The newsletter of Bill and Sonia Shaw
currently serving the Lord in Lubumbashi, DR Congo
The Lubumbashi Bible school (IBTAD—l’Institut Biblique et Théologique des Assembleés de Dieu) celebrated its second graduation of 2022 (catching up from the years of Covid-19 lockdowns) on October 8th. A total of 54 students have graduated this year and are now in ministry in local churches. The new academic year began on the 10th with over 90 new students, so the school is thriving, and its reputation is growing. The WAAST extension is also wrapping up its second year with two dozen students studying for their B.Th. degrees. Testing for a third promotion will be held next week, and we are planning for the new class’s studies to begin in February.
Raphael, one of our second-year Bible school students, comes from the area near Lake Tanganyika, so his journey to school each term involves three days on motorcycle taxis plus another day by bus before he arrives on campus. On the first day of his trip in early October, his driver brushed up against a tree on a jungle path, severely injuring Raphael’s leg. The driver wanted to take him back to his village, but Raphael insisted on continuing the journey because he did not want miss any of his training. So the driver splinted the leg as well as he could, and they continued on to the next major town, where a doctor cleaned and stabilized the injured leg. He also wanted to send Raphael home, but again he insisted on continuing to Lubumbashi. By the time he arrived on campus, he could barely walk. When he checked into the dorm, he was reminded of a debt remaining from the first year’s classes, which caused him additional anxiety. Later that evening, someone from his home church messaged him that he’d heard of his injury and was sending money to pay for his hospital visit in Lubumbashi. Raphael decided to put his faith to the test. Instead of going to another doctor, he paid last year’s debt, as well as paying ahead for this year’s studies. God rewarded his faith by miraculously healing his injury! Raphael is just one example of many students whose future ministry will be positively affected by your partnership with us: looking for an increasingly redeemed Africa, one person at a time.
November began with the fifth anniversary celebration of la Parole Eternelle’s English/International congregation. Guest speakers this year were Gary and Janice Dickinson, our colleagues from Michigan, who work in the nation of Gabon. The theme of this year’s anniversary was, “Never Forsaken,” taken from Hebrews 13:5-6. Gary’s seminar messages were about Joseph, the prodigal son, the believer’s purpose in life, and the believer’s mission. The Friday evening service included a concert with Kenyan singer Mercy Masika, as well as our gospel choir, and Saturday was our annual Family Fun Day, which included games for all ages and a Congolese barbecue.
Construction continues on campus with the completion of the dormitory and the first phase of the chapel under way. The foundation and subfloor are in, and the walls are going up for the offices, prayer room, storage area, and bathrooms of the IBTAD chapel. La Parole Vivante (The Living Word), the name of the congregation meeting on the Bible school campus, held its first Sunday service on the morning of November 6th. Up until that date, they functioned as a cell group meeting in one of the classrooms twice weekly. Bill preached in their inaugural service, and at its conclusion he dedicated Pastor Jean and Deborah’s three children: one-year-old Jordie and twin babies Jeade and Joanne. These three babies are some of our adopted grandchildren in Congo, and it is a blessing to live near this precious family. Both Jean and Deborah are IBTAD graduates, and Jean is a current WAAST student.
A couple of weeks ago, little Jordie ran a slight fever for a day or two. Suddenly her temperature spiked, and she went into convulsions. She was rushed to the hospital, where she was diagnosed as having meningitis. After several days of IV antibiotics with little change in her condition, the situation was desperate. Convulsions were continuing, she cried constantly from the pain in her head, and she was at the point where she couldn’t even follow a light with her eyes. Brain damage was feared, but people all over the world were praying for Jordie. She woke up the sixth morning after her hospitalization laughing and happy, and her doctors say she has experienced a miracle. If you were on our prayer list, thank you for responding to this need and interceding for Jordie. Another brain scan was done today to check for epilepsy, and it came back negative. God is love, and He is good!
Both Bill and our colleague who is stationed in Kinshasa (Gloria Biffert from Wisconsin) have been teaching in the WAAST extension this fall. Bill taught the book of Acts in October, and Gloria just concluded two classes: Christian Education and Principles of Teaching. It was great to have another American on campus with whom we could celebrate Thanksgiving this year. We found a frozen turkey in the local supermarket and made several traditional dishes, including stuffing and pie.
On December 2nd Bill had surgery on his left shoulder in South Africa. He fell on it from a height of seven feet several months ago and damaged the rotator cuff. In addition to chipping the bone, the tendon was partially torn off. He has experienced very little pain since the operation but will be in a sling for at least six weeks and will have limited movement for several months. We are thankful for such good medical care only a couple of hours by plane from where we live.
We are preparing for our upcoming furlough and look forward to seeing many of you in the coming months. We plan to land in the USA on January 16th and to return to Congo about August 1st.
We wish all of you a blessed and happy Christmas and leave you with this thought from Scripture:
“For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
Bill & Sonia Shaw