We have had one of those really great days when I can’t stop praising Jesus for this life. The girls are on holiday from school (thank goodness because almost all of them have had the chicken pox!). Today I managed to clip all of their 140 fingernails and 140 toenails, file them and paint them. On a quick trip to the pharmacy I found surgical gloves almost small enough to fit my child-sized hands. During nap time I got to sneak in a long, quiet run. Chocolate chip cookies are in the oven. I feel so full and so very blessed.

But as I sit down, content, something is weighs heavy on my heart. Something that I have been milling over for some time, unwilling to write about it because my words seem too inadequate to describe the ache I feel. However, I know that this is urgent. An emergency. And as adequate as my words may be, maybe I should at least try.

It started a few months ago when my great friends Mike and Suzanne were here to adopt their daughter. In finding out she had HIV, they were obviously broken. Mike made a statement that stirred something within me. He said, “I guess you know that children are out there suffering. You know that children are sick, this sick. But it is different when it is your child. It’s just different.” And it is. I don’t mean this blog to criticize you in any way, Mike, because what you said was true for me too. It is different when it is my child. I spend countless nights awake with dying, or at least critically sick, children. I love them and I cuddle them. I sponge bath them and give them their medicine and wipe up their vomit. I hold them and pray over them and tell them how special they are and how Jesus loves them. My heart really does hurt for them. But it doesn’t hurt the way it hurts when I think one of my own children is close to death. It doesn’t hurt the way it does when Sumini’s fever just won’t go down or when Patricia is up all night coughing with her third case of pneumonia in three months. It doesn’t hurt the way it does when Margaret’s teeth run into Agnes’s eyebrow and I can see her bone, and then watch in terror as the doctor stitches it up WITHOUT anesthetic. Somehow, when it is my children, there is a bit more urgency, a bit more panic. There is a bit more frustration at the lack of medical care we can receive here and a bit more google searching of what to do. I am not saying that I am proud of this. I am just letting you know that it isn’t just you I have held several children as they died of inadequate medical care. It was horrible and I grieve and cried, but I promise you that I wasn’t as devastated as I would have been had it been one of my daughters. Its ugly, but its true.

Its just different when its your child who’s suffering. But should it be? This is what I have been struggling with. I believe that this is a normal human reaction. I also believe it is WRONG. I believe that each human on the planet is God’s child, perfectly made and beloved and cherished by Him. I believe that His heart hurts like mine does, even more than mine does, when my baby is hurting for EACH and every one of the hurting, dying, starving, crying children in our world at this moment. So I HAVE to believe that if my heart was truly seeking to be aligned with the heart of God, that I would have to hurt for each of these children as well. But sometimes, I forget. Sometimes I’m busy. Sometimes hurting for my very own children just feels like enough. I believe that the world says that this is ok. And I believe it is wrong. And this keeps me up at night.

Angelina is seven years old and barely weighs 15 pounds. You remember that picture that was made popular in the 1980’s during the famine in Ethiopia of that little girl (who looked like a bag of bones) curled up next to a vulture? That girl doesn’t look nearly as sick as Angelina. Her mother has not had any food to give her in over four months. When Angelina musters enough energy to let out a cry of hunger (she is far to weak to walk or even hold her head up on her own), her mother gives her some locally brewed alcohol to keep her quiet. For four months, keeping her a little drunk has actually probably been what is keeping her alive. The dirt floor where she has been laying her whole life accumulating bedsores is covered in waste, animal and human. Jiggers burrow deep into her little feet causing them to crack and bleed. She is naked, filthy, and cold. It is far worse than appalling.

I bet right now at this moment your heart is sad for her. Is it as sad as it would be if Angelina were your daughter? Angelina is God’s daughter. His heart aches for this perfect, wonderfully made child of His. Her circumstances do not surprise Him, but I have no doubt that they grieve Him tremendously.

And it’s not just children, because we are all children in His eyes. Grace is maybe 60 years old but looks to be pushing 100. She can’t weigh more than 85 pounds. Grace is a mother to six children, but 4 have died of AIDS and the other two have deserted her for a better life. She lives in a 4 by 4 foot room that is pitch black, but she doesn’t mind; in addition to being to weak to walk, Grace is blind. She NEVER has any visitors. At night her bones ache against the hard dirt floor and her feeble body shivers with cold. A cough racks her body and her stomach rumbles in hunger making sleep impossible.

Its sad, huh? How sad though? Sad enough that we want to do sometime about it? Sad enough that we will remember Grace tonight as we snuggle down into our beds or next month as we pay the bills? Maybe. But maybe not. Because it hurts, but it doesn’t hurt that much. It doesn’t hurt the way it would if Grace was your grandmother all alone there in the dark. It does for God. Because Grace is His.

As I snuggle both these sweet girls, as I kiss their cheeks, as I spoon Pediasure into Angelina’s little mouth or watch Grace rejoice over the gift of a scraggly old blanket, I allow the tears to fall. The tears that hurt for these people as if they were my family. Because they are my family. And it SHOULD hurt. It shouldn’t be different. I desire for it to never again be different.

We are the body of Christ. But do we know what that means? Do we long for our brothers and sisters to be comfortable and fed and well? Do we long for it enough that we are uncomfortable under our blankets at night or eating our pancakes in the morning? Do we feel the hurt that God feels as He watches the body of Christ sit back and allow these precious children of his to perish? Maybe sometimes. But sometimes, we are too busy, or we forget, or hurting for our own children is enough. We are the body of Christ. We need to hurt. We need to react. Their needs to be the same urgency and panic and frustration and desperation as if these were our own children. They are God’s children.

Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Angelina. Thank you for Grace. Thank you for creating them perfectly in your image, your precious, beloved children. Thank you for your beautiful plan for their lives and thank you for bringing them into mine. Thank you that they are YOURS. Help me to hurt. Not just a little, but the way you hurt when your children are overlooked and perishing. me to never be too busy or too comfortable to remember the people who suffer. Help me to never stop desiring to do something about it. Lord help us to remember that as the body of Christ, this is our responsibility. Thank you for loving us, even when we forget. I never, never want to forget again.

88 thoughts on “

  1. Thanks, Katie, for putting it out there.

    We so often see the commands of Jesus to love, to lay down our lives, to take up our cross, to sell all, and know we should revere them, but do not really take them seriously. They become iconic phrases, because they are clearly unreasonable to really expect to live by, aren't they?

    I believe they are exactly what He meant…and if you would find your life, you have to lose it. Why do we think we will understand God, who is infinite, omniscient, etc to the nth degree, and so feel the right to either outright ignore, or at least modify His words? We know better?

    If you read Oswald Chambers, I think it is the July 27 devotion in “My Utmost for His Highest” that says: “…spiritual knowledge comes from obedience…if we would know better, we must do what He has told us to to already” [paraphrased]

    If you don't read ol' Oswald…I think you will find a resonance that only comes from really laying your life down.

    Kierkegaard said something along the lines that “the bible is clear, but we Christians are sneaky and schemers. We act like we didn't hear, or understand, and so we feel safe in not obeying. WE are sure, if we obey the words of Jesus, it will ruin our lives!”

    One comment said they thought you were saying that we should each try to do better. I think you, and your Lord, were being a little more radical than trying to do better….We are not God, but why do we think that excuses us form giving our Utmost for His Highest?

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  2. I am constantly reading your words, so clearly from a heart full of God's grace, and I am always left challenged, reassured, amazed. But today I am utterly convicted.

    Thank you Katie. Thank you for the courage to be honest, to explore the feelings we have been taught are “right,” but should always question.

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  3. Katie – Your blog was passed along through a newsletter from a man who runs a basketball academy where my son practices. God has gifted you in more ways than you know- not only do you have the strength to love and care for these children, so far away from everything comfortable and convenient to you, but you have the gift of words and the ability to touch the lives of people whom you have never met and may never meet. Myself included. We will be praying for you and all your children this Thanksgiving and we sit down at our table in comfort. What blessings we take for granted…May God continue to bless you and give you the strength you need to carry the burdens of all you care for.

    In Him-
    Shelby

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  4. Katie, thanks for being honest with your heart and thoughts….things many of us think about yet are too afraid to sometimes vocalize, or too uncomfortable (too convicting) to deal with. There have been times in my life where it seems like bad news is coming in waves, unbearable, hearbreaking waves. It has been almost “crushing” as one writer, Connie, posted. During those times of feeling floored by grief for just a handful of those I know (sometimes don't know) and their situations, I am then reminded of one of the very core attributes of God, as Francis Chan wrote about, and that is God's holiness. Holiness is his “set apartness” in that He is unlike anyone here on earth, unlike anyother anywhere, and unlike me, has the unfathomable ability to carry the sorrows of the world and yet still keep the world in motion. Not only that, but He is able to simultaneously feel joy for others while grieving a deep grief. I personally am in awe of His ability to do this. I totally agree that our “lines” we draw on whose suffering affects us more are not God's heart, but equally I am convinced that I cannot grieve to the capacity that Father does, as I am limited. So for whatever that is worth πŸ™‚ Praying for you all…

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  5. I too hurt for others. Maybe not the way I “should” hurt. I'm so caught up in my petty little life, my problems, my pain… I am so selfish sometimes. Thank you for the reality check. My prayers are so selfish… know that i'm directing my prayers towards you this moment, right now I pray for you, for these children and families. Dear God, please bring comfort and peace to Katie, to her children, to your children. Please take care of them, let them feel your love and comfort this very moment in time… make yourself known to them dear God!

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  6. Thank you for this reminder. I have just recently stumbled upon your blog by a friend who recently found it. As I read your posts, I am broken by the suffering, and yet encouraged by your faith. As I was looking at your pictures God really spoke to me and asked if I would go anywhere He sent me, I answered “Yes”. Thank you for being a part of my answering God's call. So proud to have a sister-in-Christ like you that is changing the world!
    Resting in His love,
    Amanda

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  7. So much to absorb. Once our eyes have been opened, we can't be silent.

    You are onto the right track here. This same feeling is running RAMPANT in cyberspace as God calls more and more of His children to be BROKEN for the things that break His own heart.

    Keep on spreading the truth here Katie. Praying …

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  8. Katie, have you heard of life straw? It's a potential life safer purifies the water through a straw. My brother-in-law has been working on it. Let me know if you have heard of it. We need to get the word out~
    Jean

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  9. hi Katie – writing from San Jose, CA. After I gave birth to my son 5 years ago, my heart broke for orphans…i couldn't stand that there are children without parents, so we answered the call & adopted a 2 year old from a Siberian Orphanage. I am learning that doing the right thing is not always the most convenient or easy road. My heart continues to break for orphans & i'm often overwhelmed by the need in the world…it's too much at times…i can barely handle at times loving this child who has no biological connection to us…i enjoyed reading your post, i agree with you & i struggle with those questions myself.

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  10. Hi Katie,
    I needed to read this tonight. Because tonight I was worried about my foster son's court date(in 4 days), abused women in Rwanda, the cavities in my daughter's little mouth, and the overall state of my family life. And I was overwhelmed. Your post has left me realizing that communicating with the Father is how we know Him, and how He is able to live in us and allow us to love. To react to each situation that He has given us in HIS Way.
    And right now my 4 year old, as I am writing this, asked, “Mom, why hasn't God been talking to me lately?” So we immediately prayed, that we would know Jesus and that He would talk to us and that we would be good listeners. BEAUTY.
    And now we will pray for you and your girls and for Grace and Angelina as well.

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  11. bless you for your beautiful words inspired by a heart of true compassion and love.
    I have read this blogpost several times allowing it to penetrate my heart and use as a call to action.
    Thank you for your obedience to go, to love and to use your life for the glory of God
    because of HIS love,
    julia

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  12. thank you, katie. wow. God is using you in extraordinary ways. you words are powerful. your faith is inspiring. no words here can express how absolutely amazed we are by you. your heart is so full of the Father and His love. we pray for you and your children daily. you challenge us to live differently and open our eyes. thank you. we would love to help more. can we mail you and your family items you need?

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  13. Katie, you are an amazing human being.I'm left speechless with your post. It is very true though.We get so caught up in our day to day that we loose sight of what's important.It's not right that there are 147 million orphans out there. It's not right that these children are perishing. As Christians we should all be up at night thinking about this. When you know the truth you have to live it out. You my dear are one that lives out the truth, we should all be more like you. You are in my prayers.

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  14. Katie,
    I live down the street from Andy and Andrea Stover. They are wonderful neighbors. I learned about your work from Andrea and have begun reading your blogs. What a beautiful entry (Nov. 20th). I needed to read that and appreciate your thoughts. Thank you for reminding me that I need to have the love of Jesus Christ for everyone, just like He does.

    Have a wonderful day! May the Lord continue to bless and keep you in His care.

    Kaletra

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  15. Thank you for opening my eyes. I've been spiritually struggling with just what God wants for my life and seeing what He is doing in yours has given me a sense of overwhelming peace. God is alive and working in each one of us in this life and I hope I can do my Heavenly Father proud.

    Kinsley

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  16. Thank you for the beautiful and humbling reminder.

    Lately, I have been feeling so overwhelmed by the need and the thought that I, as just one person cannot possibly help them all but you have once again pointed me back to the truth. I may not be able to save them or fix all the problems in the world but I can love them like Jesus loves them and can pray for them and I can do what I can in the time that I can to help those that I can.

    It is so true though that my heart aches for my own children's pain so much more than for the pain of others and I agree with you that although that is certainly socially accepted and “normal”, it isn't how God loves or how He wants us to love.

    Thank you for your honesty. My prayers go with you, your girls, Angelina, Grace, and all the people whose lives you will be touching by your deeds and by your words in the coming months, both there and here.

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  17. Katie..I just typed a very long comment…then cut it an used it for my own blog post…but THANK YOU FOR THE EXHORTATION TO STOP BEING SO SELF_CENTERED AND LOVE SOMEONE, IN JESUS NAME!!

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  18. Katie,

    My family and I pray for you each day. Sometimes I read portions of your blog to my kids….
    My children have been wondering about 4 year old David. They have been praying for him and keep asking me if I emailed you yet!

    Thanks and Blessings to You!

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  19. Katie, you are absolutely beautiful in every way. It is incredible how soft and open your heart is after seeing so much poverty. I love that you still associate yourself with their suffering and challenge all your followers to do the same. I just moved to Uganda last week and reading your blog gives me so much hope for what God can do if I will just choose to love one child at a time.

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  20. Thank you, Katie. Thank you for all of the good you are doing for God's children in Uganda. Thank you for sharing your life with us. Thank you for making us stop and consider how we can be better people, better Christians. You are an inspiration. God bless you!

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  21. Katie,
    Keep up your amazing work! Your understanding and compassion far surpasses your years. You inspire me! I am a social worker for foster teens in Los Angeles. I go out to find their families & do everything I can to return them. I hurt for my kids, but not enough. I agree with you that it is not enough and is not God's will to care only about our own little plot in life. He wants us to open our hearts and minds and reach. To love more and live bigger. Please keep sharing your thoughts and journey with us.
    I'm sending you and your girls love and prayers for continued to safety and health and happiness together.
    xoxo
    Natalie Stewart Graham

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  22. “Heal my heart and make it clean
    Open up my eyes to the things unseen
    Show me how to love like You have loved me
    Break my heart for what breaks Yours
    Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause
    As I walk from earth into eternity”

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  23. Katie, it's amazing that you wrote these very words- because God has been dealing with me on my heart on imaging forth Jesus; how to do this in a tangible action, and why I don't act more often to perfect strangers who are also created in God's image and part of the body of Christ.
    We can only have a better understanding of how God love and cares for each of his children by having children of our own and coming to that realization that that is how we shoulc care for all of the body of Christ. you are a blessing and an encouragement.. God has used put the words on paper in how he has been changing my heart! thank you or your obedience!!!!

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  24. Katie- I praise the Lord for the words He gives you to write. I have been having trouble sleeping because of the burden on my heart about so many needs (especially children) and you're right…it should keep me up at night. It should stay on my heart. I think it's so much easier to push it to the side and try not to feel that way. Raw emotions are so hard for us…making us realize that we are not in control. It's overwhelming not to be able to fix everything for everyone and so we try to occupy ourselves with other things that we can control. It should stay on our hearts and it should continue to overwhelm us. Thank you for the reminder that it's not a bad thing…to stay utterly broken for His hurting children.

    Thank you also for your story of obedience with Grace. What a testament to God and what can happen if we first of all listen, and secondly obey. Thank you for being so real with your own struggles when it comes to obedience. I am so thankful for your example and so thankful that I get to share in your ministry, hear your stories, and be a part of your life in some small way. You've blessed my life in so many ways. Thank you for being obedient to the Lord and transparent in your journey.

    Is there an address that we can send a care package to for you?

    With love in Christ- Ashley Keylor

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  25. “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, ESPECIALLY unto them who are of the household of faith.” Gal. 6:10

    I deleted my comments on the above verse. Instead I will let the truth of it speak for itself.
    Mary

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  26. Katie—

    I have posted your story at my blog. I pray that it will garner more support for your ministry there in Uganda.

    Praying for you today,
    Elysa MacLellan
    Former missionary to Swaziland
    (Hopefully future one as well)

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  27. Katie, I listened to your interview this morning on my way to work (I am a nurse in Chicago, live in Indiana). I was deeply touched by your story of your life and your calling from God. Even though you may not want to hear this…I envy the closeness you seem to have with the Lord….I am still working on my personal relationship. May God continue to bless you..even though you have difficult, heartbreaking times..we need more people like you in this crazy world we live in.

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  28. I was just introduced to your blog by my friend Krista. She lives in Nairobi with her husband and her son. They moved there from the states a few months ago. Anyways, I live here in Nolensville, Tn and your postings have been a tool that has reminded me of my hearts desire from back when I was a child…as a child I wanted to do just what you are doing. But I didn't make good choices for several years, and now at 29 I feel like I can't do what your doing anymore, that I've lost my chance. And maybe you have some insight, or some truth on my excuses. I am a single mom of a little boy, never married, no prospects. And I am terrified of following my heart because of the possibility of what danger lurks around my child. I was not a fearful person until I had my son. I've gotten better over the years, as he is now 5 yrs old. But my fear still stops me from putting my hearts desires into action.
    That aside, I had an opinion on your post about caring/grieving for children not our own as if they were our own. I may be wrong but I was thinking, “what if I grieved for every unfortunate soul out there? If my child were sick, I would be strong in the company of my child, but in private I would fall apart. If he were to die, I'd want to climb into the coffin right next to him and go be with Jesus with him, because my life without him is nothing, I feel there is nothing to live for.” So with those thoughts in my head about how I would react to my child being ill or dying, and apply that same amount of grief to everyone else on this earth, if we all did that…nothing would get done. No one would work, or eat or sleep. Because I know when someone I love has died, that's exactly how I react. God has given us an ability to move on from our grief and find joy after some time has passed. But if we were to feel that way about everyone, the grief would be unending because someone is always sick and dying. So I feel that it is Gods grace that we don't grieve for other people children like we do our own because we would be a mess 24/7. Instead, I believe we can love those children and pray for them as if they were my own. Do you feel differently? Because I am open to changing my view if someone or God shows me differently.
    On a side note, your recent posting about the costs of following where God was leading you, leaving the love of your life really stuck a cord in me. I often wonder if the love of my life, the reason it didn't work out is because perhaps God has a different plan, one that I wouldn't necessarily choose for myself, but willing to because its what He wants for me.
    Anyways, your amazing and inspiring and I would love to meet you one day if your ever visiting home, maybe one day we could meet.
    Sarah.

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