The newsletter of Bill and Sonia Shaw, currently serving the Lord in Lubumbashi, DR Congo
While our supporters in the USA are enjoying pumpkin spice lattes and looking forward to Thanksgiving, our little Lubumbashi team is enjoying the early days of rainy season with its cooler temperatures. Just before the rains hit is the hottest and most humid time of the year here in our part of Africa, although Lubumbashi’s spring does not compare to the oppressive heat closer to the Sahara and the Kalahari deserts. We are thankful for the higher elevation that keeps our area temperate.
As we head into November, we are grateful for many blessings. Highest on the list this year is the safe arrival of two sweet baby girls, our granddaughter Jael and Sonia’s Congolese namesake, born to our administrative assistant and his wife, Jean and Deborah Lunumbiki. Little Jordie (aka Jordeth, Sonia’s maiden name) finally arrived on August 20th—to the great relief of everyone on campus—nearly a week after her mother was hospitalized. Our granddaughter’s birth was complicated by the fact that her mother (our daughter Bethany) had covid-19 during the last month of pregnancy. Because of a high risk of blood clots, labor was induced several days before her due date, and we were all thankful for the wisdom in making that decision. Both are healthy, thriving, and active little girls.
While we were in the USA in September for the birth of our granddaughter, Bill completed the last class for his Master of Arts in Ministry Leadership from Northwest University. We had the privilege of picking up his diploma and regalia from Registrar Sandy Hendrickson, who was in our youth group in Bremerton, WA, before we started our career as AGWM missionaries.
During our absence the first class of Lubumbashi’s WAAST/FATAD extension wrapped up their fourth B.Th. session with three weeks of Church History from Pentecost to the Reformation and into the 21st Century taught by Professor Willy Muyubwa of Lubumbashi. He’s an all-but-dissertation doctoral candidate, pursuing his advanced degree through the AG school in Malawi. Sonia is assisting him with editing his dissertation, since writing in English is a difficulty that francophone students currently must manage in order to complete their advanced degrees on the continent.
The Provincial Representative (District Superintendent) of Haut Katanga, where Lubumbashi is located has a vision to plant churches in areas where the church has not yet reached. In DR Congo one of the unreached people groups is the pygmies, located deep in the Congo Rain Forest. A team from his church has been making trips into that area for evangelism. They have planted several churches and are training pastors to lead them. To make these churches self-supporting, he has asked if we would be willing to help him purchase a large Husqvarna chainsaw to be used for logging. A locally purchased genuine saw (not a Chinese knock-off) costs $2,100. If any of you would be interested in helping these new congregations become self-sufficient, a donation towards this purchase would be most appreciated.
IBTAD (diploma level training) has been back in session since mid-October. We met with the students who will be graduating during this academic year and have decided to hold two ceremonies, the first on January 22nd and the second in August. This will give all those who missed a year due to covid-19 restrictions the time to make up courses they may have missed. After this current academic year, all graduations will occur in August before the students’ long vacation.
The English congregation at la Parole Eternelle just concluded its fourth anniversary celebration on Sunday November 7th. Our guest speaker was Josué Kukimunu, the pastor of a LaBorne (AG) church in Johannesburg. He preached a two-day seminar on Wednesday and Thursday evenings on the theme for the week, “Let Love Abound” (Philippians 1:9-11). Friday was the English gospel choir’s evening of worship, entitled, “Songs of Love and Life.” On Saturday, the family fun day was held on the IBTAD campus. There were a bouncy house, games, and face painting for the kids; table games for the adults; a DJ playing Christian music; lots of excellent Congolese food; and plenty of fellowship. Sunday evening’s celebration service included testimonies, special music, a presentation by several Super School students, and another message from our speaker. We are all exhausted this week, but it is a good kind of tired.
We want to again express thanks for your faithful support in prayer and finance over the years, especially since the pandemic began. Through the past month, we were extremely grateful for your prayers. There were two instances where we knew God’s hand of protection was over the people who live here on campus. During an overnight prayer retreat for the English congregation’s leadership, the 6 KVA generator we have been using caught fire. Bill went through an entire fire extinguisher on the sparking electrical components, but a diesel fuel fire had also begun when the tube from the fuel tank to the motor melted. Because there were thirty extra people on campus for the retreat, a bucket brigade was quickly formed to smother the flames by dumping sand and dirt on the generator. There were high flames and lots of smoke, but thankfully the fire was contained to the generator shed and did not spread into the neighboring house where our administrative assistant’s family slept.
The second instance took place on the last Thursday night of October when robbers broke into the administration building. They had the tools to remove a section of razor wire between our compound and an empty lot next door, to cut through the burglar bars on the library windows, and to pop open the doors into the offices. However, our MA Sara’s apartment is in the same building, and she raised the alarm. When the thieves heard her, they fled. The man who was going through Bill’s desk at the time got away with about $1400 from IBTAD and FATAD tuition payments and Bill’s watch, but they left two other pouches intact that contained our work funds, all of Bill’s credit cards, and foreign currency needed for travel in other African countries. We are thankful that their eyes were blinded to what they could have taken – computers and other valuable items – and that everyone came through the experience safely. A welder is now fabricating much stronger burglar bars for that building’s windows, as well as all the campus apartments.
We appreciate your continued prayers on our behalf! Throughout our 2019 furlough as well as during our month of vacation this year, we had in mind that this would be our last year on the continent. However, we stayed on to get the pastoral training programs on better footing, as well as to complete phase two of construction on the campus. This summer, the mission asked us to stay on again to build phase three of IBTAD Lubumbashi. AGWM raised funds at General Council for materials for this building project. It is still in the planning stages, but we hope to build a chapel – which will also serve as a local church – with extra classroom space for the school and rooms for boarding students. Many bricks have been fabricated on the property next door to the currently developed campus. Considering the date of our residence visa’s expiration, we hope to be able to stay until this project is completed without needing to take time out of our schedule for another furlough. However, we will need your help to make this work! If our supporters would all give the equivalent of one extra month’s pledge support over the next year, we can make this project happen without taking time off the field for another mini furlough to raise work support funds and hopefully without the need to go through the lengthy and expensive visa process again. We rarely ask for additional help from you faithful ones, but one month’s extra support would help us tremendously in completing this task.
We close this letter with lyrics from one of our Evening of Worship songs: “I’m counting my blessings. I just can’t keep it to myself. When I thought that He had done too much, Jesus did it again!”
Happy month of Thanksgiving and God’s richest blessings to all.
Bill and Sonia Shaw
Lubumbashi, DR Congo