Please login to continue
Having Trouble Logging In?
Reset your password
Don't have an account?
Sign Up Now!
Register for a Free Account
Choose Password
Confirm Password

Your account has been created!

Hettie Shingledecker

Missionary in Burundi
"Witnessed God's Hand at Work"
By Rachel Elwood, Staff Writer, 2012

Hettie Shingledecker would have been the first to admit that she was not gifted with missionary superpowers. But because she allowed the Lord to work through her, God used her as a tool to build His kingdom

Born on October 1, 1917, in East Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Hettie grew up in a Christian home. At the age of 12, she heard God’s calling to missions. She wanted to go to college, but by the 1930s the Great Depression had taken its toll on her family. Still, her father was able to send Hettie to Juniata College in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. She had met Harold Shingledecker during her senior year in high school, and within two years they were engaged. She transferred to Asbury College (Kentucky) to complete her education, graduating with a degree in English education.

Hettie and Harold were married in October 1938 and moved back to Pennsylvania to pastor four churches. They left the pastorate to allow Harold to study at Asbury Theological Seminary. Hettie also attended the seminary, starting the first year the seminary accepted female students. After Harold completed his Master of Divinity degree, God led them to World Gospel Mission.

In 1944, Hettie and Harold sailed for Burundi, Africa, but World War II was going full force. Two years prior, a WGM missionary couple’s boat had been torpedoed by a German submarine while sailing to Burundi. The couple survived, but WGM sent the Shingledeckers in their place. Three months after arriving, Hettie and Harold were the only WGM missionary couple in Burundi. They settled at Kayero station.

In 1945, they lost their first child at birth. This tragedy spurred them to start a school. Hettie served as treasurer and teacher, and Kayero ultimately grew into the largest of four stations, including a school, a church, and a medical clinic. During this time, God blessed the Shingledeckers with four children—Paul, Faith, Ken, and Lois.

Hettie’s greatest service was her gracious Christ-like example. Her son Paul and his wife, Pat, spent the first three years of their ministry alongside Harold and Hettie in Burundi. Pat attributed her growth as a missionary to her mother-in-law. “I’ve never met a holier person than her,” reflected Pat. “If it wasn’t for Hettie, I would have never made it on the mission field.”

In 1979, just six weeks before Hettie and Harold were to retire, they were forced to leave the country for political reasons. After returning to the United States, Hettie and Harold took positions with WGM’s credit union, becoming the first paid employees of the credit union. They worked there for nine years and spent six years volunteering. In 1996, Hettie and Harold moved to Avon Park, Florida, where Harold passed away in 2003. Last year, Hettie moved to Marion, Indiana, to live with Paul and Pat.

In her 96 years, Hettie experienced many blessings and much turmoil, but most of all, she witnessed God’s hand at work. With deepest love and appreciation, WGM celebrates her 37 years of missionary service and lifetime of serving her Lord and Savior. We rejoice that she is in the Lord’s presence today.

Support a Missionary
Global Impact Fund
Advancing the Great Commission through your partnership.