Katie Davis was just 18 years old when she made a decision that would change the path of her life forever.
The Tennessee-born teen was in her senior year of high school, the class president, and getting ready to be her high school’s homecoming queen when she shocked everyone around her with her plan.
It was 2008 and Katie drove a yellow convertible car with plans to go to nursing college, that was until she decided to take a trip to Uganda before returning to enroll in college.
When she returned from Uganda to her family in Brentwood, she told them she wouldn’t be going to college and had decided to return to Uganda to work as a missionary dedicated to providing education to the people.
With the promise that at some point she would get the nursing degree she had dreamed of, she returned to Uganda to start her missionary work.
She started teaching kindergarten at an orphanage but one night during a rainstorm, a mud house collapsed on three children whose parents had died of AIDS. While being treated at the hospital, one of the girls, 9-year-old Agnes, asked Katie if she could come live with her, and the 18-year-old accepted.
In just 18 months Katie had gone from 18-year-old homecoming queen to mother of 13 orphaned or abandoned girls aged 2 to 15. The youngest child had been given to Davis by an HIV-positive mother of 12.
“My first instinct is not, ‘oh, a baby — let me adopt it!’ Because I think, best-case scenario, they’re raised in Uganda by Ugandans. But knowing there is nowhere else for them to go, I don’t find myself capable of sending them away,” Katie explained.
Katie briefly returned to the U.S. to fulfill her promise to her parents and enrolled in nursing college, but she missed her girls too much and eventually dropped out and moved back to Uganda.
Katie wanted to adopt the girls but was told that under Uganda law adoption wouldn’t be considered until she was 25 years old.
Given how well she takes care of the girls she became the court-appointed caregiver of all the girls.
Her kids certainly feel like staying with Katie is in their best interests.
“I feel like she’s really my mother because she shows me love, and I feel like, yes, this is my mom,” one of the girls Prissy said.
Katie said when she started out her intention was to teach these girls the word of God, but had no idea how much love she would feel for them and the urge to become their mother.
“I think that’s definitely something that I was made for,” said Davis, when she was interviewed by NPR more than a decade ago.
“God just designed me that way because he already knew that this is what the plan was for my life — even though I didn’t,” added Katie, who is a devout Christian who idolizes Mother Theresa.
Since, Katie has set up Amazima Ministries International, which has helped set up two schools and other services such as medical and vocational outreach as well as sponsorship and scholarship programs aimed at helping Ugandan families to stay together.
Katie married Benji Davis in 2015 and they live in Uganda with their two biological sons and care for 13 Ugandan children. The pair met when Benji arrived in Uganda to serve as a missionary and even though they grew up not far from each other in Tennessee, they met for the first time in Uganda.
She has published two memoirs that became New York Times bestsellers Kisses from Katie: A Story of Relentless Love and Redemption and Daring to Hope: Finding God’s Goodness in the Broken and the Beautiful.
The mother of 17 declared that the people of Uganda have become like family to her, and whatever she is doing there, other people can replicate elsewhere. She said: “You don’t have to be in Uganda to be a missionary. You don’t have to adopt 13 children to be the hands and feet of Jesus.”
Katie’s story is incredible and thanks to her so many children have the stability and bright future that all children deserve. Please share.