It’s not what I always dreamed of or ever wanted to be, but like it or not, if you are white and live in our area of the world you automatically qualify as a celebrity. There are perks; passing through security lines without a second glance (although not the airport ones), people remember my name and the police consider me a good buddy.
However there are also a ton of drawbacks; I attract unwanted attention everywhere I go. Some vendors raise their prices when they see my glowing skin from afar. Children chant “kawadja, kawadja, kawadja” when they see me pass by. (Trust me, it’s not cute!) People think I’m rich and constantly ask for financial help.
At a pastor’s fellowship here in Malakal, I shared some thoughts on this as well as Scripture. Celebrity status reminds me and I reminded the pastors that many in our community look up to us whether we want them to or not. This is a great opportunity to share God’s love and model Godly living. But it is also scary knowing every action is watched. Both here and at home missionaries and church leaders are often put on pedestals. Yet as one of the Sudanese pastors shared, “No one is born a pastor, we are all born sinners and are saved by God’s grace”. God calls us to be leaders, not in our own strength but in His.
We definitely can’t change the whole world, but we can point people to our all-powerful God, who can. We are to live exemplary lives not only because others are watching, but also because this is what God desires from us. Paul’s challenge to Timothy is for all of us, “Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:12)