“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Tim 4:7-8)
A hero is defined as someone who is admired for doing something brave or achieving something great.
Society often look at people who achieve what is seen as admirable and outstanding as is the case of soldiers who are honoured for bravery and sacrifice in the defence of a country. There are others who are honoured for their bravery for standing against repressive regimes and advocating for the rights of the people.
There are some heroes however, whose actions impact other people quietly. They sacrifice their time and resources to ensure that others are cared for and encouraged. They are generally unknown in the wider society and they are happy with that. They just keep on giving until the end and are missed greatly by those who were beneficiaries of their giving.
One of such people is my friend and ‘adoptive mom’, Shirley Lawson. Last month, I received news of her passing on to glory. Although she had been ill for a while and I had been informed she had a short time to live, I was still crushed when I heard the news of her passing.
You probably will be amazed to know that Shirley and I never saw each other face to face. We met sometime in 2002 through one of my Biblepraise readers. From the moment we exchanged our first email, a mother-son relationship began. She was an American who lived in Florida USA and at that time, I lived in Lagos, Nigeria.
The story of my life will never be complete without a mention of this godly and loving woman. I ‘met’ her at a time when I was going through a lot challenges in my life. The Lord knew that I needed someone who I could be open with and who would encourage and challenge me and that was who Shirley was to me.
When entered for a part-time degree course in the University, her advice, prayers as well as financial giving contributed immensely to my success. The amazing thing was that there were times when I was on the verge of giving up. Somehow, Shirley would communicate with me and give me a word of encouragement that would rekindle my drive to finish.
The memory of one particular case would always be with me. I was at work one morning and had just finished my morning devotion. Before I left home that morning, I observed that we had no food and I was wondering what I was going to do. So I prayed to God and asked him to provide for us. Realistically speaking, I had no idea where the provision would come from and I was not inclined to ask anyone for money.
Imagine my shock when I logged into my email and the first email I saw was from Shirley; ‘Hello son, as I was praying, I felt the Lord telling me you needed money. So I am sending you a hundred dollars’. Let me know when you get it’. I struggled to contain the tears. I just kept saying, ‘God, you answer prayers!’. This for me, was one of the fastest answers to my prayers. My wife was in absolute shock when I came home with 2 shopping bags filled with food stuff. I am sure you can imagine the questions and answers that followed.
Shirley Lawson was an encourager. After sharing one my frustrations with her, she responded, “We agree with you that everything will be settled in ample time my son, kick that evil one in his “hinny” and boot him out of your space. Keep trusting the Father to solve this “slight” problem. You must keep the faith that gets answers when everything looks bad. You are God’s kid and He will move for you”. What an encouragement from someone thousands of miles away from me, yet so close to understand how I felt at that point in time in my life!
Shirley was not just a godly mother. She was a loving and devoted wife. When her husband with whom she had spent 55 loving years, passed on to glory in August 2010, she sent an email to her close friends of which I am privileged to be one. She concluded the email with this; “This is all for tonight, don’t feel sad for me, I am under the care of a wonderful Father and will have the comforter help me through the days, weeks and years to some, Amen”.
I prayed that the Lord would give me the opportunity to meet this wonderful woman who was like a mother to me. Although I was disappointed that I did not get to meet her here in the flesh, I know for certain that I will see her on the other side of eternity and what a day that would be!
I learnt so much from this wonderful woman. I learnt how to love unconditionally, I learnt how to give to the needs of others and I learnt how to stand in the gap in prayer for others. ‘Mom’ Shirley had an email prayer group and every week she would send out prayer requests. It did not matter whether she knew these people or not. Every week she would send updates informing us of what she called ‘Praise reports’, which were answers to prayers as well as new requests.
There is no doubt Shirley Lawson had a profound impact on my life. I will always remember and cherish her in my heart. She has fought the good fight and finished the race. I have no doubt that she is resting from all her labours here on earth.
She may not be seen as a hero in our world but in my books and in the books of those who knew her but more importantly, in heaven’s books, she is a hero.
Steve Popoola is the editor of Biblepraise Newsletter and the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online at http://www.biblepraise.org. He lives in Kent, United Kingdom, where he works as an IT Professional. He currently serves as a Worship Leader as well as Home Group Leader in his local church and on occasion, speaks at invited events. He is the founder of the Biblepraise Fellowship Online Ministry and Moderator/Editor of the Biblepraise Newsletter. He can be reached through His email address, firstname.lastname@example.org