New professor to lead missions center, Kenya Campus

PLAINVIEW – Wayland Baptist University has taken a huge step in developing a new initiative within its department of religion and philosophy, announcing the hiring of Dr. Richard Shaw as director of the Wayland Mission Center. 

The Wayland Mission Center is an initiative set into motion in response to students’ interest in mission work.

“We have had students indicate a large interest in missions,” said Dr. Paul Sadler, chairman of the Division of Religion and Philosophy. “We have wanted for some time to add a larger mission component to our curriculum. In adding Dr. Shaw to our faculty we have responded to the desires expressed by our students.”

Shaw will develop curriculum for the new center as well as serve as an assistant professor of religion and dean of Wayland’s Kenya campus. Shaw’s goal in developing the curriculum is to incorporate all disciplines of study into a mission emphasis.

“Religion and theology is very important. But in terms of business, in terms of fine arts, in terms of education, all of that informs mission in a very important way,” Shaw said.

Shaw said the desire is for the Wayland Mission Center to become not only a place of training and education for students, but also a center of missions for West Texas and the surrounding areas, including New Mexico, Oklahoma and Colorado.

“It goes back to the dream of becoming a world mission center,” Shaw said. “(A place) where churches and youth groups, student groups, lay people or whoever can have training and orientation whether it is for career missions or short-term missions.”

Shaw brings a wealth of experience to the field, having served as a missionary overseas for 12 years with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship in Albania, Macedonia and Kosovo. Shaw and his wife, Martha, served in 53 different areas of ministry including church planting, transformational development work, installing sewage systems, water purification, working with orphaned children, teaching and much more. Shaw also worked with the United Nations, serving as a human rights advocate and working with women, children, prostitutes and people with HIV and AIDS.

While Shaw said he has a passion for mission work, it was while working on his Ph.D. at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Ken., that he discovered a passion for teaching. After planting several churches in Albania and training their leaders to become true pastors and missionaries, Shaw knew that if he returned to that field, those leaders would expect him to resume control of the congregations.

“I was convicted that would be a mistake,” he said. “While I have been Albanianized in many ways, I will never be an Albanian. They are. They understand what it is to have been a Muslim and to have come to faith in Christ. They are truly better missionaries than I would ever be because they are indigenous people.”

As he completed work on his Ph.D. Shaw received word from a friend that Wayland was seeking to fill the position of mission director. A native of Santa Fe, N.M., he had no desire to move to the windy, dry West Texas area, but as time passed the opportunity began to appeal to him.

“I had quite a few options,” he said. “But the Lord kept drawing me back to Wayland and it was the only position that incorporated both missions and teaching. I realized, during the interview with (WBU Provost Dr. Bobby) Hall that this was the right place for us.”

Shaw and his family moved to Plainview in November where he began work on the curriculum. Shaw will officially start teaching classes in the spring semester and he has already planned his first overseas, on-site, study opportunity for students and others who are interested. Shaw will be leading a group of students to the Balkans in May where they will study, learn and work with Muslims in the mission field. Students will receive class credit for the trip. The trip is also open to people who aren’t looking for course credit, but want to be a part of the experience. Travel expenses cost approximately $2,200 per person. Anyone interested can contact the Department of Religion and Philosophy at 806-291-1160. In July, Shaw will lead a group of students on his first trip to Kenya.

Shaw and his wife have two children living at home -- Benjamin, 9, and Grace, who is 7 -- and two older children: Faith, a student at Asbury, and James, who just graduated from Baylor.