Shepherd celebrates 30 years

A single, beautifully-carved shepherd’s rod summed up everything Pastor Mike Shaw has meant to his congregation over the past three decades.

“We’re a people of the book,” Shaw said of his congregation. “I don’t want to give a history lesson; I want to tell them what God said. That’s what a good shepherd does.”

Shaw came to Pelham First Baptist Church the day after Mother’s Day in 1979.

It didn’t take him long to fall in love with the spirit of the congregation.

He said the people remain on mission, all the time.

“We’re mobilized to do block parties,” Shaw said. “We can set up music, drama productions and offer God’s message. We take the church outdoors.”

They’ve also pitched in to build other churches. They’ve helped plant Clearwater, Riverside and Riverchase Baptist Churches, as well as the new Hispanic ministry of the Church of the Highlands.

“I don’t tell the church what to do,” Shaw said. “I’m the spiritual leader, but we all watch for the path God wants us to follow.”

Shaw prays for his congregation incessantly. But he said the prayer line runs both ways.

Health concerns began plaguing Shaw seven years ago.

He was diagnosed with bladder cancer in 2002 and later prostate cancer in 2007. Last August, doctors found a small aneurysm on the backside of his heart.

Shaw said he feels blessed to have a good prayer line backing him up.

“I look at all I’ve been through and know that God’s hand of protection was on me,” Shaw said. “I’ve been prayed over from all over the world.”

Shaw said he’d relay the good word for another decade if God wants it that way.

“I tell them the folks of Israel only had to put up with Moses 40 years,” Shaw said. “They’ll only have to put up with me about that long if it’s God’s will.”

Shaw said he knows most of the church only puts up with him because they love his wife Mary. Still, he said he looks to finish his time there strong.

“I serve the greatest people. They are more than church members to me; they are family,” he said.

Shaw looks forward to celebrating the church’s 100th anniversary with his family of fellow believers in August.