The Story of a Naked Christian
A naked Christian is a person who refuses to wear the clothes of personal achievements, failures, abilities or misabilities. He or she is not afraid of what people will think or say when they discover that their inadequacy, weaknesses, fears or inabilities. They have no fear of shame or guilt because Christ took it away on the Cross.
I am a Christian. A father, a husband, a brother and a son. I am an African. For some this is a badge of honor or dishonor, but to me it is a mark of who I am, what I am, and above all, why I am. To quote an African theologian:
In becoming Christian I discovered I was becoming African again. I was recovering my sense of the spirituality of life. I was recovering my sense of the nearness of the living God. I was recovering my African sense of the wholeness of life. I find in becoming Christian, I am being more African than I think I was. I am being more who I am. – Kwame Bediako
Like most Africans, my story is a narrative of death, poverty, hunger, disease, education and importantly, faith in God. I cannot run away from this story. It sought me, made me, but now redeemed in Christ. For what the Devil meant to mark my destruction, Christ crafted it into a mosaic illustrating the breadth of the Father’s love and the Holy Spirit’s wisdom.
This story gives me a unique perspective on Christian Living. It is how God shaped my voice. So, hear me speak as I desire only to utter words that are like oracles of God, and not make noise in this already riotous world. I went through hell, may be so that I encourage those who are suffering. The statement, God is in control is not an empty cliche to me, but a reality.
Hitting Rock Bottom
I was alone at my family home when Christ visited me. The house was empty and quiet, not because of serenity, but calamity. I lost my parents to diseases, cruel diseases.
Although I had five siblings, I was lonely. Poverty is cruel, very cruel. It destroys families and snatches away pockets of hope like a hungry bully at a school playground.
I was not interested with God stuff. I was not an atheist, but an angry kid in a small ghoulish town in the middle of nowhere. I had enough common sense to know there was God, but I hated him for murdering my parents and humiliating my family with poverty.
What kind of God robs a 16 year old kid of his parents? A foolish God, I strongly believed.
In my anger, Christ visited me. As I lay in pain caused by possibly PTSD, he touched me. No, I was not looking for salvation, but he was looking for me.
How could I search for someone who I thought wanted to ruin my life? God is all-powerful and all-knowing, yet He did not heal my parents from curable diseases or advice them to keep money in savings account. And I hated Him.
It seems God was watching me all along, even in my anger and resentment.
Anger led me to diseases, serious diseases. The kind that makes you think your pillow is actually your head. My stomach felt like I had been stubbed by an angry serial killer a thousand times with a blunt knife.
Finding a Ladder in the Pit
I was a mess. I walked around with a bag of antacids and painkillers like a confused physician. I escaped the trauma of my mom’s death and physical pain through reading.
I read novels like a lonely librarian. I read every published work of Jane Austen, from Pride and Prejudice to Lady Susan. Every day, I flipped through the imaginary world crafted by Joseph Conrad, Vladimir Nabokov, Dambudzo Marechera, Ngugi wa Thiong and even Lorenzo Carcaterra.
Fiction could not heal the deep wounds in my heart.
A few months before, my brother’s friend gave me a dictionary and an ugly Christian booklet. Like most sensible people, I judge a book by its cover. So, I read the dictionary and left the book on the shelf gathering dust like an abandoned grave.
Meeting the Rock at the Rock Bottom
On January 2nd 2002, I hit an all time low. No book in my library could provide the escape I needed, not even the dictionary. Hopeless, I picked up the Christian booklet.
Each page of the book was like a mirror to my hidden souI, revealing the ugly truth of my life. Despite the ugly wickedness, God blew a fresh wind from the nostrils of God wiping away all my sins. My anger vanished like morning mist.
God is good, even in face of suffering. Poverty, death and hunger can never limit his goodness. In my anger, he chose to love me and give me a gift of no condemnation.
I did not deserve to be a poor orphan, a mere statistic in the fancy UNICEF reports. But, I did not deserve to receive the life of Christ either. Grace happened to me and it can happen to anyone too.
I write because I love writing. I write poetry, personal prayers, lamentations and psalms, book reviews, memoirs and general articles on Christian living (1 Timothy 1:5-6).