Serving the Hurting
About the Guest
Katie Davis Majors talks about the lives of the people she’s served while in Uganda. She also tells the story of how her husband, Benji, proposed and how her daughters were able to witness it.
Serving the Hurting
Bob: As a single mother, a parent to 13 adopted children, Katie Davis Majors was surprised when a young man, also living in Uganda, began pursuing her.
Katie: He asked me out twice; and it was in the middle of, I think, just a hard season for me personally. Both times I said, “No”; and the second time, I really said like, firmly, “No”—like, “Hey,”—
Barbara: “Don’t ask again now.”
Katie: —“I hope we can still be friends; but if we can’t, it’s okay. We can’t—we can’t do that. No. No; thank you.”
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, December 20th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. How Katie Majors went from a firm “No,” to becoming Mrs. Benji Majors—we’ll hear that story today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I want to meet Benji Majors sometime; don’t you?
Dennis: I do!
Bob: I mean, I just want to meet the guy who was persistent and met a determined young woman and was determined to win her.
Dennis: I want to hear the story of whether or not he went to Uganda in search of Katie Davis, author of Kisses from Katie. [Laughter]
Bob: I’m just curious about Benji. You told us earlier that there was a guy who was living out in the house behind your house. You called Benji and said, “Would you want to come disciple him?” Benji said, “Sure.” I’m thinking: “Yes; Benji wanted to take you out. I would have come and discipled him and say, ‘I’ll be there every day to disciple him if it gets me a little closer to you.’” Do you think that was in the back of his mind?
Katie: At that point, no; I don’t think so. [Laughter]
Dennis: Are you sure though?
Katie: No! [Laughter]
Barbara: Yes; that was a hesitant yes. So, yes; I think that’s right.
Dennis: Well, Katie is the author of a new book, Daring to Hope. She is now married. She is a mom of 14—13 of whom—a baker’s dozen of Ugandan little girls, who are becoming, even against Katie’s will, young ladies. They are growing up—
Katie: Yes. Isn’t that true?
Dennis: —growing up on her here.
I want to ask you my favorite question, but I’m going to ask you to wait to answer it—
Dennis: —until the end of the broadcast. Here is my question: “What’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in all of your life?” Now, don’t answer right now—I’m going to give you a moment to think about it—but courage is doing your duty in the face of fear.
I’ve got a sneaking suspicion, because of your book, Daring to Hope, that you’ve got a definition or two that comes from your book that you’d share with our listeners; but to get there, what I want to first have you do is tell us about the woman who had five children, who was dying of TB and HIV, who came to you.
Her name was Katherine. Tell our listeners that story of how you cared for her.
Katie: Katherine came to live with us when she became very ill. Her five children, under the age of ten, were sponsored by Amazima; so we were paying for their school.
Dennis: Okay; let’s just stop here. Amazima is an organization you run in Uganda.
Katie: Yes. We—our goal is really to disciple families and to empower the families to stay together. About 80 percent of children in institutions in East Africa actually have one living parent; and they end up institutionalized just due to financial poverty. Their parents cannot afford to pay for them to go to school, or to pay for their medical care, or to pay for their food; so they send them to these institutions.
That was something that was very shocking to me the first year that I lived in Uganda, and I really desired to try to change the system.
Through financial sponsorship of school fees, and some food, and some basic medical provision, Amazima works to keep these children with their biological family members; but of course, the heartbeat of our organization is really that, in doing that, we would form a relationship with these families and lead them to Christ.
Dennis: Katherine was one of those moms who had experienced the care of your organization.
Katie: Yes; so we were in relationship with her and had known her for a few years through her children; and she just got sicker and sicker to the point where she wasn’t really able to take care of her children very well. She moved over to our house so that I could help her out with her children and, also, because our house is very close to the local hospital, and she needed a little more immediate access to medical care. We were just down the street from the doctor she was seeing.
They lived with us for several months. I truly, really, believed that God was going to heal her of her illness—that she would become healthy and strong again.
I had imagined it in my head—the happy ending, where she would move out with her children.
We always throw a bit of a celebration for people who have lived with us for a season and get to move out on their own again. We’ve had many families, especially struggling single mothers, live with us over the years. We always have a big celebration when they become well, or they finally find a job, or their child is finally healthy enough, and they can move out. I really thought that that would be the case with Katherine and her family as well; and she did get better for some time, but then she began to deteriorate very quickly.
Dennis: She passed away.
Katie: She did.
Dennis: You compared your experience to the prophet Habakkuk and how he had to deal with some disappointments as well. You learned through that disappointment that there isn’t always a happy ending to the story—but in this case, there was a happy ending to the story because—
Dennis: —she went to heaven.
Katie: Yes; absolutely. That’s what Habakkuk says—right?—that though the olive crop fails, though the leaves wither, though there are no sheep in the pen—basically, even if I can’t see it, still I will hope / still I will rejoice in God my Savior. I felt like that was something God was teaching me in a season where I had really thought we would see it—we would see a happy ending where she stayed alive. God showed me—still I can rejoice, even though things didn’t go my way.
Barbara: I remember discovering that verse when our children were teenagers. They were starting to kind of press the limits a little bit and push back on us. I discovered that verse, and I thought, “This is a perfect verse for a mother—
Barbara: —“of children of all ages; but especially, teenagers.” I think the oldest was only 15 at the time; but I remember, when I read that, I just hung on to that because I thought: “Lord, there is no guarantee—
Barbara: —“that all the best parenting, all the prayer—none of that guarantees that my children will choose You, they will choose to live a good life, they will be responsible / they’ll be productive. They’re no guarantees. It could all fail. It could all be gone. Will I trust You if You do that?” It was a real turning point in my life; because I said, “Okay; God, I will. I will choose to believe You even if none of my children flourish / there is no green on the vine.”
Katie: And isn’t that the hardest part of parenting—
Katie: —is just that moment when you realize, “Even if I do everything perfectly,”—which I’m not—
Barbara: Which we’re not—none of us do.
Katie: —“but even if I did,—
Katie: —“there is no guarantee—
Katie: —“there is going to be any fruit here. There’s no guarantee that these—that they are going to choose Christ in their own lives, and they have to choose it for themselves.” That’s the scariest part of it for sure!
Barbara: Yes; exactly, because it’s not something that we can do for them.
Bob: Bryan Loritts, who is a pastor in Northern California, who is a part of The Art of Parenting video series that’s coming out before long, makes the observation: “God is a perfect Father. God has rebellious children.”
Barbara: Yes; lots of rebellious children. [Laughter]
Bob: So, think about that—here’s a perfect Father with rebel kids. Why should we think that we, as imperfect parents, will be spared a little rebellion in our home?—right?
Dennis: No doubt about it. Just as Barbara was talking about, we have learned a bunch about God’s love for us as we have loved our kids and watched them struggle in their faith, from time to time.
Katie, I know from reading your book that you have learned a lot about the love of God through the 14 children that you have.
Katie: Oh, absolutely; because even—you know, as a parent, you see so clearly that, even when you are disciplining your children, it’s not out of this place of anger toward them or hatred toward them—
—it’s out of such this place of love and a desire for good things to come in their lives.
I think I’ve understood so much more that—when God disciplines me in my own life, when God tells me to go in a direction that I don’t really feel like I want to go, or when God even brings me through a difficult time—it is His love that does that to shape me, to change me, to teach me; because He wants good things for me. I think, as parents, when we feel that love for our children, we can see it so much more clearly from God’s vantage point.
Dennis: Yes; I really agree.
Katie, before we get too far away from the story of Katherine, who died, and her five children—what happened to those five? Did you adopt them?
Katie: I didn’t. They did stay with us for a little while, immediately following her death.
Then, we placed them with a biological aunt, who they lived with for some time; but that situation was never really good. The aunt was very young, and she was also struggling. She didn’t have any biological children, so she had never parented before; and the children were really suffering there with her. We would provide food, and we would drive out there to visit them; but it just never seemed to be a good situation.
I was just getting desperate, just praying, asking the Lord what I should do. I mean, the idea of having five more children come to my house was a lot. At the same time, I was not clearly seeing another option. They were a sibling set of five—like there aren’t many families that are willing to take that on, even in the foster care system.
I had gone to visit my friend, Rose. Before I started talking, she said, “You know, my daughter Helen”—who had been a good friend of my daughters and was in and out of our house a lot—she said:
“My daughter told me about what happened to the mom of those kids. I’m so sorry. God’s just put it on my heart to really pray for them; but also, just to ask you: ‘Is there anything they need?—even, maybe, do they need a place to go?’”
Of course, I like start to weep and just said: “Oh, I can’t even tell you—that has been on my heart all week. I’ve been praying.” I was even just telling a good friend of mine earlier that same day—like, “I do not know what we’re going to do for these children, but I feel like—I told their mom, before she died, that I would make sure they were okay. It feels like a lot of responsibility.”
Rose and I talked for several more hours that day about what it would mean for her to start fostering them. About a month later, we went through all the paperwork process; and social workers visited with both families.
About a month later, we are able to help move Katherine’s five children into Rose’s home.
Dennis: You know, I just marvel at your acts of courage to care for Katherine as she died, to care for her children after she died, and also your courage in developing a relationship with a young man called Benji.
Bob: Yes; you talked about how unusual it is for somebody to take five kids in as foster kids. [Laughter]
Katie: That is a little ironic; isn’t it?
Barbara: Yes; it is.
Bob: How unusual is it for a young man to say, “I’m going to be the husband to a mom of 13?!”
Katie: Yes; it’s not usual.
Barbara: It’s not normal.
Dennis: So, he asked you out twice before you said, “Yes.”
Katie: He did. He asked me out a couple of times; and both times, I said, “No.” The second time, I really said, like firmly, “No,”—like, “Hey,—
Barbara: Like “Don’t-ask-again” no?
Katie: —“I hope we can still be friends; but if we can’t, it’s okay.” [Laughter]
Dennis: It was a “Dear John.”
Katie: “We can’t do that. I’m—no. No; thank you.”
So, then, really, after that, I think I got to watch his heart on display a lot more; because I trusted that he wasn’t going to ask me again. He was very respectful in that—he didn’t really come over as much after that. He was still discipling the man that lived in the back of our yard, but he would come—he would go straight to Mack. He would spend his time with him, and he would leave. He would not come say, “Hello,” to me / he would not try to make conversation. I mean, I felt very respected in that—that he didn’t. He heard what I said, and he didn’t push the boundaries.
I got to watch him and his heart for people, and for service, and truly for the gospel through that. He was also attending this large Bible study that we all went to on Wednesday nights.
He often led worship or even led the teaching at that Bible study. I was just—I was so attracted to his heart for the Lord. I was telling my good friend, like: “Oh my gosh. I think I like him; but now, I can’t tell him; because he’s never going to ask—he’s not going to ask me out again. There is no hope.” So, I did—I had to call him and ask him if he would come over for coffee; and he said, “No.” [Laughter]
Barbara: He didn’t want to risk it again; huh?
Katie: Well, yes! I mean, I had said so—
Katie: —clearly that I didn’t want to date him. What was he going to be doing having coffee with me? Why would you have coffee with a young, single female that wasn’t going to date you? [Laughter] So, I had to beg and plead a little bit, you know: “Please, I need to talk to you about something important. Can you come? Can we just—can we just have a cup of coffee?” So, he finally said, “Yes.”
Dennis: Oh no! You’ve got to say—
Barbara: And he said?
Dennis: Yes?—what happened over the cup of coffee?
Katie: Well, then, I was so nervous.
I made like dumb small talk the whole time; right? So, after about an hour, he’s looking at his watch; and he’s like—
Katie: —“Okay; well, this was nice. I think I’m going to go.” So, then, I just kind of blurted out some words that probably didn’t even make sense—like: “You know, I was thinking / I was wondering if, maybe—do you want to like—we could spend more time together, you know, intentionally; you know?”
Barbara: Real coherent; right?
Katie: Right; exactly. He’s just kind of looking at me; and finally, he said, “Like—like dating?” I said, “Well, yes.” He said, “Okay; I’m going to pray about that,” and he left! [Laughter]
Dennis: He didn’t go for the bait!
Katie: What I didn’t know, at the time—which is amazingly the Lord’s provision and just further confirmation that we both really were trying to seek after Him—
—was that he had been in conversation, earlier that week, with some of his supporters in the States about whether or not his time in Uganda was coming to a close. He felt like he had pretty effectively discipled these 30 men. They were all kind of going out into the world and starting churches and discipling other young men. He felt like: “Okay; I could kind of take under my wing another group,” or “I could just keep in touch with this group via Skype and internet. Maybe, my time here is coming to a close.”
He had been in conversation with people about whether or not he was moving back when he got my phone call asking him to come to coffee. What I didn’t know, when he said he needed to pray about this, was this was a much bigger decision than “Am I going to date this girl?” This was a decision for him of: “Is there more of life for me in Uganda right now?”
Dennis: And so, how long did you date?
Katie: Probably, almost a year from that point until we got engaged; and then, we were engaged for about eight months.
Dennis: Time out. How did he propose?
Katie: It was so sweet. He actually—he’s such a good dad—he took all the girls out for ice cream earlier in the week. He just said to me like—and he would do this sometimes—he would say: “I’m going to take the girls out to eat,” or “I’m going to take them down to the river to play for a little bit so that you can get some quiet.” He had taken the girls out for ice cream and took them over to his house, actually, and sat them all down and said: “I would like to propose to your mom. What do you think about that?” They all gave feedback; and then, he let them help him plan how he would propose to me.
Barbara: That’s so sweet!
Katie: He showed them the ring, and he let them—
Barbara: So sweet.
Katie: —he let it be a family affair, which I just loved that he knew my heart well enough to know that I would have felt like something was missing if they hadn’t been a part of that.
Actually, our best friends came to babysit the girls; and he took me back over to his place. There was a picnic laid out—his yard is kind of right on the edge of the lake that we live nearby—and he proposed. Then, as soon as I said, “Yes,” all our girls came running out of the bushes. They had watched the whole thing.
Barbara: Oh how sweet! Oh, I love it.
Katie: They were so excited, and they had picked flowers. They were throwing them on us—it was so sweet.
Barbara: So, did anybody capture any photos of that—I hope?
Barbara: I’m just thinking, “Oh, I wish I could have seen that.” It just sounds delightful.
Dennis: Great video.
Katie: I know!
Barbara: Even just a few still photographs.
Katie: It was so dark, but it’s like seared in my memory forever!
Barbara: I’m sure it is; yes.
Dennis: So, back to my original question, at the beginning of the broadcast: “Katie Davis Majors, what’s the most courageous thing you’ve ever done in all your life?”
Katie: That is a hard question, but I think—I think the most courageous thing that I have ever done is to trust God when I can’t see what He’s doing. I don’t think that’s a courage that has come from me. I think that God, Himself, has allowed me the grace to continue to trust Him.
I think that that’s the most courageous thing that any of us can do—is to continue to put our hope and our trust in God, even when we don’t really feel like it. He has shown me that that hope does not disappoint me because, even when I don’t get what I want, I get more of Him—I get to know Him more / I get to know sides of Him that I wouldn’t have known if I hadn’t scooted up next to Him like that.
Bob: So, you’re saying, even if the olive tree is barren—
Bob: —and the leaves are withering—
—to say, “I’m still going to trust Him.” That’s where real courage comes from.
Katie: I think that that is real courage.
Dennis: As you were talking, I couldn’t help but think of this passage in Romans, Chapter 5.
Katie: I love this one.
Dennis: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces—
Dennis: —“hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.”
Dennis: God in you—changing you.
Dennis: Great answer to the question.
Bob: Well, and there is a lot of courage that shows up in the book that you’ve written called Daring to Hope. It’s a book that tells the story of how God has been with you in the midst of suffering / how you’ve seen His goodness in the brokenness of where you live and work.
I would encourage our listeners: Get a copy of Katie’s book, Daring to Hope. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call to order at 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.”
You know, one of the things that, Dennis, both you and I love to hear are stories of redemption—people whose lives were broken / headed in the wrong direction—they were in the ditch, as you like to say—and God intervenes and turns them in a new direction and points them in a new direction—turns their whole life around. Recently, we got a chance to meet with a number of listeners, who said FamilyLife Today was a part of their redemption story.
Some of the stories we heard were just remarkable.
I was sitting there, thinking, “I wish our Legacy Partners / I wish the folks who help support this ministry could be here with us, hearing these stories, because that’s what you’re giving to when you support the ministry of FamilyLife Today.” You’re helping us reach more people more regularly with practical biblical help and hope.
And here, as 2017 is drawing to a close, I know some of you are thinking about possible yearend donations to ministries like ours. There is a special opportunity for you to give over the next couple of weeks—it’s a matching-gift fund that’s been established for this ministry. Michelle Hill is here with details on how we’re doing with that matching-gift fund. Hi, Michelle!
Michelle: Hey Bob…well by now many folks have heard that the match fund has more than doubled (it’s now 4.3 million dollars) but the real important number is one, as in that one person listening right now and deciding to give…and maybe you’re that one?
I mean really Bob, the match isgoing to be met one gift at a time…and so far over five thousand people have made that decision. So, thanks to each one…like Don from Canton, Ohio? Today we’re at NINE HUNDRED SEVENTY ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS...which is great! BUT…if we’re going to take full advantage of the match, we’ll need a lot of other ones to pray and then give as God leads.
Bob: Well, and if you’d like to be a part of helping us take full advantage of the matching gift, you can make a donation today, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call to donate—1-800-358-6329 is the number—1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY”; or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO
Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223.
And if you haven’t sent us a Christmas card yet, send a Christmas card and just tuck something inside; okay?
And I hope you can join us back again tomorrow when we’re going to hear a conversation we had, not long ago, with our friends, Don and Sally Meredith. This is a remarkable couple who God used in a significant way to help birth the ministry of FamilyLife all the way back in 1976. I hope you can tune in and meet our friends, Don and Sally Meredith.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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