The newsletter of Bill and Sonia Shaw,
currently serving the Lord in Lubumbashi, DR Congo
As those of you who live in the northern hemisphere roll into milder temperatures, accompanied by tulip fields and cherry blossoms, we who live south of the equator are experiencing the last downpours of rainy season, cooler temperatures, and harvest time. We welcome the end of muddy, potholed roads for the year and a chillier, drier climate for the next few months.
Once the rains stop completely, the season when adobe bricks are manufactured begins. During the next year we anticipate the construction of a regional office for the Assemblies of God leadership just inside the gate of the Bible school campus. The churches and pastors in our area are currently raising funds for this project. Furthermore, if our supporters continue to remain as faithful as you have thus far, despite the pandemic (THANK YOU SO VERY MUCH!!!), we will be able to begin construction of a chapel on the newly purchased property next-door to the campus in 2022. A small group of believers is already meeting in one of the Bible school classrooms and will become the church planting team for this neighborhood.
Brickmaking involves formation of the bricks in a mold using dampened soil from a termite mound, evenly drying the formed bricks in the sun, stacking them with openings for the insertion of locally made charcoal, covering the entire pile with mud, and lighting the charcoal. The fire will smolder for several days until it is completely consumed. After the fire is out and the kiln has cooled, the outer shell is broken off, and beautiful red bricks are revealed ready to use in construction.
DR Congo experienced a second confinement encompassing the first two months of 2021, as covid-19's second wave rolled over the country. This lockdown was not as severe as the first. Businesses and churches remained open, but the mask mandate was more strictly enforced. Schools were again closed. This meant that the first West Africa Advanced School of Theology session—postponed since March of last year—was again delayed from January to March. Three weeks of instruction by Drs. Marcel and Cécile Bomboko have concluded with fifteen students in attendance. The first two classes taught were Research Methods and Christology. There is already great interest shown for next year, when the second class of B.Th. students will begin instruction. This cohort will study together for the next three years. While classes are in session, they will eat two meals together each day, getting to know each other's joys and concerns, and effectively upholding each other in prayer.
Dr. Marcel Bomboko teaching Christology. Serving and enjoying the agape meal on the last day of class.
Class photo with Drs. Cécile and Marcel Bomboko center front.
Because of months of school closures over the past year, the morning students from the Lubumbashi campus of l'Institut Biblique et Théologique des Assemblées de Dieu (IBTAD), who began their three-year program of pastoral studies in October of 2017, are in their very last week of classes! A few students need to make up some missed courses during the evening sessions, but they are looking forward to graduating together with the evening students, who began classes at the same time, in early October. Since the evening class sessions are shorter (2 ½ hours as opposed to four hours for the morning classes), the evening students still have several more months of study to complete their program. We anticipate the graduation of 60 church workers before the next academic year begins.
The English congregation of la Parole Eternelle is growing in the Lord, as well as numerically. Several families have begun to attend regularly since the addition of children's church during the second hour of our evening services. Their motto is "Super School is super cool!" Several volunteer teachers rotate their duties each week, and the program has already grown large enough to divide it into two groups—elementary students and tweens. The only obstacle hindering the congregation's growth at this time is the 9 PM curfew, put into place due to rebel militia activity over the past several months. Since most of the congregation relies on public transportation, many residents fear not finding a vehicle headed in their direction and being caught outside after hours.
Home cells continue to grow and divide. The congregation now has groups meeting on Mondays and Wednesdays, as well as several on Friday evenings. Bill is currently training additional leaders to expand this valuable program. Bill's Tuesday evening radio/TV broadcast is also gaining attention.
The congregation is looking forward to Easter Sunday, when the evening will be blessed with a baptismal service, communion, the welcoming of new church members, and the message of Christ's resurrection. The celebration will certainly be as inspiring as the Sunday we were finally able to meet together again after the covid-19 confinement! (Short video of lively Congolese celebration: https://fb.watch/4xtdI0O46b/ )
Both good and bad have come to each of us during this pandemic. In our immediate family, our younger daughter is expecting our third grandchild in early September. All of us are thrilled about this blessing and are looking forward to meeting the new baby.
Covid-19 has struck many of our missionary colleagues, both in Africa and while on home assignment (furlough) in the USA, as well as touching several family members. We grieve the profound loss of Sonia's oldest brother, Gene Jordeth, who died of complications of the virus in late December. He and Carolyn, his wife of 58 years, had retired to Arizona in recent years, but many of our supporters know Gene's family from their years at Shoreline Community Church and Anacortes First Assembly in western Washington.
We pray that your Easter is filled with the hope Christ's resurrection gives.
Blessings, Bill and Sonia Shaw, Lubumbashi, DR Congo