Getting to Know: Sharay Thomas

June 13, 2023

Sharay Thomas is a woman on the move, and there’s no slowing her down.

Born in Columbus, Georgia, Sharay was raised in the west suburbs of Chicago. After graduating from Wheaton Warrenville South High School, she spent a few years working in a hospital before joining the United States Navy at the age of 23. After four years of active duty, she came home to Illinois and served for a year and a half in the Navy Reserves Great Lakes.

At that point, Sharay felt ready to set sail for a new adventure. “I wanted to find a purpose in life where I could serve God and love people as a career. I decided to pursue military chaplaincy,” she says. After conducting research on what the requirements were for that field, Sharay was on the move again.

She attended Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, IL, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in theology. Then, due to a unique partnership between Trinity and Northern Seminary, she immediately continued her education at Northern to pursue her Master of Divinity degree.

Sharay was thrilled to be attending Northern. “Northern has a rich history of producing impactful leaders,” she says. “I loved their core values of presenting sound doctrine, serving the community at large, and teaching discipleship through spiritual formation. Northern felt like a safe place to grow.”

And she quickly discovered just how wonderful the professors themselves are. “The instructors are top tier as well as kind and compassionate,” she says. “Every professor I have encountered embodies the material they teach, and they are very creative in the ways they teach it.”

Especially memorable for Sharay was a course she took in Christian Community Development under “Coach” Wayne Gordon. Of that, she says, “He taught with such passion and conviction. After taking that class, I was ready to change the world! Christian Community Development really impacted the way I see kingdom ambassadors and philanthropy in this world.”

For would-be world changers like Sharay, patience can be in short supply. But Coach Gordon offered some words of wisdom that stuck with her. She explains,

Listening to Coach, I now know that nothing is built overnight, including ourselves. He tells the story of how long it took to make an impact on the world around him [in the Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago], and all the resistance he felt along the way. I learned from him that whatever I want to create—whether it be a family, a business, or a ministry—it will not happen overnight. Patience is necessary when building something great.

As a newlywed, Sharay is finding plenty of opportunities to apply those lessons on patience and change. “I just got married to Allen last fall, and that’s a whole new world for me,” she shares. “I’m learning how to transition from being a single person in ministry to being married in ministry. It’s a beautiful journey.”

Not surprisingly, Sharay is “moving” yet again. Her love for health and fitness (she took up boxing in high school) has led her and Allen to start a meal prep business that will launch this year. Their goal is to create everyday meals that have lots of flavor but are still healthy. And given that Sharay and Allen are foodies who love to travel, it is unlikely that they will be lacking for meal ideas.

Looking ahead a few years, Sharay shares about starting a family but also beginning her career as a Naval chaplain officer. Additionally, she hopes to serve the world by offering fitness programs that encompass body, mind, and soul.

Whatever she does and wherever she goes, you can be certain that Sharay will be doing her part to change the world! But as she does, you can also be sure that she will always remember the life-changing lesson she learned from Coach Gordon: Patience is necessary when building something great.