An epiphany often happens with a simple, commonplace occurrence like picking up a magazine and seeing the cover of a horse nudging up to a young boy. This small act leads the reader to experience deep insight and meaning. For Katie Maddox, her “magazine moment” provided newfound clarity on how the body of Christ is to function as His hands and feet and the realization you are being called into the boy’s bigger story.
In June 2012, Fathers in the Field was the featured cover story of WORLD magazine. The photograph of the Field Buddy and his Mentor Father’s horse captured the native Georgian’s heart. Katie wrote a letter to the editor professing her love for Wyoming, horses and the Lord. In closing, she expressed her desire to be involved in the ministry’s mission of defending the cause of the fatherless.
Father in the Field’s Scott MacNaughton contacted Katie to take her up on her published “Here I am, send me” proclamation. Now, after a year and a half of sold-out commitment to the ministry and a couple of trips to Lander, WY to personally get to know the ministry and its leaders, “I’m having a lot fun,” said Katie, a self-professed cowgirl who loves her treks to the West. She is experiencing the joy that happens when God’s purpose and plans intersect with one’s passions.
Katie’s lifelong love of horses wasn’t compatible with her life and career until she got her first horse twenty years ago at the age of 42. Katie always wondered why God gave her such a love for horses when having one eluded her for so many years. Once she discovered Fathers in the Field, Katie realized that perhaps God made her that way so she could be a part of the answer in the lives of hurting boys.
“God used the horse on the cover of that magazine to draw me in,“ said Katie. “Learning to trust a horse and learning how to gain a horse’s trust reflected a big part of my personal journey with people. Trust is a huge issue in everybody’s life.”
The written words of a Field Buddy struck a chord with Katie. The boy didn’t understand there could be a father figure that he could trust or love because he’d never known anyone like that. Katie wants to help Fathers in the Field make the introductions.
Although she grew up in an intact family, the ripples of a volatile relationship with her father remain.
“The main thing I felt from my father was fear. At some level, I feel a kinship with the anger and abandonment issues the boys have from knowing they don’t have the father their hearts long for. They are a product of a broken world and their father’s broken promises.”
Katie sees the beauty of Fathers in the Field serving in the mission field “right under our noses.” In many church circles, the mission field is a foreign country you give money to. Fathers in the Field offers a chance for churches to get actively and intentionally involved in the lives of those in great need in their communities by matching a Mentor Father with a boy dealing with the consequences, hurt and pain of being abandoned.
“The mission field is all around us and includs the people who come into our circle of influence,” said Katie, who prescribes to the ‘bloom where you’re planted’ philosophy. “Although there’s an epidemic of fatherless boys in our country, the solution is a little like eating an elephant one bite at a time. I’m hoping to do my part one boy at a time.”
Drawn to the simplicity and structure of the ministry, Katie earnestly believes Fathers in the Field is a great opportunity for men in the church who are not serving to get involved.
One aspect of Fathers in the Field that cements Katie’s dedication is it’s soul-saving and life-saving at the same time.
“Prior to my involvement with the ministry, I knew the dissolution of the family was having vastly negative effects in terms of children not learning values such as respect for others and authority, a work ethic, and faith in God, but I was unaware of the extent the consequences of a festering anger wound has on abandoned boys in this country. That anger is destructive.”
“I’ll do whatever I can do to help advance this ministry,” added Katie, a retired anesthesiologist and longstanding member of First Presbyterian Church in her native Macon, GA.
Katie’s church is on the brink of broadening its local mission field to include fatherless boys by becoming a church partner. The church is the base from which she ministers and helps enlist other churches in middle Georgia. “I believe my role as a promoter, donor, recruiter, Church Champion, advocate, and prayer warrior for Fathers in the Field is something God has called me to do. Who knows what could happen in the next 20 to 30 years! I trust God will use these years in a meaningful way.”
Fathers in the Field helps give Godly men the tools to mentor abandoned boys in need of a father and a heavenly Father who will never leave or forsake them. “It’s an advantage being a woman because I can talk to other women about this being a good opportunity for their husbands and families and a way to strengthen their faith.”
Remarkably, Katie got to meet the precious little boy, Brayden, featured on the cover of WORLD magazine when she visited Lander, WY last summer. He is John Smithbaker’s Field Buddy, and yes, “it was love at first sight.”
Actually, it was love at second sight. God used the magazine cover photo of Brayden and John’s horse to align Katie’s heart with the heart of the Father’s great love for fatherless boys.
Thanks to Katie and all of you who, like her,say a resounding “Yes!” to God and offer your life, time and resources to serve fatherless boys. We need your continued support in the new year and especially your prayers as we seek to glorify God by loving the orphans and widows.
As we serve together to point fatherless boys to the Savior of the world, may the joy of the manger and the love and forgiveness of the cross resound in your hearts at Christmas and always. Thank you for your faithfulness and support of Fathers in the Field in 2013.
Merry Christmas! John Smithbaker and the Fathers in the Field team.