Daring to Hope (Part 1) - Katie Davis Majors

An uncommon adoption and uncommon faith.
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Leaning on Jesus
Guest:                        Katie Davis Majors
From the series:       Daring to Hope (Day 1 of 3)
Bob: In the midst of pain and suffering, even those with deep faith find themselves asking questions and wondering, “Why?” Here’s Katie Davis Majors.
Katie: We know we’re supposed to say: “God is in control. God’s plan is better,” but what about when we are not feeling that? What about when we are not seeing that? I think another thing God really showed me was that He hurts when I hurt. He desires to comfort me, because He understands my pain.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Monday, December 18th. Our host is Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine. We’ll hear from Katie Davis Majors today about how Jesus becomes real when we walk through the valley of the shadow. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. We’ve got a hero back in the studio with us today.
Dennis: We do. I don’t think we’ve ever had a guest introduced by their 14-year-old daughter, but that’s what we’re going to do here on the broadcast. I, first of all, want to welcome back Katie Davis Majors, married now for how many years?
Katie: Almost three!
Dennis: Almost three. You’ll hear more about that in a moment. 
My wife Barbara also joins us on the broadcast. Welcome back, Sweetheart.
Barbara: Thanks! It’s a delight to be here.
Dennis: Katie has written a book called Daring to Hope. Many of you probably heard about Katie, about a decade ago, when she wrote a New York Times best-seller, Kisses from Katie. It’s a story about her adopting a few Ugandan young ladies. One of those young ladies wrote the afterword for your book—I’m not going to read it all.
Katie: Okay.
Dennis: It’s really not fair that I don’t read it all! 
Her name is Joyce—she’s 14. Here’s what she said about her mom: 
Katie Majors is my mother. No mother is as brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous as my sweet, awesome mother!
Barbara: Sweet!
Dennis: You have really got her snowed; don’t you? [Laughter] That’s not what you say in your book—you talk about losing your temper and getting impatient; but somehow, she didn’t ever see any of those moments, I guess; huh?
Katie: She’s gracious! [Laughter]
Dennis: She concludes by saying this: 
I pray for my mom each day that God would continue to bless her life and use her to do incredible things. I love my mother because she brings glory to God, not only through her gifts, but also by calling out gifts and talents in others, including me. She speaks to us that we, too, can be used by God. 
He works through her to shine His light into the hearts of many. I admire my mother; and I pray that I, too, can live a life like hers, serving others first before myself. No matter what my mother goes through, she will tell you that it is okay; because God has always been with her. She teaches me that I can trust Him to be with me too.                                                      Joyce Liberty Majors, age 14
Bob: And a lot of listeners are going, “How do you get a 14-year-old to say things like that about their mother?” [Laughter]
Barbara: Exactly! [Laughter]
Katie: Yes; you’re going to make me cry at the beginning of this interview!
Dennis: Where did you find Joyce?
Katie: Joyce came to me when she was about five-and-a-half. She had lost both of her parents in the war in northern Uganda. She had been shuffled around since then in some pretty dangerous situations when she was brought to me. 
Dennis: She is one, now, of how many that you have become “Mom” to?
Katie: She’s one of 14 kids—13 through adoption and 1 that we just gave birth to about a year-and-a-half ago.
Dennis: And there’s a new dimension to your life that I hinted at earlier—the second love of your life—God being the first.
Katie: Yes; yes!
Dennis: Benji—tell us about Benji.
Katie: Benji! So Benji moved to Uganda about seven years ago. He was really—he had come on a short-term trip to volunteer at a special needs orphanage; but he was really burdened that there were a lot of ministries pouring into women, and a lot of ministries really helping out children, and not a lot of ministries pouring into men—discipling them and teaching them to be good fathers and good husbands. So, he came back, fulltime, just to disciple men and to encourage them in their roles as husband, father, [and] provider for the family. 
He has been doing that now for about seven years. 
We met when he first came to Uganda.
Dennis: Okay; I’m going to stop you there, because we’re going to tell more of this story on a later broadcast.
Katie: Okay; okay! [Laughter]
Dennis: Your book begins in your kitchen. 
Katie: Yes.
Dennis: It’s a place where relationships are made / miracles occur. I love it—you must have a little bit of a perfectionist in you—because you talk about mud, and red dirt, and footprints in the first couple of pages of your book that all 14 of these children that you’ve adopted have to track in there.
Katie: Oh, yes! [Laughter] I spend a lot of time in the kitchen, and the kitchen is not very clean a lot of the time. You know, it’s amazing how that can happen! It’s perfectly pristine before we go to bed; and then, six o’clock in the morning rolls around, and somehow it’s in disarray again.
Barbara: That sounds like most kitchens for most women! [Laughter] When I started reading that, I thought: “Oh! That sounds like my kitchen!” 
It was always sticky on the floor and crumbs everywhere. It’s just a part of having a family and having kids. Life does happen in the kitchen.
Katie: Yes!
Dennis: Your book, Daring to Hope—I told Bob, before you came into the studio—I said, “This is really a book that could be titled Reality Check; because the reality that you have faced in Uganda, over the last decade, has really grown you up in a lot of ways, spiritually.” Comment on that if you would.
Katie: Yes; it absolutely has. I mean, I think, in Uganda, suffering is so in your face; but really, that’s world-over; right? You can’t even turn on the news without seeing some terrible tragedy. I think anybody who can really, truly say that they believe in a good and loving Father has had to ask the question: “Okay; are You really good? And are You really loving? And if You really are good and loving, why is all of this going on around me?”
Daring to Hope, really, is kind of the chronicle of my journey through some of those questions. 
Dennis: Yes; and I would say: “If there’s a listener, right now, who’s going through a hard time—and you’re kind of confused—you’re maybe disappointed/discouraged—I think Daring to Hope would be a great book to pick up and read; because it’s going to pull you out of your valley and remind you of the truth about God. That’s really the message of Katie’s book. She just wants people to know the truth about God so, as they face their reality, they will be able to trust Him as well.
Bob: Yes.
Katie: Thank you. I really did write it to encourage people that, no matter what they’re going through—you know, it probably looks a lot different than what I was going through in Uganda—but in the midst of pain and hardship and trial, I knew Jesus in a way that I wouldn’t have known Him outside of those circumstances. I believe that’s His desire for all of us, no matter what our hardship is—
—just that we would know His comfort and we would know that we are so deeply loved.
Bob: The last time you were with us, you shared about how, as a teenager, God gave you a heart and a vision for Uganda. You went there at 19 to care for orphans; and you started caring for them, and you started bringing them home. You started adopting them. Before you were married, you were already a mother to—how many was it?
Katie: Thirteen.
Bob: Thirteen kids. So you haven’t adopted any new ones since marriage?
Katie: No; we had all 13 of our girls before we got married.
Bob: And have you thought about expanding since you’ve been married? You’ve obviously expanded, because you’ve got a new baby in the house. Have you thought about additional adoptions, or is 13 where it ends?
Katie: Well, I mean, I think we’re really open to however the Lord leads. If He would make a need very apparent, then we would definitely be open to it. I think we’ve seen more and more, over the years, the beauty of empowering local people to adopt. 
We’ve seen local people become more and more open to the idea of adopting. 
My 13 girls were all situations where—through our ministry, we sponsor children—we send them to school; we pay for some of their food; we do a discipleship program with them—all in the hopes of keeping them with their biological family, because most biological families really do want their kids. It’s just such a financial burden for them that they give them up.
Our ministry is really geared toward empowering the family to care for their own children. My 13 are all groups of siblings that were older and, for whatever reason, either didn’t have biological family they could be placed with or it wasn’t a safe situation for them. But in the last, probably, seven years, we’ve had several more instances where that has happened with children that we’re in relationship with through ministry— 
—maybe both of their parents have died or maybe they’re already staying with a grandparent and the grandparent has died. We’ve actually had a lot of Ugandan staff in our ministry say, “Oh, I could open my home to that child,”—especially because Amazima is covering the basics like medical care or schooling.
The Ugandan culture is beautifully hospitable and relational. We’ve just seen so much openness from our staff and other Ugandans, we’re in relationship with, to adopt. I think, for us, it’s really on our hearts that we would first—we would, first, always seek out biological family; but even beyond that, we would seek out if there were a Ugandan family in our community that would desire to adopt that child.
Dennis: You’ve been foster care parents—
Katie: Yes.
Dennis: —for a lot of kids.
Katie: Yes.
Dennis: One of the reasons why is the HIV/AIDS virus that has taken out so many people’s lives in Uganda.
Katie: Yes.
Dennis: I don’t think people in America realize what this disease is doing to the populations of many African countries. Tell about the little girl, by the name of Jane, who came to you because of that disease.
Katie: Jane is a child we fostered, but we fostered her long-term. We’ve had other short-term foster children, in and out of our home over the years, but we’ve always known that they were a short-term placement and that our goal was reunification with family. 
With Jane, we didn’t believe that that was our goal. Jane had been abandoned when she was about nine months old and brought to me when she was around one. We searched and we looked for her biological family. We sent out radio and newspaper advertisements; and we didn’t find any family that was willing to care for her. I began fostering her and began the process to make her adoption legal as well.
We had her for about three years when her biological mom came back in the country from Kenya.
She tracked us down and, really, just showed up and said that she desired to parent Jane. I mean, my heart was just torn in two; because my life’s ministry was about empowering the family and, at the same time, I felt like this was my daughter. I was the only mother she had ever known since I’d had her from the time she was a little baby. She was a sister to my daughters. This was really not something that we had expected or seen coming. 
That’s kind of one of the first stories in the book, where I begin kind of asking God, “Okay; when I’m praying and I’m praying—and I’m praying for something specific, such as Jane to come back and live with us—and that doesn’t happen, ‘Where are you then, God?’” or “If I think I know what’s best for me, for my family, [and[ for this child, who is now confused and traumatized—
—and I think I know what would be good for her—how do I trust that, “No, truly, God knows what’s best for each one of us involved’?”
Dennis: And Jane’s mom was not skilled, as a parent; and you could easily spot that. You knew that you were handing her back over to her biological mom to be raised in, certainly, a less-than-perfect situation.
Katie: Yes; it was very scary—her mom didn’t have a great track record. She went to live there for a little while, and then they actually ended up coming to stay with us for a while while her mom was between jobs. I feel like we were able to pour into both of them for a while, and then her mom got another job and was able to move out for a while. But since then—they lived near us for a long time—and since then, they have moved away; so we don’t even really have a ton of contact with them anymore.
Dennis: You know, that question that you found yourself wrestling with is a question that we all wrestle with in life.
Katie: Right.
Bob: I remember back when the shooting in Las Vegas happened in the United States. I wrote an article about: “How do we process this kind of disaster? How do we help our kids understand it?” I said, “You’ve got to remind yourself of what’s true—that God is in control / that He’s sovereign.” I kind of rehearsed what we all know is true.
Katie: Right.
Bob: And I remember somebody commenting at the bottom of the article with, “Yeah, yeah, yeah; blah, blah, blah,” and I get it.
Katie: Right.
Dennis: Sure.
Bob: I get that that is a less-than-satisfying answer in the midst of the pain, but I don’t know a better answer to that; do you?
Katie: I don’t. I know—you know, as I was writing this book, I didn’t want it to be a bunch of Christian platitudes; right?
Bob: Right; right.
Katie: We know we’re supposed to say: “God is in control. God’s plan is better,” but what about when we are not feeling that? What about when we are not seeing that? I think another thing God really showed me was that He hurts when I hurt. He desires to comfort me, because He understands my pain.
It’s the same, you know, for the shooting in Las Vegas—for people who’ve lost people—it’s not that God looks on and says, “Okay; okay,”—you know? God is devastated by that suffering. He is deeply grieved, and He hurts alongside of us. I think that gave me even more comfort than knowing that God was in control—
Bob: Yes.
Katie: —and knowing that God had a plan. I was comforted knowing that God saw my hurt. He experienced it with me, and He desired to love me in the midst of it.
Bob: In Romans, Chapter 8, where it talks about the reality of our adoption—
—that God has adopted us / that we are joint-heirs—it goes on to throw this curve ball in the middle of talking about all of this blessing. It says, “Here is what God has given to those He loves—we have His Spirit / we are joint-heirs if we suffer with Him.”
Katie: Yes; yes.
Bob: It’s kind of like: “Why did you have to throw that in there, God? Why couldn’t it just be, ‘Here’s what you get’?”
Dennis: Yes.
Bob: But there is a connection between glory and suffering—
Katie: Yes.
Bob: —that we’re adverse to, but that is a part of God’s plan for us.
Katie: I absolutely believe that. You know, Paul even says that “it has been granted unto me, not just to preach the gospel of Christ, but to suffer with Him.”
Bob: Yes.
Katie: I always read that and think: “Oh, God! Let that be my perspective on it—that it has been granted unto me—because, through suffering, I might know a part of God’s heart that I wouldn’t know otherwise.”
Dennis: I have a friend, who was in a tragic plane crash. While he was struggling for his life in the hospital, I performed the funeral for his five-year-old son. He made this statement that certainly anyone could make; but a person in his place, having lost a son—it just becomes really profound—he said, “Life wouldn’t be so difficult if we didn’t expect it to be so easy.”
And what your book does—is your book really forces us to realize that there are going to be prayers that appear to be unanswered.
Katie: Yes.
Dennis: There’s going to be brokenness that continues on—in our own lives and in the lives of those we love—but we have to trust the God Who is going to be near us. That’s really the message of your book—
—that, in the process of struggling over these prayers that appear to be unanswered or have an answer that’s a “No,”—you’ve gotten to know Jesus Christ in a way you couldn’t have known Him otherwise.
Katie: Yes! Absolutely! I think I’ve learned that God isn’t promising us a world without trouble, or without pain, or without heartache; but He’s promising us Himself; right? He calls Himself “Emmanuel” / “God with us.” He’s promising to be near to us, and that’s the greatest gift.
Barbara: Well, I couldn’t agree more; because I have learned over the decades of my life that the hard times are the times when I have gotten to know Christ more. He knows that about us. He knows that if life is easy—and it’s good and everything works out the way we want it to—we’re not going to need Him—we won’t depend on Him / we won’t be forced, on our face, to seek Him.
And so, as hard as the hard things are, they’re really good things—good that God intends to work in us. 
I was just talking to someone last weekend about this—we were both saying, “We wouldn’t wish what we’ve been through on anyone, but we wouldn’t trade it for anything because of what we know of Him now that we wouldn’t have known apart from that experience.”
That’s a part of what I love so much about your book—is that it speaks to that—that everyone experiences. God deals with us, as individuals. What He brings in your life is different than what He brings in my life; but it’s all for the purpose of knowing Him and knowing Him as He really is, not as we imagine Him to be. That’s such a good thing.
Dennis: I can’t imagine a 29-year-old writing this book. That’s what I told Bob when we came in the studio—I said: “It’s because of where Katie’s been/—
Barbara: Yes.
Katie: That’s right.
Dennis: —“it is what she’s seen—the number of people she’s prayed over for healing, for God to rescue them from HIV/AIDS, and God said, ‘No,’ and took them on to heaven.”
Katie: Yes.
Dennis: But you have a perspective that you’re passing on that I think, really—Bob, all of us today in America, where we live with so many comforts and we’re removed from the slums, where Katie has taught a Bible study. We’re removed from the graveside—we may go to a funeral or two a year—but Katie’s been to a bunch of them over the years, and that’s where perspective is. Ecclesiastes says, “It is better to go to the house of mourning than it is to go to the house of pleasure; because in the end, the living take it to heart.”
Bob: You know, this is a book that reminds us that most of the problems that we’re facing are what we call “first world problems.” That doesn’t mean they’re not real and challenging; it just means we have to keep life in perspective and know what really matters. 
Katie, you point us to that in your book, Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful. 
We’ve got copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. You can order it from us, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order. Again, the website is FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-358-6329—that’s 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then the word, “TODAY.” 
I have to tell you—we just recently had an opportunity to be in a number of cities with listeners to FamilyLife Today and had a chance to hear from many of you how God has used this ministry in your life in some significant ways—and how He is still at work, using the ministry of FamilyLife Today to help you grow in grace / to provide practical biblical help and hope to your marriage / your family. It’s always encouraging when we get an opportunity to be face to face with listeners. 
On behalf of the folks we had a chance to meet, I want to thank those of you who are Legacy Partners and those of you who support this ministry financially. You need to know that your investment in the lives of people all across the country and around the world is paying off. God is using FamilyLife Today powerfully in the lives of so many people. It was encouraging for us to see some of that first-hand. 
I know some of you are thinking about yearend giving—ministries or organizations where you might like to make a yearend financial contribution. We have a special opportunity for you, here, at FamilyLife to be invested in this ministry. There’s a matching-gift fund that’s been made available to us; and it means that your donation, here, at yearend will be doubled. Our friend, Michelle Hill, is here with an update on how things are going with the matching-gift fund. Hello, Michelle!
Michelle: Bob, I have some BIG news about the match fund!...and this is breaking for us, so I’m a little out on a limb here, but Jordan just told me the matching fund is going to double…as in over four million dollars!! (…and we don’t know exactly because this is happening almost as I speak) …but more than ever, we’ll need every listener to pray, seek God, and give as He directs. You know, four million dollars seems big to me…but Bob? I believe God’s generosity is at work here, so I’m asking everyone, please just prayerfully do whatever God calls you to do to, and you know what? While you’re at it, praise Him for His amazing generosity! right now we’re at seven hundred ninety one thousand dollars! 
Bob: And it is easy to make an online donation. You can do that at FamilyLifeToday.com, or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY. Or you can mail your donation to FamilyLife Today at PO Box 7111, Little Rock, AR; our zip code is 72223. 
We’ll look forward to your update again tomorrow, Michelle. 
And we hope you’ll be back with us again tomorrow when Katie Davis Majors will be here. We’re continuing to talk about her life in Africa and her life as a newly-married adoptive mother of 13 children and a bio mom of a baby boy. I hope you can tune in for that.
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’ll see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today
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