- Home church: Mount Pleasant BIC (Mount Joy, Pa.)
- Serving since: 1958
- Married: 1956
- Children: Doug, Don, Daniel, and Dennis
Jake Shenk grew up near Mount Joy, Pa., as one of nine children. Nancy was raised in Dallas Center, Iowa, with two younger brothers. Jake accepted the Lord in a revival meeting at Mount Pleasant BIC, Mount Joy, Pa., when he was 15 years old and was baptized just a few months later. While praying at home two years later, Jake recalls God’s Spirit empowering him, sensing a clear call to mission service in Africa.
Nancy Shenk accepted Christ at a revival meeting when she was nine years old and was baptized three years later. She first sensed a call to missions during camp meeting when she was about ten years old. During her senior year of high school in 1954, she consecrated her life to going wherever God called.
Jake and Nancy met at Messiah College and were married December 1956. Jake obtained a bachelor’s degree in Bible knowledge and a teacher’s certificate in science in 1958. Nancy attended Messiah College for two years.
Partnering with BIC U.S. World Missions, the Shenks served in Zimbabwe (then Southern Rhodesia) from 1958 to 1976, with two furloughs in between. Jake served in many capacities: teacher, pastor/preacher, administrator, farm manager, and author. In 1970, Jake wrote a Ndebele grammar book, which has become a leading resource for Zimbabweans today. From 1972 to 1976, he prepared 27 Bible and Bible-related courses in Ndebele while organizing and operating the Zimbabwean Theological Education by Extension (TEE) program. Nancy typed all the stencils and put together the TEE booklets.
Due to war in the country, Jake and Nancy did not return to Zimbabwe after their 1977 furlough. During this time, they studied missiology for one year at Fuller School of World Mission. They then returned to Pennsylvania, where Jake became the youth director at Mount Pleasant BIC.
In 1983, at the invitation of the Zimbabwean BIC Church, Jake and Nancy returned to Zimbabwe. There, Jake served as a treasurer (financial secretary) for the next eight years, while also pastoring the Mpopoma Church and managing the Wanezi Farm. Nancy became the purchasing manager at the Matopo Book Centre.
In 1991, Jake was chosen as overseer for the 51 churches in the Mtshabezi District. During that time, he continued to manage the Mtshabezi farm and served as the assistant chairman of general conference, as well as coordinator for mission personnel. Between 1994 and 1999, Jake served as bishop of the BIC Church in Zimbabwe. Through this time, Nancy was responsible for the women’s work in the Church.
Jake and Nancy Shenk are based in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. Jake assists the church in Zimbabwe with its leadership training programs and its agricultural projects. In addition, he serves in interdenominational ministries as chairman of the board of trustees of the Theological College of Zimbabwe. In each of these roles, Nancy serves in a supportive role and provides secretarial expertise.
Jake and Nancy have four sons, ten grandchildren, and five great-grandchildren. Of their children, three of their sons and families have served under BIC U.S. World Missions. Jake likes photography, hunting, and sports, and Nancy enjoys reading and counted cross-stitch.
Update: On December 31, 2020, Jake Shenk went home to be with the Lord. Nancy plans to return to the U.S. in mid-March and will retire after more than 53 years of service with BIC U.S. World Missions in Zimbabwe.