The newsletter of Bill and Sonia Shaw
currently serving the Lord in Lubumbashi, DR Congo
Purchasing quality French language books for a theological library is surprisingly challenging. During our last furlough, we drove all the way to Montréal, Québec, to pick up several boxes of library books. During the month of April, we spent a week in Paris and returned to Lubumbashi with five suitcases filled with research books for our students. Of course, we also took advantage of the setting to soak up some culture and get some much-needed rest. It is great to see the students taking advantage of the library’s improved inventory.
Progress continues on the AG’s provincial office building, and the two-room dormitory is complete except for a few finishing details. Students should be able to move into their new dorm rooms next week.
The last week of May, Bill traveled to Lomé, Togo, where the main campus of West Africa Advanced School of Theology is located, for a meeting of all WAAST extension site directors. There was much important information given at the conference, which will lead to improvements at each campus, including the one here in Lubumbashi. Bill will travel again this week to Kinshasa for a similar meeting for all the site directors for l’Institut Biblique et Théologique des Assemblées de Dieu (IBTAD). This is the diploma-level pastoral training program used in multiple locations scattered across DRC, including here in Lubumbashi. All the site directors and many of the professors will be in attendance.
Ever since our earliest days in Africa, we have made time and stressed the importance of training new global workers and mentoring university students who have expressed interest in working abroad. Our first group of summer interns arrived in 1989 in Santrokofi Benua, the Ghanaian village which we called “home” during our first term of service. Among them was a Northwest University student named Phil Malcolm. He, his wife Robin, and their two children later served in Côte d’Ivoire and Togo, West Africa, as well as on the AGWM Africa’s Children team. Phil and Robin wrote a book on Children’s ministries, which is widely used across the continent and around the world (Children’s Ministry: Strategies for Making Young Disciples). About a year and a half ago, Phil was diagnosed with cancer, and—as Robin wrote on April 5th—he “won his battle . . . and stepped into heaven.” Robin, credentialed with the Oregon Ministry Network, is continuing to work with AGWM as a children’s ministries specialist. She is currently promoting kits to build Sunday school shelters for children, who often meet under a shade tree or in another uncomfortable location. They have already been dubbed “Malcolm Kits” in Phil’s honor. If this is something you would like to contribute to, we would be privileged to connect you with Robin Malcolm.
On June 2nd, Sonia experienced the loss of her Facebook account, which was taken over by a hacker and later disabled for “not following community standards.” This is a huge loss after using the tool in networking for over fourteen years. If you have been wondering why our ministry updates suddenly stopped appearing, that is what happened. She is still attempting to open a new account, but it will probably mean changing phone numbers and altering her name to do so. Facebook will not allow her to start a new account with her current information. When she succeeds, she will do her best to reestablish contact with her previous followers and begin making new ministry posts on Facebook. In the meantime, you may be able to follow her on Instagram @mamansoniashaw.
New email addresses: The reason why the hacker was able to take over her account was because our email addresses changed in February, and that was one account she forgot to update. Our mission had to change servers at the beginning of this year, so everyone opened new ministry addresses. If you do not already have our new email addresses, here they are: firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com. Please update your contact details for us.
The English/international congregation at la Parole Eternelle continues to grow and mature. Sunday evening services are currently encouraging over 150 believers. More importantly, three congregational leaders are pursuing pastoral training through the Bible institute and FATAD ministry, and each week we see young people step into opportunities for service. Last week Bill baptized four new members at the Eau Vive (Living Water) ministry complex. Since it is “winter” in the southern hemisphere, it was a VERY chilly event. One of our ministry leaders works in the mining industry, and accepted a new job posting in Madagascar. As he left our fellowship he shared his vision to begin a home cell that would develop into a local church. Multiplication! Early on in its development we realized this English congregation had a real “sending capacity.” We have former members now living in five different countries. Sad is the day when one of our own leaves, but “those who sow with tears, will reap with songs of joy” (Psalm 126).
Last Thursday June 30th was Independence Day here in DR Congo. The Super School teachers from the English congregation spent their holiday hosting a Fun Day for fifty children, ranging in age from preschool through the teens. We attended for part of the day, helped set up the teams, enjoyed the food, and cheered on the competition. The big kids paired up with younger ones when necessary, and everyone had a great time. Did you know demographers estimate by the year 2050 African believers will be the majority of Christians in the world? Your partnership with us lays a foundation for Kingdom expansion to the end of the 21st century, and beyond!
ATTENTION! Upcoming itineration: Plans are coming together for next year, and we plan to spend two months of fundraising during February and March of 2023. If you have openings for a strategic partner speaker or just want to get together one-on-one or in a small group setting, please let us know as soon as possible. Those dates are certain to fill up fast! You can contact us at the above email addresses or on WhatsApp. Bill’s WhatsApp number is +1 360 519 9154 and Sonia’s is +243 85 492 3117. We look forward to hearing from you and seeing many of you in person.
In studying 1 Thessalonians this week, Sonia realized that the apostle Paul spoke in the same way we would like to express our love to the people with whom we work. “For what is our hope, or joy, or the crown in which we will glory in the presence of our Lord Jesus when he comes? Is it not you? Indeed, you are our glory and joy” (2:19-20, NIV). In the following chapter, he blessed the Thessalonian church in the same way we would like you—our faithful supporters—to be blessed: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones” (3:12-13, NIV). Thank you once again for your faithful prayer and financial support as we work together to build God’s kingdom here on the African continent.
Bill and Sonia Shaw, Lubumbashi, DR Congo