Africa Part 2: when I saw miracles

Wednesday, July 18

Part 1

It was that summer, and I was that girl.

AKA: it was the summer after I graduated college and I, along with all my friends, had no idea what we wanted to do with our lives. So I did what all directionless college grads do…I decided to postpone the inevitable and work at a summer camp! 
 And for a good portion of the summer, I was the “craft lady”.

One week when I was pretty much over making hemp bracelets and decoupaging my 15th journal, the kids and I decided to start spray painting shirts. I felt a little edgy with a spray paint can (!) but after lots of trial and error, I ended up spray painting my love, Africa.

and a few kids asked me to make them the same exact shirt for them.

and a few more.

and soon half the kids at camp were running around with the African continent sprayed on them.

and a seed fell that summer.
a sprouted seed that said “why can’t a shirt change the world?”

So I prayed. And talked. And gathered. And researched.

And soon I started designing and selling t-shirts, and managing a website, and taking orders from all parts of the globe from people who wanted to see the world change with me.

Africa Hope Apparel.
for when they purchased a shirt, they picked an organization, and all the money from their shirt went to that organization.

And soon I couldn’t manage all the orders coming in. My sisters and mom and I would package the shirts and ship them out. I knew everyone that worked at that post office for I was that regular who touted a garbage bag full of awkwardly packaged t-shirts, a skinny brown-haired Santa Claus.

It was pretty ghetto, but I didn’t care.

Smile wide and eyes full I was washed in love by strangers I didn’t know, simply because they cared.

They cared. From far reaches of the world, people cared.
They wanted to consume wisely, so their fashion would impact lives.

And over a 4 year period, I was able to donate around $30,000 to the 5 different organizations that Africa Hope supported.
 Around the third year of selling shirts, I had just finished working for Invisible Children, and was living at home with my parents praying (with lots of tears) that a job would open up that would make my heart sing! I remember writing in my journal “Lord, my dream would be to work for a small non-profit that works in Africa that is centered around your love”.

And guess what?

Something did happen….

A few weeks later a girl from an organization called Empowering Lives International emailed me. She told me that she had met someone wearing an Africa Hope shirt, and was wondering if I might consider putting their organization up on the website.

One look at their website, and my heart beamed.

This. This was where I wanted to work. But, alas, they were not hiring!

So I put their organization up on my Africa Hope website, and then drove out to their office to meet the staff. I was in love. So I prayed that maybe, ohhhhhh, just maybe I could work for an organization like this!

And then, a month later, the CEO called me and let me know that a position had just opened, and that I was the first person they had thought of to fill it.

Speechless, I could NOT believe my ears. 
WHAT? It’s in the middle of a recession, freaking taco bell won’t even hire me, and now someone from my dream job is calling me up and asking me if I want to apply for this position?

So once upon a time I got this amazing job working for Empowering Lives International and after almost 4 years I’m still here, and we all lived happily ever after!

But really, it is the most incredible blessing working for an organization that does holistic development work in East Africa. ELI understands that poverty isn’t just about a lack of material possessions but also a lack of dignity, of people beginning to feel worthless and unvalued because they can't take care of their family. That is not the way God intended his people to live. That is why instead of just giving hand-outs, ELI’s heart and vision is to equip and train people to learn how to grow their own food or start their own business, so that they can begin to care for their own family and live with dignity.

We work in D.R. Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Sudan. We have training centers, schools, children’s homes, Anti-alcohol programs, and health clinics. Truly, just writing it out makes me so thankful that I am able to spend every day being a part of God’s transformation in this world. And as you can see from the pictures, i've also been able to visit the places were we work and see empowerment in action!
{two income generating projects we teach at our training centers...bread oven and vertical garden}

My story with Africa is seeing God work miracles.
Miracles enough to use me, a girl who knows nothing about business, to sell shirts around the world and raise money for great organizations.
Miracles to place me in the perfect job during an economic crisis in our nation.
Miracles to allow me to GO TO AFRICA for my job.

Our God, yes, HE is a miracle maker.

Now that this post has turned into such a novel, I think I’ll have to add a Part 3. But if the suspense is killing you (and I’m sure it is), in the meantime you can check out where I work at
And ps- thanks for hanging in here for the story! I know it was long….

AND…. I’m sure you realize what the give-a-way might be? Get excited...

Love Katie 
and ps- if you were really wondering, I didn't actually apply at Taco Bell but i'm sure you all can relate to the woes of start wondering if anyone will hire you, haha! But thankfully we serve a God who knows our desires and loves us deeply. 

Part 3


  1. Wow, your story is so inspirational. A blessing indeed. Glad that your dreams came true for you! I read part 2 before part 1, so about to go read that one :). Thanks for sharing!

  2. Oh gosh, Katie, you've done it again. So so good and such a powerful reminder of how He works! I love that you prayed specifically and trusted Him to provide and He far exceeded your expectations.

  3. What an awesome and inspiring story! To think what summer crafts will can lead a person too ;) Love getting to see all of God's fingerprints over your stories!

  4. Wow, what a God story! And it sounds like you have such a dream job!

  5. Kate you are amazing! I love your heart and your willingness to hear the call and go! Such an inspiration :) I'm excited to hear part 3!

    Ps. Are you still selling shirts?

  6. Katie - I'm blubbering. Despite the fact that I'm an emotional basket case lately, this post is beautiful and reflects the power and faithfulness of our God. Love.

    PS - How can I buy a shirt????

    love, denise

  7. First, you are a God send. truly. One of those people that just light up my life knowing that you even exist and that people get to be lived by and through you because of Him. I can't wait to meet you. And meet we will. I and Disneyland have a sort of magnet thing going on :) Love you, beautiful, friend.

    And to echo all the other comments, do you still sell shirts?

  8. What an amazing story! I love reading it :)

  9. LOVE this story! God is so faithful and I love how He so clearly made a way for you into this dream job! And what a neat idea for the shirt selling! I've never heard of anyone doing anything like that. Did you design the shirts yourself?

  10. Wow...I've never even heard of ELI, but it sounds like something right up my alley! I will absolutely check it out. What an amazing opportunity to work for such a wonderful organization. Lucky girl :)


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