By: Haley Cox/Editor
Dr. Richard Shaw knows what it takes to be a missionary in a war-torn country.
As Wayland’s new Missions Center and Kenya Program director, he recently returned from a month-long trip to the Wayland campus in Kenya. He encountered some inspiring people and also some tough situations.
“It was not easy,” Shaw said. “It was difficult in many ways and wonderful in many ways.”
Some of his work at Wayland involved counseling students who had lost family members in the ethnic violence. He also helped students seek assistance in rebuilding lost homes or businesses. During those tense three weeks, the campus also had to find extra security to ease the fears of their students, especially the women students, according to Shaw.
Dr. Shaw and the Wayland students also participated in mission work at the Red Cross refugee camp located close to the campus. The students were prepared to provide for 650 displaced people. When they arrived at the camp there were more than 4,000 people in need.
However, the money raised during the Wayland Chapel service two weeks ago helped buy food and supplies for the refugee camp.
“We bought flour, sugar, beans and corn, which are staples of their diet,” Shaw said.
The group also purchased foam mattresses, blankets, pain medications, such as Tylenol, and candy for the children. The children were eager for a treat.
“It was a mob,” Shaw said about handing out the candy.
He may return to Kenya in May with the SACS accreditation committee, but he doubts they will go because of the danger. However, Wayland’s Kenya campus will not shut down, even if it has to delay some courses. If American teachers prefer not to go, he will find qualified teachers there in Kenya.
“We’ve made a promise to provide education,” Shaw said.
He will definitely return to the campus in July, where he will teach the grad seminar to Wayland’s first class graduating with a bachelor’s degree. The graduating class includes two women and six men.
As a former missionary in Macedonia, Albania and Kosovo, Dr. Shaw often had to deal with war and violence. The nation of Kenya, however, boasts a high percentage of Christianity. Many have wondered why this “Christian” country is so torn by violence.
“At times our allegiance to the Gospel is overridden by our national identity,” Shaw said in an interview prior to his trip to Kenya.
With two men of different tribes vying for national power and willing to do anything to get it, including destruction and killing, Kenya’s situation may take external intervention. Yet Shaw doubts the U.N. will take any action.
“Things have to hit bottom before they get better,” Shaw said.
Kenya’s people will also have to learn to look past tribal identity.
“I’m a man of peace and I love everybody,” Shaw said. “Some people are harder to love, but you learn to love everybody regardless of ethnicity.”
To see more photos and blogs by Dr. Rick Shaw, go to http://richardandmarthashaw.blogspot.com.