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Saturday, April 4, 2015

Baby Shirley is home in Swaziland. Gogo Shirley is home in heaven.

Baby Shirley at 6-months old after surgery.
This blog is based on a eulogy that I wrote for Shirley Ward’s funeral on Thursday of this past week. It’s a story of incredible “coincidence”, or “fate” or “God’s plan” – depending on how you see things. I personally see the hand of God in this situation.

I want to tell you a story.

A story of two people named Shirley, both of who were chosen by God to make a difference in the world.  It is a story of hope from hopelessness and one that will be told for generations to come.

The first person we will call “Gogo Shirley”.  Gogo Shirley is our friend, our sister, our mother, our Grandmother and our Great Grandmother whom we celebrate this day. 

The second person we will call “Baby Shirley”.

The very day that Gogo Shirley was taken to Durban, was the very day that a little baby girl was picked up at the Mawelawela Woman’s Prison and sent to live at the El Roi Baby Home.  We named this little one “Baby Shirley” because she had just survived the fight of her life, and we wanted to give her a strong name and a namesake who was a Jesus-loving, God-fearing, prayer warrior.  We named her after Gogo Shirley Ward.

Gogo Shirley in July 2014 at the official opening of the El Rofi Medical Clinic.
This little baby had a horrific start to life.  Her young mother was filled with hopelessness and decided to dump her newborn baby in to a pit latrine after giving birth on September 10, 2014.  Six hours later the mother went back to check on the baby only to find her still alive, so then she threw in fire on top of Baby Shirley to try to kill her.  Someone heard the small baby’s cry and ran to her rescue, and because of that person, Baby Shirley lived.  
Baby Shirley at 6-weeks before surgery.
Baby Shirley’s injuries were extensive and she spent 6-weeks in a government hospital fighting for her life.  When she came to the El Roi Baby home she struggled to breathe and ended up in hospital with pneumonia several times because food would go down in to her lungs.

We know that Gogo Shirley prayed tirelessly for Baby Shirley, and the Lord heard her prayers.  Baby Shirley was taken to the US for surgery and care.  She is alive and well, and even thriving after her life-saving, life-giving surgery.

Baby Shirley was being loved and cared for by complete strangers who claimed her as their own and worked diligently to save her life, while Gogo Shirley was being loved and cared for by her own family who did everything in their power to help extend her life.

But God’s plans are not always our plans.  It is He who gives life, and it is He who takes life away. He has numbered our days and it Is He who decides when we are to be taken home.

And do you know what?  The very day that Gogo Shirley went “home” to be with the Lord was the very day that Baby Shirley came “home” to Swaziland to live at the EL Roi Baby home again. 

This story is one of so many stories that each of us could share about seeing the hand of God on Shirley Ward’s life. 

·      It was Shirley who met with Cindy Van Wyk and told her we were looking to buy some land, which eventually became Project Canaan.

·      It was Shirley who sat for hours (or days) on end in government offices to try to determine the process for opening a home for abandoned babies.

·      It was Shirley who met the Social Welfare Officer who brought the first baby, Joshua, to the El Roi Baby home.

·      It was Shirley who answered phones, ran to the bank, anointed babies with oil, cried when babies died, cheered when babies were rescued, called the Inkhosikati when we needed help, met with government leaders and pastors to make sure that the orphans of the Kingdom were allowed to attend Litsemba.

·      It was Shirley delivered food to families in need and to our partner homes.  Shirley reconciled accounts, handled accounting and paid bills.

·      Shirley was a mighty warrior with a sharp sword and an army of angels behind her.

Shirley, you were a great friend, an incredible role model and have changed the face of Swaziland.  You will be greatly missed.

Your name will be known to all of the children at Project Canaan and your strength, your fortitude and your faith will remain with all who live in the city on the hill that you helped build.  You finished well.

Shirley’s family had a service in her honor on Thursday, and her ashes will be returned to Swaziland where she will be buried on Project Canaan when we arrive back at the end of April.

All that can be said now is “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Live from Georgia … He is risen indeed!  Happy Easter everyone.


1 comment:

  1. What an inspiring story. God's rest to Gogo Shirley and God's continued healing and blessings for Baby Shirley!