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Personal History

Biographical Sketch of Bill and Sonia Shaw,
Missionaries to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Central Africa

Bill:  Born March 21, 1955, in Fullerton, California.  Raised in Brea, CA.  Attended the United Methodist Church as a child but did not give his heart to the Lord until he began attending Whittier First Assembly of God (now called First Family Church) with a friend during his senior year in high school.  Was called to missions while attending First Family Church.  Graduated from Sonora High School in 1973.  A.A. from Fullerton College in 1975.  Transferred to Northwest College in preparation for future ministry.  Received B. A. in Religion and Philosophy in 1978 from Northwest College in Kirkland, WA.  MA degree candidate in Missional Leadership at Northwest University earned in 2021.

Sonia:  Born April 17, 1957, in Hoven, South Dakota.  Raised in Lebanon, SD, until the age of eleven.  Attended the Church of God (Cleveland, TN).  Family moved to Great Falls, Montana, and began attending the Assemblies of God while there.  Sonia dedicated her heart to the Lord and was called into the ministry at Glacier Bible Camp in Hungry Horse, MT.  Family moved to Mountlake Terrace, WA, when she was sixteen.  Graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School in 1975.  Received B.A. in English (minor in Christian Education) from Seattle Pacific University in 1979.  Sonia holds an MA degree in Missional Leadership from Northwest University.

During their first year of college in the Seattle area, Bill and Sonia met in the college Sunday school class at Shoreline Community Church.  They were married on August 19, 1977.

In April, 1978, Pastor Ray Jennings hired Bill and Sonia to work in youth ministry at Hillcrest Assembly in Bremerton, WA.  They were on staff there until the end of 1984.  While at Hillcrest they worked with young people from junior high through college age.  Their specialty was discipleship, accomplishing this through small groups and one on one contact with their students.  Sonia coached the church's Bible quiz team, and Bill was the district quiz coordinator.  Both counseled at Fort Flagler Youth Camps, and Bill served on the camp planning committee for several years.  Bill was also a police chaplain for the Bremerton Police Department.

After her graduation Sonia worked in Seattle as a secretary for a year and a half before committing most of her time to the youth ministry with Bill.  While living in Bremerton, two daughters were born to the Shaws - Gwendolyn and Bethany.

The Shaw's were approved to be missionaries to Ghana, West Africa, during the fall of 1984, and began full-time itineration in 1985.  They left for the field in May of 1987.  In Ghana, Bill and Sonia worked in the Volta Region, known for its voodoo and witchcraft practices.  During the two terms they spent in Ghana, the work in the Volta Region grew from five to nearly sixty churches.  At present there are over 300 Assemblies of God Churches in that area.

During the spring of 1994-95, Bill and the Central Africa Director made two exploratory trips to Chad and the Central African Republic, and a decision was made for the Shaws to pioneer the work for the A/G, USA, in Chad.  Following furlough, the family spent the year 1997 in Albertville, France, learning the French language.  They arrived in N'Djamena, Chad, on December 23, 1997.

During the time they were in language school, they learned that the few A/G churches in southwestern Chad (planted by French and Swedish missionaries who have since left the country), had divided along tribal lines.  Although the plan had been to begin their church planting ministry in the capital city, that goal had to be set aside in order to reconcile the existing churches and do additional pastoral training for the current pastors.  One church was planted in the neighborhood of Amtoukougne on the outskirts of N'Djamena during the Shaws' first term in Chad.

A mini-furlough of five months followed a four and one-half year term in 2001.  After settling Gwen in California with her grandmother in order to begin college, the rest of the family returned to Africa.

The biggest project of term four was the genesis of the first Christian radio station in the history of the nation of Chad.  The Voice of Hope FM 91 radio has been on the air since April, 2003.  It has an audience range of well over one million people in the area surrounding the capital city and in northern Chad.  This project was bathed in prayer for over two years prior to the passage of a law permitting faith-based programming, and the Holy Spirit is doing a miraculous work, above and beyond what was thought possible.  It is particularly amazing to see the response of the Muslim community.  Chad is more than sixty percent Muslim, some quite radical and strong in their faith, yet one hears of conversions from Islam to Christianity because of the radio station.  There was even a phone call from the imam of the largest mosque in the country encouraging us to continue our broadcasts because he and his students are finally understanding what the Bible teaches about Jesus Christ. A second radio station was also established in the city of Moundou, in southern Chad.

Due to medical and family needs, the Shaws returned to the states in 2003.  They began fundraising among their supporting churches during February, 2004.  Bill was invited to be the missionary in residence at Northwest College during the 2004-05 and 2005-2006 academic years.  Bill and Sonia returned to Chad in November 2006, while both daughters Gwen and Bethany remained in the USA.  

The last term in Chad saw the opening of the Bible school campus in Moundou, with thirteen students preparing for full-time ministry.  The first phase of construction was completed with a multipurpose building housing the chapel, classrooms, library and administrative space, two houses for the school teaching staff, and the first student dorm in addition to water and electrical infrastructure.  Sonia taught over 120 students English as a second language in Moundou.  Several of her students were Muslims.  This Biblel school graduated 89 new pastors since 2010, many of whom are planting new churches throughout the nation of Chad.

Their work in residence in Chad ended in 2010 but they remain involved there to support the efforts of the African missionaries who are now directing the Bible school. 

Since 2013 their current location for ministry in Africa is the Democratic Republic of Congo, headquarteering in the city of Lubumbashi.  Their ministry continues to be church planting, leadership training, and pastoring an English-language congregation.  One element they added was the encouragement and development of the next generation of missionaries for the 21st century through a program that gives a 50% tuition break for American students living on the field and continuing their studies by on-line courses. Two of our former students are now on the continent with plans to make a long-term commitment to working here.

Both daughters are married.  Gwen resides in Port Orchard, a city west of Seattle and teache 4th garde in the public school. Bethany graduated from Northwest University and with her husband Eric is currently teaching English as a second language in Ulaan Batar, Mongolia.

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