Alumna Interview with Karen Naylor (2002)
Karen Naylor earned the Bachelor of Religious Education in 2002, Mark earned the Master of Divinity in 2002. Karen and Mark have been married for 42 years and have one daughter, two sons and six grandchildren. They live in Victoria and are grateful to live close enough to the six young ones to invest in their lives.
What Did You Appreciate About Your Time at Northwest and How Did Your Time At Northwest Prepare You For Ministry?
I came to Northwest directly after High School in 1977, as did Mark. At that time, it was not uncommon for young people to take a year out to attend Bible School (where many of us met our spouses). Mark had signed up for a year and I had signed up for the 4-year program. We met during our first year and as our relationship grew, we recognized that God was directing us towards missions. Dr. Vern Middleton’s challenge – that few missionaries go to the Muslim world – was a challenge we took on. Mark returned to Northwest for his MDiv after earning a BSC at UBC, and then we left for ministry in Pakistan with Fellowship International. The deep Biblical and theological roots of Northwest and the commitment of the professors to God’s word and to their students gave us a solid foundation for life and ministry. The friends we made there are still part of our lives.
Describe Your Ministries Since Graduating from Northwest.
We lived in Pakistan from 1985 through 1999, where we raised our three children and learned (the hard way) about the grace of God, the needs of the Muslim world, the limitations of our efforts, the centrality of prayer, the wisdom of involving others in our ministry, the grace of God, the weaknesses of our strategies, the importance of learning how to get along with missionaries (a notoriously difficult group – since we’re on the field because we’re tough, motivated, and visionary), and (did I mention?) the grace of God... and then we left Pakistan to return to Canada.
While in Pakistan, Mark began Bible translation work in the Sindhi language. After we left, he earned a Doctor of Theology degree focusing on his translation and cross-cultural experience. He currently teaches cross-cultural workers how to survive and thrive in places with unfamiliar worldviews and different values. Translation milestones along the way we have celebrated include completion of the whole Bible for Sindhi Muslims and the New Testament for Sindhi Hindus. Currently the team has been working on a study of the New Testament and on making sure the completed Scriptures are printed and available.
Because “being sent in no way guarantees effectiveness,”(Richard Flemming), Fellowship International has commissioned Mark to offer ongoing training and exposure in best practices for missions in online cohorts. This includes partnership with Northwest’s competency-based programs as well as a series of modules on cultural sensitivity, contextualization, empowering others, and interpersonal relationships.
Good things are happening in Pakistan - evidence of God’s faithfulness and friendships that are being blessed that began during our time there. There is a growing understanding of what God’s plan for bringing in His Kingdom through discipling the nations looks like in Pakistan. Local colleagues are investing in the fruitful practices of making disciples who make disciples, multiplying efforts far beyond the ability of a single missionary or pastor. Mark spends hours every month coaching and mentoring workers on the ground who are applying disciple making principles and practices. Openness to the gospel and opportunities to make disciples have come about because of generous donations toward relief efforts after devastating floods in Sindhi in 2022. Disciple Making Movements are beginning in Pakistan.
What is a way you have seen God bring good news from a bad situation in your life?
For a western woman, living in the very limiting culture of a traditional Muslim country is hard. Really hard. Over the years I convinced myself that I was tough enough to handle the challenges - until I could no longer do it. During our last term I struggled through a crisis of faith, wondering why God had abandoned me in what I saw as a God-forsaken place. On the advice of the Fellowship International board, we returned to Canada until such time as I was ready to return. That time has not yet come. However, we see God is faithful and is doing far more than we could have asked or imagined among the Sindhi people we served with for 14 years.
What else have you been involved in over the years since graduation from Northwest?
We began involvement with and support of the ministry of Young Life (YL) when our kid were teenagers. Young Life reaches local youth, many with no Christian background, who are discipled and developed as leaders among their peers. We have used our home, our vehicle, and our time to support their disciple-making efforts. Mark also teaches courses to prepare Young Life Leaders to understand Biblical issues and cultural applications.