Mark was born to missionary parents in Guinea, West Africa in 1967. Six months later the family was kicked out of Guinea and moved to Upper Volta—now called Burkina Faso. When he was six years old he headed off to the International Christian Academy in Ivory Coast. “It was there that I gave my life to Christ at age seven,” he said.
“A year or so later, after reading an account of my near death at birth, I realized that my life was not my own and decided then that I would become a missionary.” After graduation from ICA, he headed off to Toccoa Falls College to prepare for missions service. While there, Mark met and married Libby Harvey. Their first daughter, Naomi, was born there in Toccoa. They then moved up to western New York to do their required two years of home service. The family ended up staying three years. During this time Esther was born. From there they moved to Colorado and lived with Libby’s parents while Mark went to Denver Seminary. After he completed a Master’s degree, they moved again—this time to Russellville, AR and the Southwestern District. “My interest was to teach in a mission’s setting and I felt that more pastoral experience was necessary for that, “Mark noted.
The Shadys loved being in Russellville. “While there, in fact, I began to re-evaluate my desire to be a missionary!” Mark said. “But after three years and with the church’s backing, we moved to Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina.” Naomi and Esther were enrolled in Black Forest Academy (BFA) in Germany and Mark and Libby plunged into language study. “It was hard!” he said. “Language study was hard enough, but having the kids away from home was really difficult. “
“As language study began to draw to a close,” Mark said, “I began to teach at the Mostar Bible School (MBS). Libby began to interact with some of women of the church and we were both asked to teach some extension classes in Sarajevo. During this time Libby was not feeling well. We assumed it was some bug she had picked up. She began to get really weak and so we took her to a local doctor. He took one look and said that Libby had cancer and needed to return to the United States ASAP.”
Within two weeks Libby was dead. “The cancer was aggressive,” Mark said. “She died on Dec 24, 2002, her 36th birthday. God was near the whole time. I can’t describe that here. It was hard. Naomi and Esther were 11 and 9 years old at that time. We lived with Libby’s parents and began the process of learning what it means to ‘walk in the valley of the shadow of death.’ In the months that followed, the question of whether we would be able to return to Bosnia was foremost in my mind. In consultation with the International Ministries of the C&MA, we decided to return in the summer of 2003.
“About the same time, my mother-in-law began encouraging me to think about remarriage,” he noted. “She even began suggesting possible candidates! So, on my 15th year anniversary of being John and Ruth Harvey’s son-in-law, they gave me a gift to take Viviane Miner on a date!”
Viviane is the daughter of John and Janine Schultz, who served 39 years in Indonesia, and the sister of Mitch Schultz, who served in Great Britain for a number of years. Viviane’s husband died 15 months before
Libby’s death. Viviane and Matt had been dorm parents at Dalat in Penang, Malaysia for six years before he was diagnosed with cancer, Viviane said.
Two years after Matt’s death and within a week of their first date, Mark and Viviane wanted to get married. “God, in his gracious way, showed us we were doing the right thing,” Mark said. “After dating five months, we got married and had an instant family of five kids--Viviane’s three: Melanie, Maria, and Maxwell and my two: Naomi and
At IM’s suggestion, Mark said they stayed on in Toccoa for almost two years after their marriage to work through all the issues that develop when blending a family. In August 2005, the Shady Miner family moved to Bosnia. Melanie stayed in Toccoa and completed studies at Toccoa Falls College. Maria, Naomi, Esther and Max all graduated from Black Forest Academy in Germany and then went on to Toccoa Falls College. Maria and Melanie both met their husbands there and now Melanie has two children. Maria and Naomi also graduated from Toccoa and Naomi is in a Master’s program at Lee University. Esther and Max will be finishing at Toccoa in the next couple of years. “Over the years we have all grown closer together. At times it has been difficult, but God is bringing his healing to each of us, “he said.
The Shadys have served in Bosnia for nine years. For the first two years in Bosnia, Viviane was full-time in language study. Mark took six months to refresh his language skills after being gone for 2.5 years. “Since then, I have been teaching at Mostar Bible School,” he said. “I was the assistant director of the school for several years and have been the director for the past three. Viviane has been working with women from the church. She leads an aerobics class, which draws in unchurched ladies. This ‘bridge’ puts the unchurched in contact with believers who also come to exercise. She also started and leads a Mother’s Prayer Group, a weekly meeting of women who pray for their children and grandchildren. Viviane has become well known as a cook—she regularly makes snacks for a youth group and meals for the Bible School students. She has even appeared on a televised Bosnian cooking show!”