by Laurie Lind, staff writer
Three women share a common friend – Entrust’s Sandy Shaffer. Sandy has discipled and mentored Lilie, Natasha, Angel and many more women over the years through her involvement in the International Chapel of Vienna, international women’s groups and Entrust ministry training courses. Those women, in turn, are reaching, teaching, mentoring and training women in Austria and around the world. Allow us to introduce Lilie, Natasha and Angel.
Lilie, a shepherdLilie Abdul-Malik was born in London, England, and grew up there; she has since lived in Austria, Nigeria, the U.S. and South Africa. On Dec. 21, 1997, in London, she came to saving faith in Christ after running from him for a time. In the early 2000s, in Vienna, Austria, she visited a Bible study group and fell in love.
“I fell in love with the Bible study. I fell in love with the women. They were so open, so receptive.” With that group, Lilie grew deeper in her faith, grew in Christlikeness and received help in her marriage.
The group leader, Sandy, spotted a shepherding gift in Lilie, something Lilie at first resisted. However, after twice taking spiritual gifts tests, she came to recognize God has indeed gifted her in that area.
Thus, she now, along with Natasha Madu, a friend from Macedonia, leads a women’s Bible study in Vienna, and is assistant leader of a Life Group at her church. In both groups, she shepherds and mentors women of varied denominations and nationalities. Her heart, her calling is to “really shepherd women, encourage women, come alongside and help women in various ways, but especially in their relationship to Christ.”
Natasha, a teacherNatasha Madu was born in Macedonia and has lived in Austria more than 25 years. At the age of 21, during a time of deep depression and two suicide attempts, God revealed himself to her in an undeniable and clear way. Her life was instantly transformed. She began attending an international church in Vienna where she grew in her understanding of Scripture and of God’s plan for salvation. “I had the experience first, and the theory came later,” she laughs.
She met her future husband at the church and two years later they married. When she and her husband hit a difficult time in their marriage, Natasha needed some time of reflection in order to think things through and ask God for direction and grace to continue the path God had led her to. A friend connected Natasha with an American couple – Rob and Sandy Shaffer – who were supportive and walked with her through that difficult time. She found in Sandy, a “godly mom figure” who comforted her, listened, empathized and gave her direction.
Natasha began attending one of Sandy’s women’s Bible studies and was encouraged by the spiritual sharpening and strengthening among the women. She took some Entrust ministry training under Sandy’s leadership. Sandy confirmed in Natasha a gift for teaching, a gift Natasha now employs in leading women’s Bible studies. Her infectious joy in the Lord radiates into the lives of people she meets across Vienna. She has been used of God to lead many women to Christ and to encourage them in their walks with God.
Angel, a prayer warriorAngel Mallepudi was raised in a Christian family in India, and has lived in Austria since 1982.
In 2009, her husband Singh was diagnosed with kidney failure and was struggling with depression. At that difficult time, Angel happened to attend the Frauen Frühstück (women’s breakfast) in Vienna, where she met Sandy, who became an encouraging friend and mentor. She also discovered fresh joy in the Lord as she studied the Bible. It’s been “an amazing journey,” Angel says. “God brought me closer to him. I couldn’t keep it to myself. I had to tell my husband … we have joy now; we experience miraculous things.”
Among those miracles are a newfound ability to speak to groups and a prayer ministry. Angel says she was always extremely shy. But on a trip to India to care for some property matters, she found herself speaking to a group of 40-50 people, and having people wait in line afterwards for prayer with her.
She now regularly receives invitations to speak. People call her to ask for prayer. She maintains a prayer list of over 400 requests. One day a week, Angel holds a prayer day on which she prays over all the requests on her list, people come to her for prayer, and others join her on an international prayer conference call.
Angel and Singh paid for the building and are privately funding the staff of a church in India. Angel retired from her nursing career in the fall of 2016 and now uses all her time to minister to women in Austria and in India. She trains women online and carries out additional prayer ministry through Skype. “Whenever she takes a course or a seminar with me in Vienna,” Sandy says,” she asks for all the handouts and uses them to teach women in India.”