REVIEW: Brave women share journeys of faith
Katie J. Davis. Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption. New York: Howard Books, 2011. 288 pages, $24.
Chai Ling. A Heart for Freedom: The Remarkable Journey of a Young Dissident, Her Daring Escape, and Her Quest to Free China’s Daughters. Carol Stream, Ill.: Tyndale, 2011. 379 pages, $22.99.
God rarely asks easy things of us. He asked Noah to build an ark, Abraham to leave his homeland and journey to an unknown world and Mary to give birth to a child borne of the Spirit.
Our God is the same as Noah’s, Abraham’s and Mary’s. Some-times obeying him means getting off the path toward the future we had planned, leaving behind the comfort that we have always known.
Two new autobiographies tell the stories of contemporary women who have done just that.
“Kisses from Katie” chronicles the journey of Katie Davis, a young woman who left her life as a Nashville, Tenn., college student to serve the poor and suffering in Uganda. At 22, she has founded and runs a nonprofit ministry that provides food, tutoring, medical services and Bible studies to hundreds of Ugandans daily. Perhaps more indicative of Davis’ tender heart, she has become the adoptive mother of 14 Ugandan girls.
A short-term mission trip ignited her passion for the people of Uganda, leading her to postpone college for a year to continue serving.
“I saw myself in those little faces. I looked at them and felt this love that was unimaginable and knew that this is the way God sees me,” she writes.
At the end of the year, although she missed the comforts of family and home, she chose to stay in Uganda.
As a missionary in Argentina with roots in Kansas, I understand the pull of home, and I had great admiration for Davis’ choice. She compellingly describes her attempt to alleviate the enormous need in a developing country as “trying to drain an ocean with an eyedropper.”
Unable to do enough on her own, Davis began to recruit American donors. This led to the foundation of Amazima Ministries, which administers sponsorship for over 400 families, gives small business micro-loans to Ugandan women, provides health care and hosts Bible studies.
Her touching stories and candid voice can move the reader to tears, and other times to laughter.
Each chapter closes with an excerpt from Davis’ diary, where she shares her joys and struggles as she adapts to life in a new culture, deals with homesickness and despair, discovers how to be a parent, and struggles with life, death and poverty.
Davis’ faith and dedication are challenging. We are, after all, not called to be comfortable; we are called to be faithful. While she comes across as idealistic in some instances, we cannot doubt her sincerity or the difference she is making.
This book is an inspiring story of living in faith. It would be especially meaningful for youth ministries or small groups.
Half a world away, Chai Ling was born in a small village in communist China.
A young girl born to a family desiring a boy, she drove herself to achieve greatness in every aspect of life, encountering joys and hardships along the way.
“A Heart for Freedom” is the autobiography of Ling, the only female leader during the 1989 student protests at Tiananmen Square.
Following the government shutdown of the protests and massacre of hundreds of students, which Ling narrowly escaped, she made her way to America. In her new life, away from her family, Ling went on to graduate from Princeton and Harvard Business School, intern on Capitol Hill, and lead a successful career in business.
Now a Chinese-American married mother of three girls, Ling created All Girls Allowed in 2010, a ministry that works to end China’s one-child policy and what she calls the “gendercide” of millions of Chinese girls each year.
Her intelligence and drive is apparent throughout her book. Ling provides a firsthand look into the events leading to the protests in Tiananmen Square. All of her life, Ling had a longing for something bigger than herself. She pursued democracy, hoping to find fulfillment.
“I now see that the thirst I had is the longing for freedom placed in our hearts by God,” she writes.
Ling is open and forthright as she shares her story. She bares her struggles and self-doubt, sharing the pain of her broken marriage and the abortions she underwent in China.
While Ling’s book is an incredible insight into China, it lacks details about the influence of Christ in her life. Indeed, she has been a Christian only for three years, so she is still growing in her faith and knowledge. Ling’s faith is only mentioned in the first and last few pages of the book. She does, however, attribute her current ministry and direction to Christ.
“God used the Tiananmen events to save me and free me … I see I’m completely helpless unless I trust and rely only on him,” she writes.
In addition to being a suspenseful, well-told memoir, Ling’s book provides great insight for churches or individuals ministering to Chinese-Americans. It would also be a blessing for those who are considering Chinese adoption, or women who have experienced abortion.
These two women are working in faith to change the world. May these books challenge us to do the same in our communities and circumstances.
DANIEL MCGRAW, a graduate of Harding School of Theology in Memphis, Tenn., works with the Let’s Start Talking ministry at the Caballito Church of Christ in Buenos Aires, Argentina.