Shirley Barnes' Story: Surviving on the Gifts of God's People and Prayer


After Byron asked Shirley to marry him, she had a question for him in return, "You have to promise me. Do you want to be a pastor?"

His father was a pastor, and she thought, "They never have enough money. Our dates were always, 'If Daddy doesn't have to use the car, then we'll go. If not, we'll have to go on the bicycle.'" He said no. Shirley and Byron married and began their life together.

Byron soon enrolled in electronics school, but he surrendered to the ministry when they gave the altar invitation one Sunday night at church. It became clear to Shirley, too, after wrestling three days in prayer, "I decided yes. I guess the Lord wanted me."

In the couple's mid-30s, Byron enrolled in college at Grand Canyon College and took on his first church in Pima, Arizona, for $10 a week. After that, they headed to Texas for seminary at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. For more than 33 years, Shirley and Byron served the Lord all over Arizona and Texas. Unfortunately, even though Shirley worked multiple jobs to supplement their ministerial income over the years, there wasn't much left for retirement savings.

Shirley and Byron found themselves at a financial crossroads upon his retirement from the ministry — Shirley even more so when Byron passed in 2019. However, their daughter heard about the ministry of Mission:Dignity® through her church and passed along the news.

Today, Shirley receives financial assistance each month from Mission:Dignity, empowering her to pay her utility bills and reminding her of the love and care of her Southern Baptist family.

Take it from Shirley, "Because of Mission:Dignity, I'm able to have electricity in my home, food on my table, medicine in the cupboard and gasoline in my car. During our ministry, we survived on the generosity of God's people and prayer. And the same is true today. I survive on the gifts and generosity of God's people who give to Mission:Dignity."

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