OPAL was founded in 2003 by Geoff Ruston and John Lewis. Both were at the time extensively involved in Christian book selling in the UK and USA. They became aware of the desperate need, and hunger for, affordable Bibles and good-quality Christian literature in the Majority World (Africa, Asia, Latin America).
Here the church is growing fast, there is a passion for evangelism, and there are many training programmes. Those involved in church planting, training and discipleship, desperately need resources. Some struggle to be able to find Bibles and Literature that are accessible in local languages. The vision of OPAL Trust (Overseas Publishing And Literature) is to help address these needs.
Since its beginning, the work has steadily grown. OPAL has been able to send Bibles and literature to over 80 countries worldwide. Through partnership with Christian publishers and local Bible Societies we have been able to obtain Bibles and suitable books at special prices, which makes them accessible to Christian leaders and churches in the Majority World. In 2005 a distribution hub was established in Chingola, Zambia, from which books are accessed from across Central and Southern Africa.
Dr Ian Shaw, CEO
After serving in pastoral ministry for ten years in London and Manchester, Ian worked for twelve years as a lecturer at International Christian College in Glasgow.
He was then involved in ministry with Langham Partnership, and travelled extensively in the Majority World, gaining a wide knowledge of the needs for good quality evangelical literature in churches and Bible colleges in Africa, Asia and South America.
Ian subsequently served as Provost of Union School of Theology in Wales
for three years before joining OPAL in May 2020. As CEO, Ian heads up the OPAL ministry, and works closely with the Board of Trustees in establishing strategic priorities.
Ian writes for OPAL publications, and represents OPAL through speaking and preaching ministry at churches and conferences promoting the cause of mission. If you would like Ian to visit your church or speak at an event please contact him via his email address: firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian has published nine books, the latest of which, Christianity the Biography (IVP, 2016) is a global history of Christianity. Ian is currently working on a book on Evangelicals and Social Action, also due to be published by IVP in 2021. He is married to Christine, who is a teacher, and they have four grown up children and two grandchildren.
Our Ambassadors and Trustees
After a career of 13 years with the National Westminster Bank, Geoff worked with Gospel Literature Outreach in Motherwell for 26 years in various capacities including having responsibility for their wholesale depot, bookshop and other business activities. For a number of years he acted as GLO treasurer and was regularly involved in literature evangelism in Europe. For many years he was a local church elder and missionary secretary. As founder members with others of OPAL in 2003, he and his wife Janet have devoted the past 17 years to developing the ministry. They have rejoiced to see its growth, and from 2021 Geoff assumed a non-executive ambassadorial role.
After a career in industry, John has spent the past 35 years in Christian publishing and book distribution. He worked firstly in UK with STL/Paternoster, and then in USA with OM Literature who later merged with the International Bible Society now known as Biblica, where for a number of years he headed up a division distributing Bibles and books into the Majority World. From 2021 John assumed a non-executive ambassadorial role with OPAL. He serves as an Elder in Peebles Evangelical Church.
Dr. Ian Burness
Chair of Trustees
Ian grew up in Aberdeen, Scotland, and trained as a medical doctor. For 11 years he worked in the local churches among the Luvale people teaching the Bible, and ran a mission hospital on the Zambian/ Angolan border. After returning to the UK, Ian served as General Director of the mission organisation Echoes of Service until 2015. Ian is married to Margaret, and they have three children and eight grandchildren.
Dr. Ian Burness
Chair of Trustees
Richard served in cross-cultural ministry in Peru for 11 years. Currently he works part-time with Echoes International and part-time with GLO Europe equipping, training, and stimulating an interest in missions. Richard is married with two children and lives in Bishop’s Stortford.
Elizabeth is the Commissioning Editor for Keswick Ministries. She has written a number of Bible study guides and edits a daily devotional series. Elizabeth served as a trustee of the Keswick Convention for ten years. She lives in Aberdeen where her husband Jeremy is the teaching pastor at Deeside Christian Fellowship, and they have three sons.
Stephen is a QC based in Northern Ireland. He undertakes a wide Bible teaching ministry at home and abroad. He has served with a variety of Christian organisations and is currently a member of the board of Echoes International. He is married with 4 adult children.
Iain studied theology and law in Scotland, before working as an Assistant Liaison Officer at Buckingham Palace where he led a small weekly prayer meeting with other members of staff. Iain is married and is now based in Scotland as a commended worker, and preaches in various churches throughout the UK.
‘We praise God for the many who have been reached with the gospel and for Christians who have been built up and encouraged in the faith through the work of OPAL Trust’
— Geoff Ruston
Ian and Marilyn CampbellOPAL Associates
Ian and Marilyn oversee the running of our store in Chingola Zambia. For twelve years they served as missionaries in the former Zaire (now Democratic Republic of Congo) before moving to Zambia in 1999. They are also involved in prison visitation, running Emmaus courses, and youth work. Ian and Marilyn are developing a new ministry centre in Lusaka. They have two daughters and three grandchildren.
Kelvin SamwataOPAL Associate
Kelvin acts as an ambassador for OPAL by promoting the work in Zambia and beyond. He has a busy preaching ministry and serves on the board of a number of Christian organisations and schools. He is married to Joyce and they have four children.
OPAL Council of Reference
Dr Joshua Fitzhugh – Myrtlefield Trust.
Mr Alan Gamble – retired senior Scottish lawyer.
Mr Pieter Kwant: International Programme Director, Langham Literature.
Dr Stephen McQuoid: General Director of Gospel Literature Outreach.