Why I’m Not Shy Anymore by Travis Sharpe

Believe it or not, I’m a pretty shy person. I have never been the life of the party or the loud and outspoken one.

When I was in school and they had dances, I was the goofy kid standing to the side watching everyone else have fun. The very thought of asking a girl to dance made my palms sweat.

Fast forward to 1999 when God called me into missions. I had to quit my full time job and begin raising support for our family. That just about killed me because it felt like I was asking for something for free.

I was super excited about our ministry but I always felt reserved and somewhat ashamed to ask for support. I had always worked at a regular job and now God was asking me to depend on the missionary support of churches. It was tough for a shy person.

We began our first homeless shelter in 2001 and along with everything else, I had to raise the money for it. It was a great cause (and still is) but I always felt intimidated and scared to ask for the much needed donations.

Fast forward to today

Today we have an international ministry. We are not only involved in homeless ministry here in the United States but we have now started our first official ministry in a foreign country, the Philippines.

I know have the responsibility of raising funds and operating a much larger scale ministry on several different fronts.

I’m not kidding when I say that almost every week I want to go somewhere and hide instead of facing the required duty of putting myself out there to ask for the support we so desperately need to plow ahead and help the people God has called us to.

It’s tempting to stand on the side lines (like at those dances) and just hope that things work out. The hard part for me is asking.

It has changed

Thankfully, my attitude about this has changed. I have come to realize several truths about our family, our ministry and God’s will that have helped me to put the shyness aside and plow ahead like I’m supposed to do.

Here are those truths in no particular order.

1. We are making a real difference

Looking back I can see that the ministry God has put us in has always made an impact in the lives of needy people. The problem is that sometimes you get blinded by your fears and you don’t notice it.

But from day one God has used our family and what we do to help people who others have given up on. I have even seen God, through our own ministry, change people that I myself had given up on.

Homeless men have received the Lord and been able to begin a brand new life with hope and purpose. Single mothers have been helped and orphaned children have been rescued from the streets (that happened just last week in our Philippines ministry, please pray for Joseph).

I have some good friends today who were homeless drug addicts when I first met them. Already this year we have given literal life-saving medical treatment to at least four children who had no other way of getting it.

The bottom line is that whether we are feeding starving children in Asia or leading a homeless man to the Lord under a bridge in Tennessee, the difference that is being made is real. People are being saved and lives are being put back together.

2. None of this was my idea

One of my biggest struggles when we first began was trying to figure out if God was calling me to do all of this or if it was just a crazy idea I had. I know that might sound totally weird but it was a question that haunted me for a couple of years.

I can remember exactly where I was kneeling in prayer the night that God cleared all of that up for me. I’ll spare you all the details but basically God had to put me in my place!

Who was I to think that I was such a good guy that I would want to help the homeless out of the goodness of my heart? God showed me that there wasn’t anything good in me, much less compassion and love for the homeless.

It was a liberating day for me when I finally realized that this was all God’s doing. The only reason I was involved was because he needed a human to carry it out. I’m still trying to figure out why he chose me to be that person.

If this was all some scheme that I dreamed up then I should be shy, or even ashamed. But the truth is that when God called me I really wanted to be anything but a missionary who would be responsible for raising funds for a ministry.

Since this is God’s idea and not mine, I shouldn’t be any more ashamed to ask for help from God’s people for God’s work than I am about the very fact that I am saved.

3. The children need a voice

We are now ministering to hundreds of children in Southeast Asia. Some of these children are orphans, others are runaways who live on the streets and some of them live in extremely poor squatter camps.

No matter there particular situation, they all have one thing in common, they are children who are in need.

They need food, they need shelter, they need medicine, they need love and attention, they need Jesus. They have dozens of legitimate needs. I know because I have spent a lot of time with them getting to know them and growing to love them.

But one thing they really need is a voice. They need someone who is not shy about sharing their plight. They need someone who will be honest and truthful with the public and help people to see the great problems that they have.

They need someone to care. Someone who will care enough to speak on their behalf.

How in the world could I be shy about asking someone who God has blessed for a donation when I know it’s going to benefit children who are too poor to even have food to eat every day?

To be shy about that doesn’t even make good sense. I know God wants me to be a voice for the voiceless.

4. Fundraising is equal

This may be the hardest pill for me to swallow, but I believe it’s true. Raising the money that’s needed to carry out out the ministry is just as important as carrying out the ministry.

Why? Because the funds are necessary to do the work. No, everything does not revolve around how much money we have or don’t have, and I’m going to do the best I can to fulfill my calling with an abundance or with a lack thereof. (I know that because for the first few years all I had was my own paycheck and it was quite conservative).

I would much rather be preaching all the time or serving meals to the children or doing a Bible study. I think of that as ministry, the real ministry. But, as the President of our ministry, if I don’t do my job spreading the word and raising the funds that we need, then I am simply not fulfilling my calling to the best of my abilities.

Measured side by side, nothing takes precidence over sharing the gospel and the other actual acts of ministry that we do. However, it’s awful hard to pay the light bill if you don’t go to work! As the leader a big part of my “going to work” is fundraising. I used to hate that fact. Now I embrace it.

I have learned that fundraising is not some dirty, underhanded thing we do where hopefully no one is offended by it. Fundraising is our opportunity to have God’s people partner with us to bring hope and help to those in need. Giving to a great ministry is an avenue for compassion and an outlet for good works. Supporting missionaries is one of the church’s primary ways of fulfilling the great comission.

I get many donations with little notes attached to them. I love to receive these personal notes because they always shed a little light on the heart of the giver. A recent note simply said “feed the children with this.” Another recent note said “my daughter collected this money because she heard there were homeless children who didn’t have their own bedroom to sleep in.”

That doesn’t sound like the work of a slimy salesman to me! As a matter of fact, I am grateful that God has allowed me to share the blessings and opportunities that are available to help those who are suffering so badly. I know that the effort I put into raising money to fund our ministry is vital and life changing.

5. People want to give

Because of my shyness and my fear, it took me a long time to realize this simple truth. There are plenty of people out there who want to give. They are just waiting on me to ask.

I’m not naive enough to think that everyone wants to give or that everyone likes what we do. But I know for a fact that God would not call me to this ministry without also calling people to hold up my hands and support it. Just as real as my calling is to go, God has called many to give.

God used one person to really teach me this lesson a few years ago. This elderly gentleman was a big supporter of our mission. When we needed a new roof for the mission building he gave a big chunk for it. He gave toward many of our needs throughout the years.

He always told me that I had to ask for what we needed. He really harped on that to me. I bet he told me that a dozen or more time over a span of five or six years. He would say “we can’t help you if we don’t know what you need.” Every time he told me that I felt super convicted because I knew he was right. I have thanked God many times for all those reminders.

To say that I am grateful for our supporters would be an understatement. God has placed people in our lives who are unselfish, compassionate and giving. I am continually impressed and amazed at how God’s people joyfully support the Lord’s work.

I have learned that there are many, many people who are willing to give if I will only ask and for those people I am indebted. They make my job much easier and they are saving lives with their generosity.

In conclusion

To be clear, I’m still a little shy when it comes to all this. Maybe I should change the title to something like “5 Reasons I’m not as shy as I used to be.” Anyhow, I’m just glad that God can take someone who is scared to death to do something and actually use him to do it.

That’s exactly how I feel.

Question: Do you have a fear that you are trying to overcome or are you shy about doing something that you know you need to do? I’d love to hear from you so leave a comment below or on Facebook.