for this assumption as I read Kisses from Katie because it was a book so far away from my preconceived notions. 

Kisses from Katie is a true, autobiographical adventure story of Katie Davis, a modern-day addition to my list of favorite female missionaries: Amy Carmichael, Gladys Aylward, Lydia Prince, and Lottie Moon.  

Katie was first introduced to her beloved Uganda on a two-week trip in December 2006 when she was a 18-years old senior in high school. She had been talking to her parents about going to Uganda for a year after finishing high school and they hoped that a two-week missionary trip would get that thought out of her system and she would continue on to attend a university the following autumn. But God had other plans. Katie fell in love with the children she served within an orphanage and yearned to return to Uganda. After much praying and conversation with her parents, they allowed her to go to Uganda for one year as long as she promised to return to get a degree. She agreed and that summer of 2007, she returned to Uganda to assist as a kindergarten teacher. 

What started off as a year-long commitment began turning into a more permanent missionary call as Katie began fostering orphaned girls in her home. She felt God leading her to show these girls a tangible example of His love by being a mom to them at the ripe age of nineteen. She went on to adopt thirteen precious girls. She also started Amazima Ministries (which means "truth" in the native language of that Ugandan community), which serves children and women in Uganda. The Amazima website explains a bit more of the history:

 "As she walked the children home, she was shocked to see the sheer number of school-aged children sitting idly on the side of the road or working in the fields. She learned there were very few government-run public schools in Uganda, and none in the area where she was working. Most schools in Uganda are privately operated and therefore require school fees for attendance, making impoverished families unable to afford an education for their children. God laid it on Katie's heart to start a child sponsorship program, matching orphaned and vulnerable children who are unable to afford schooling with sponsors anywhere in the world. A annual gift of $300 enables one child to go to school and provides the necessary school supplies, 3 hot meals each day, spiritual discipleship, and medical care. Originally intending to have only 40 children in the sponsorship program, Katie had 150 signed up by January 2008. Today the program sponsors over 600 children."(1)
Along with adopting thirteen girls as her daughters and serving 600 children in the Amazima Ministry, God lovingly placed more opportunities for His love to be shown to the people of Uganda by placing a desire in Katie to reach out the rural community of Masese, who were the poorest of the poor, riddled with disease and malnutrition. A feeding program was started, serving more than 1,200 Masese people in the region. A jewelry ministry was also birthed to help Masese women who were once stuck in prostitution and other harmful lifestyles to honorably earn money for their families. Along with all of these larger minstries, Katie lovingly invited sick people into her home to nurse them back to health, visited dying children and adults in the hospitals (often paying for their medical expenses), and was bold in her defense of the most vulnerable and neglected children in her surrounding community of Uganda.And yet, now in her mid-twenties, she is a beautifully humble woman who deflects the glory from herself and points it only towards God.

“People tell me I am brave. People tell me I am strong. People tell me good job. Well here is the truth of it. I am really not that brave, I am not really that strong, and I am not doing anything spectacular. I am just doing what God called me to do as a follower of Him. Feed His sheep, do unto the least of His people.” (1)

Wow. That is the word that I constantly breathed out as I read chapter after chapter every night; I just could not put this book down! This life, freely abandoned to Jesus for His work in a forgotten village on the other side of the world, was a life full of relentless love. It stirred me to act out of that same relentless love, because just as Katie said, we are all called to feed his sheep by serving the least. It was a daily challenge in the mission field God has called me to in this season, my pediatric primary care clinic I work at in a somewhat rural, socioeconomically depressed city full of heartbreaking stories of their own. Katie's selfless example was a reminder that Jesus was calling me to show that same love to the countless children and teens that I encounter.

I just love how Katie explains the role of Amazima's child sponsorship:

"On a practical level, Amazima's way of sharing these truths (of a bigger, brighter world available to them through education and, more importantly, the truth of a God who created them beautifully in His image, a God who loves  and values and wants the best for them) was first to keep these children alive by providing them with nutritious meals and as much medical attention as possible, and on a deeper level, to teach them of the love of Christ. We wanted to teach them of Jesus who died for them, for all of us. I didn't believe it was possible to tell a child about the love of Christ without simultaneously showing her that love by feeding her, clothing her, inviting her in. If a child has never known what love is, how can we expect him to accept the love of his Savior until we first make that love tangible?
(Kisses from Katie, p.84)

Katie is very honest and raw in her autobiographical tale and even adds journal entries that detailed the journey God had been unveiling for her. She is vulnerable as she recounts times she doubted God's providence and took things in her own hands. Or times she closed the door of her home because she felt thirteen daughters was enough for a girl not old enough to rent a car in the U.S. (I cannot say I blame her!) but is always quick to point everything back to Jesus. This is His work and she is blessed to be part of the redemptive, restorative, and transformational work He is doing. She gets a front-row seat to His work as well as a backstage-pass to glimpse into His work.
Kisses from Katie is more than an autobiography of some heroic young woman who gave up her upper-middle class American lifestyle (which is true), but also encompasses a deeply prayer-driven relationship with a Heavenly Father who relentlessly pursued her, me, you, and those precious faces in Uganda. It is a tale of God working through people who give up their own desires and dreams, lay them down, and trust that His ways are far better. It's a story that shouts this uncomfortable, but oh-so-important truth:

"God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him and He takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible in our lives . . . because in these times, God shows Himself victorious. He reminds me that all of this life requires more of Him and less of me." (pp. 135-136)
Katie beautifully writes about the many lessons God teacher her on a daily basis as she trods the red dusty paths of Masese. "A life changes is worth it, even if only one" (p.205), which is a powerful lesson for those who, like Katie, feel the burden of the many millions of orphans depraved of love, food, education, healthcare, and a home. She has also learned that if she really wants to follow Jesus, she will go to the hard places and explains: "Being a Christ follower means being acquainted with sorrow. We must know sorrow to be able to fully experience joy. Joy costs pain, but pain is worth it. After all, the murder had to take place before the resurrection." (p. 252). Doesn't that just rock your world? Those words send shivers down my spine because they are words that challenge, not soothe or tickle the ear. They are the words of a fighter, a defender of the defenseless. 
So, friends, I heartily recommend that everyone and their mother read Kisses from Katie. It is a book that will take you deeper in your view of a God who loves the forgotten, while also stirring your heart to be on mission wherever He has called you today (whether in your school, workplace, home, or international mission work . . . it is all mission work!). I have added it to my list of all-time favorites and I am sure you will too once you dive into this precious gem of a book!

Want to read more about Katie Davis and Amazima Ministries?
Get your copy of Kisses from Katie from Amazon
Jesus Wrecked My Life by Katie Davis
A video of Katie explaining Amazima
Katie explains her book on the 700 Club
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Have you read Kisses from Katie? What are your thoughts? How did it stir your heart?


  1. I read that book on an airplane trip this summer, and was in tears so many times. I love her story!

    1. Me too!! So inspirational and life-giving!

  2. I've heard of this book. This makes me want to read it even more.

    1. Oh, you soooo should!!! It one of my top favorites now.

  3. I love Kisses from Katie. Have you read "A Dream So Big" by Steve Peifer? It's similar and also really good!

    1. I haven't read it! I will have to google it soon!! Thanks! I LOVE reading about missionaries! SO much better than fiction novels!

  4. I can't wait to read this! I have had it on hold from my library for monthsssss I can't wait to get it!

    1. You'll LOOOOOOVE it!! Tell me what you think of it one you dig in!


I love to hear your thoughts!

Elle Alice