I have always wanted to do something ‘big’ for God. To write something awesome. To teach and disciple women individually and in large and small groups. To change lives. I’ve tried from time to time to follow the nudging of the Spirit, but I honestly don’t know if I’ve accomplished any of those hopes, or ever will. But I’ve learned this week, through someone else’s life, that these things are not big, they are little. Doing something ‘big’ for God means simply loving the “least of these” (Matthew 25:40).
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Whose life taught me this? A person I’ll probably never meet this side of heaven: Katie Davis Majors. I’ve just finished her first book, Kisses from Katie, where she tells her story of loving the least because she loves Jesus. Her book first came out in 2012, and I remember the buzz about it. I just never read it.
Honestly, I haven’t read it yet. Instead, I listened to it on audio during my drive home from Florida. It so touched my heart that I ordered the paperback and her second book, Daring to Hope. I will definitely take the time to read and digest both books slowly, savoring both the truth and the story. And I will encourage everyone I know to do the same.
Katie was a typical American teenager except for one thing: she was in love with Jesus. That love led her to abandon the comforts we take for granted, leave her family and boyfriend, and put on hold her plans for college. Her love for Jesus led her to Uganda where she loved the poor, the widows, the sick, the elderly, the children, and especially the orphans.
I don’t want to share too many details, as I hope you will read the book for yourself. Katie – a former homecoming queen – loved them all. But her heart broke for the orphans. Many were orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. Some were simply abandoned by their families who could not care for them. So Katie cared for them. She started a ministry and was a mother to more than a dozen girls by the time she was 20. She wept, prayed, raised funds, learned basic medical skills, and taught about Jesus. But mostly, she loved others – and she loved them to Jesus.
The desperation and destitution of these people of Uganda whom Jesus loves come through clearly in her words. But so does their beauty and hope and love. At times Katie was physically ill from the things she witnessed, but she still loved. At times she longed for those she’d left behind in the United States, but she still loved. At times she had no idea where the money for the needs of the children, the bills, or even food was going to come from, but she still loved. And through it all Jesus showed up gloriously. If you haven’t read the book, get Kisses from Katie today and let Jesus soften your heart.
I am a book lover. Ask anyone who knows me, and they’ll tell you that I love books, love learning new things, and love reading. I can spend hours in a bookstore or library, and lament to myself that there are never enough hours in a day or days in a week to read everything I want to read. I read fiction and non-fiction books, Christian and non-Christian books, books for fun and books for learning. But few books truly affect my heart. Kisses from Katie did.
I literally just finished the audiobook and received the paperback version in the mail yesterday. So, it is way too early to tell how much this book will change me – but I’m looking forward to what happens next.
While listening to the audiobook, my mind would occasionally wander to my life – to the question of “What am I doing because I love Jesus?” It’s a convicting question because right now my answer is ‘not much.’
My husband and I moved from Savannah to West Georgia two years ago to be closer to our children and grandchildren. It was a good decision, but not easy. Between us we’ve gone through four jobs since arriving here. My husband started job #5 on June 3. There are a variety of reasons for this. The point of sharing that, however, is to let you know that we’re not totally settled since our move.
Because of the job changes, schedule changes, and family commitments, I’ve mastered the art of excuse-making when it comes to serving and ministry. We attend a Bible-teaching, Jesus-loving church. But I’ve not found a place a service there. Nor have I tried very hard. Kisses from Katie has convicted me of that.
I do not need to travel thousands of miles to find needy people to serve. They are right here in my community. I do not need to go to Africa to find people Jesus loves and died for. They are all around me, striving, hurting, and needing someone to love them and tell them about eternal love.
The question for me now is “What will I do?”
I’ll tell you the truth – I’ve taken a small step in reaching out to one area ministry. But I need to approach others and be sensitive to the leading of the Spirit. If I am willing, He will lead me to the people He wants me to love.
Now, I’m getting personal. Asking personal questions. Turning the searchlight on your heart and life, just as the Spirit has been turning it on mine. I ask these questions not to accuse, find fault, or even nudge you to ‘good works.’ No, I’m asking because these are the same questions I’m facing in my comfortable, American Christianity. I know that God has so much more for both you and me. But I also know that He will never force either of us to love or serve others. He doesn’t give commands; He issues invitations.
Jesus says simply and quietly, “Come, love those whom I love and died for. Be My hands and feet in this world. See them with My eyes and love them with My love.”
So, the questions….
Jesus loved you enough to die for you. How much do you love Him? What will you sacrifice for Him?
Look around you. Who needs to be loved? Not changed. Not ‘cleaned-up.’ Not given a make-over. Just loved. Who do you see in your life or on the edges of your life that needs to be loved with the love of Jesus? If you see no-one, look harder and look farther.
It’s easy to say, “I love you.” It’s much harder to show that love. It takes commitment, time, energy, and money. It takes a willingness to accept a lack of gratitude (remember -you’re loving them for Jesus, not for praise). It takes humility, grace, forgiveness, and prayer.
Look around your community. What agencies or ministries need your help to meet the needs of people? How can you help? How can you fit loving others into your already-overwhelmed schedule? Do you need to sacrifice TV, movies, dinners out, alone time, hanging-out-with-friends time, or shopping? While the poor and needy in most first-world countries are not nearly as desperate as the poor and needy in Uganda and other third-world countries – they still need love. They still need Jesus. If you know Jesus, you can love them to Him.
I’m asking you the same thing I’m asking myself: “What will you (I) do today to get one step closer to loving the least in my community or around the world?”