Naked Missionary

BY LOIS SHAW, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Wait—really?

I’ve been looking at quite a few discussions of this “naked” everything: naked diplomat, naked newscaster, naked Coca-Cola, and I think basically it means to be honest and bare. I was listening to a BBC interview with a “naked diplomat” and I thought…well why not!

Who else but missionaries should be naked. 

So, I’m putting my naked toe into the water here and saying, “What should I be honest and totally bare about when it comes to missions?”

Here are a few thoughts:

1.  On the one hand, sometimes I don’t like poor people; they are just so needy!

But on the other hand, I love so many of my poor friends who are energetic entrepreneurs and I think with half a chance they would take Wall Street by storm. The women selling maize just outside the campus gate are such fun I have to stop the car and buy some almost every time I go by. They would make any HR manager delighted to have them on board. I don’t like poverty, but I do like hope.

2. On the one hand, I sometimes don’t feel like going to church on Sunday morning.

There is so much drama at church with power issues and personality conflicts and, well, nobody listens to my perfect solutions.

But on the other hand, for some inexplicable reason, Jesus decided to make the church his “organization of choice” for his ultimate global-redemptive strategy. I’m not sure I would have picked us.

And, some of my best friends and favorite people are at my church, so I must be there. 

3. On the one hand, the roads and traffic, corruption, lack of time-consciousness and lack of creation care drive me nuts here in Nairobi.

But on the other hand, it’s so exciting to be in a developing nation where the energy level is off the charts, and with a little creativity, you can actually be part of the solution. 

4. On the one hand, it’s ridiculously humbling and exhausting to have to raise your own financial support. That “hot-cheeked” feeling when someone says, “So your husband has his PhD and you have to raise funds?”

On the other hand, I have my dream job: I get to direct a small not-for-profit tourism company and show friends some of the wonders of the world, live on a university campus (university students are my favorite kind of people) and write, speak and live on the cutting edge of “world Christianity.” 

I also get to live with a man who thinks about things from a global perspective and is training some of Africa’s brightest young intellectuals.

AND, I’m so thankful for friends who dream with us and support us so we can live this crazy life. Living with gratitude is a healthy thing.

5. Finally, sometimes I find other missionaries so pedestrian and boring. I mean really, they are so “all about their own ministries!”

But on the other hand, I met some missionaries yesterday who are going to the coast of Kenya—yes THAT coast—to work with young people and scuba dive and snorkel and hang out and love kids of very different worldviews and beliefs, so that they can share the love of Jesus. And I thought—missionaries are some of the MOST interesting people I know!

Okay, that was me: naked missionary.

Thanks for praying for and loving us and our Africa Inland Mission colleagues all over East Africa. We are a motley crew, but not a boring one among us.

 

FOR THE LOVE OF AFRICA,

LOIS