We were called to establish a new church, not by design, nor by desire, but by the will of God. Its birth took place in the month of August 1974, and it became an organisation and a living organism seven years later in September 1981. It became such because the Methodist Church, out of which Rev Shaw came and which he loved, had become embroiled in political theology and liberation theology in particular. It was governed by the Black Ministers Convention in Bloemfontein. The decisions of the Church’s formal structures, such as the Conference, the Synods and the Circuits, were overridden by the unconstitutional body of the ANC.
Rev Shaw asked a Synod of the Methodist Church to pull out of the World Council of Churches (WCC) because they contradicted the Methodist Church’s stated doctrine and belief on five important points. Later, he pleaded with the Methodist Church as a whole to instruct or inform him personally by letter to confirm that they believed these basic tenets of the faith; that is that the Methodist Church still believed in:
1. The doctrine of God as transcendent and wholly other than His creation;
2. The uniqueness of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Son of God and Saviour of the world;
3. The Scriptures as the inviolate authority of God in all matters of faith and conduct;
4. The concept of ‘mission’ meaning to rescue sinners from the oppression of sin (and not a programme for political liberation);
5. The incompatibility of Communism and Islam, according to its own mission statement, with the Christian faith.
He also stated that, as much as he loved the church and it was precious to him, he would otherwise not be able to continue to be a minister in that church. He begged them to inform him that they still believed the points outlined. They did not answer and several months later, at a Synod, Rev Peter Storey announced that Rev Shaw had resigned from the Methodist Church, which was not true. They could not admit that they no longer believed what their fathers and founders believed. Sadly, that was the end of his association with the Methodist Church of South Africa. Today, he thanks God for that, because of the spiritual growth, blessings and nearness to God that he experienced from that day on. For this reason and for many others, the Reformed Wesleyan Methodist Church will never associate itself with the South African or World Council of Churches (SACC or WCC) in anyway whatsoever. In that decision, our church virtually stands on its own today. There are a few other churches that renounce these bodies, and may God also bless them. But we do not have any kind of unified umbrella. We all know that we are one in Christ and by His grace we will be faithful to His Word to the end.
We are a body that is not at all connected with the Charismatic movement, or Charismatic churches, or the kind of entertainment they offer. In Vancouver in 1980, the WCC invited many from the Charismatic movement to partake. They called them in to give the WCC some kind of spirituality which they were lacking. And so the Charismatic movement was brought into a forum with the WCC, and both of them now have the same destiny.
In two other matters, we are quite at odds with some Calvinists. We reject the idea of once saved, always saved. We believe that this is contrary to the Scriptures (Hebrews 6:4-6 and Hebrews 10: 6-7). The other aspect is essential to salvation and is therefore given to man as part of the gift of grace. Up to that point, it is true that man in his total depravity and rebellion against God is incapable of seeking or working for, or earning his salvation – not even to the point of deciding for himself to surrender to Christ. However, we believe that at the point where God meets man, He does not only give him the grace by which he can become a child of God, but also the free will that alone can make that choice real and meaningful, fulfilling all the demands of what God really wants of us. This also answers many of the otherwise clumsy interpretations of the Scripture. It just plainly means that at the point where God meets us by His tremendous saving grace, He also includes in that act the total freedom of man to decide whether he is receiving Christ or rejecting Christ, and all not of works, but by the grace of Almighty God.
We stand firm in the belief that God is not a means but the very end, nothing else can ever be the goal of the Christian church and Christian faith than being with God Himself – where He says ‘I am your God and you are my people’. That is the covenant made with Israel, and that is the covenant we have with the Almighty God now. God made it very possible for us to have a means which shall never become an end, as long as we recognise clearly that this is the goal: God, and that God Himself becomes the means to Himself, so that we may constantly love and worship and be in fellowship with Him who is Lord of Lords and King of Kings.
During the formative years of the Reformed Wesleyan Methodist Church, Rev Shaw lived in Pretoria and drove through to Middelburg to take services and Bible studies. So as not to be a financial burden on the congregation, he developed a manufacturing and servicing business in the swimming pool industry. In 1990, he had the opportunity to make a tremendous amount of money in conjunction with the Industrial Development Corporation. With bright prospects and plan of expanding the Church with millions that would come from his invention which God had given him, the Lord challenged him as he did with His disciple Peter: Do you love me more than this? The idea of making large sums of money and rapidly expanding the work seemed attractive, logical and a blessing, but God did not approve and reminded him of 2 Timothy 2:4 “No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier”. Within three days, he got rid of everything and moved to Middelburg. No one but the Lord knew that he was totally dependent on Him: no appeals, no hints, no knowledge of his own or the church’s finances were ever discussed with any single person. If indeed the Lord had called him and sent him for the founding of this Church, He would provide. For twenty-five years not once was any appeal made for funds and never was it necessary to do so. This in itself bears testimony to a living God and the absolute truth and consistency of the Old and New Testaments of the Holy Scriptures that witness to the reality of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the living God.
Earlier, in 1987, when he was still not involved full time, Rev Shaw visited one of his congregants, Mr Sydney Raubenheimer, in HF Verwoerd hospital in Pretoria. Mr Raubenheimer was seriously ill and recovering from an amputation. Despite his frailty, he urged Rev Shaw to stay behind as he wanted to talk seriously to him. He then told him that the Lord Jesus had stood by his bed the previous night and had impressed upon him that the ministry of this church was of tremendous importance. He also told him that he had therefore decided to leave whatever money he had to the church. Not long after, Mr Raubenheimer was taken to be with his Father in Heaven. The Church was built largely as a result of the money that was left to it by Mr Raubenheimer.
Towards the end of 1993 when the Nationalist Party was wanting to hold the referendum to vote in the ANC, Rev Shaw put out a pamphlet that said those who voted ‘Y es’ voted against Christ and those who voted ‘No’ voted for Christ. Although the issue was hazy in many people’s minds, Rev Shaw showed that voting ‘Yes’ would put the ANC, a communist body, into power and remove God from our constitution. His pamphlet made the front page of the Middelburg Observer and caused so much controversy that he felt uncertain as to the wisdom of having written it in the first place. He sought reassurance from the Lord pleading with Him to show that he was in line with His will. The Lord made it clear that he was in His will, and that the sign would be that André Bird would attend the Church service. Rev Shaw knew this was not possible – he did not even know whether André Bird was still alive. He was in an advanced state of cancer and the last time Rev Shaw had seen him, he was in ICU in Johannesburg Hospital. That night Rev Shaw took the evening service and during the service, he noticed a strange-looking thing at the back of the church – a stand with bottles – it was a drip stand attached to a very sick man, none other than André Bird. His family confirmed that nothing could keep him away from the church that night – he had to get there. Although he died not long after, Rev Shaw knew that he was in the will of the living and almighty God. This was the first cleansing of the church with many leaving. But others, like Lorna, were brought into the church as a result of it.
The resistance and upheaval continued, and Rev Shaw felt it very personally. He desperately needed God to confirm that He was with him. Owen Nelson, one of the members of the Church, was a farmer. He asked Rev Shaw to pray for rain as there was quite a heavy drought. That Tuesday, the Nelsons, together with their workers, gathered at the church to pray for rain. While praying, the Lord directed Rev Shaw to read about Elijah praying against the Baal worshippers and then praying for rain. Later on in the day, the Lord reminded him that Elijah had prayed seven times and that he must continue to pray. He revealed to him that this would be a sign that he was in God’s will – he must command the clouds to rain and it would rain only on the Nelsons’ farm. Rev Shaw felt very silly commanding the clouds and first checked to make sure no one was looking! The problem was compounded by the fact that there were no clouds. He obeyed nonetheless. He kept looking towards the sky especially in the direction of the Nelson’s farm, but he could not see any clouds over their farm on Tuesday, but he did see clouds on the Wednesday. He felt that he must have misunderstood the Lord, but during his prayer time on the Thursday, he was prompted to phone Owen Nelson. Owen knew nothing of what the Lord had told Rev Shaw. Yes, it had rained the day before, was his response, but nothing like on the Tuesday when it rained 22mm. He was ploughing in moist earth on his farm, and when he looked over to his neighbours – they were ploughing in dust! What a mighty living God we serve!
Although the plans for the hall had been approved 5 years prior, no building had taken place mainly due to lack of funds and dilly-dallying. Rev Shaw was staying in Voortrekker Street at that time and was on his way to buy a newspaper, when he clearly felt the Lord telling him to start building the hall right away. The next day, on Sunday, he announced to the congregation that they were going to start building the hall. On the Monday, Don Kukard and Vic Gerhardt set out the plans, and at the Tuesday prayer meeting, those present borrowed a spade from the Brand-Mullers next door, and began to dig in the spot where the foundation stone is now. Through much generosity in contributions of labour, concrete and other materials, the hall was built with not a cent. Like Mother Theresa said, ‘one shilling and Mother Theresa can do nothing, but one shilling, Mother Theresa and God can do anything!’
May all who belong to this church or come under its influence, remember one thing: this church is founded on the assurance and Word of God and we worship God alone; and this is not entertainment, this is our bounden duty. Here we seek no satisfaction for the flesh, no entertainment, nothing for ourselves. May God save us from that. We seek only one thing and that is to be totally the Lord’s, and indeed to be prepared for eternity for we have no other business. Our business is to be prepared ourselves and to seek everyone out there in the lost world to also come and be prepared for eternity./p>