This past Monday, right after preaching at the Capitol Connection meeting in Washington D.C., I received a phone call from Terrie letting me know that her mother had just gone to be with the Lord.
In some ways, we were not shocked as Shirley (aged ninety-one) had been in hospice care since this summer. But her call Home on Monday came so quickly that we were surprised, and I wished I had been able to be with Terrie at that time.
These past couple of days, as I’ve been preparing for Shirley’s funeral service, I’ve been remembering the many ways Shirley served her family and her Saviour. And I’ve been remembering the difference that Jesus makes in a life.
Shirley was born in Chicago. Her father suffered from polio, and her mother died of tuberculosis when Shirley was just five years old.
At the age of sixteen, she and her friend, Frances, set out for California where she found work in the naval shipyards at Mare Island, San Francisco. She was part of the famous women’s group known as “Rosie the Riveters” who made weapons for the war effort. She told us that at one time her job was to “cap” torpedoes at the factory.
Shirley married Como Cosmo Bianco, and together they owned various restaurants in the San Jose area where Terrie then grew up.
But the turning point of Shirley’s life came a few years later when a soulwinner from Liberty Baptist Church in San Jose knocked on the Bianco door. He was not able to share the gospel that day, but he did get permission for Terrie and her brother, Gary, to ride the bus. The second week after hearing the story of salvation, Terrie trusted Christ as her Saviour as a ten-year-old girl.
After Terrie was saved, my mother, Maxine Chappell, made a follow up visit to the home to speak with Terrie’s parents about Terrie getting baptized. It was during that visit that Shirley heard the gospel and trusted Christ.
Neither my mother nor Terrie’s mother had any idea that one day Terrie and I would marry or how intertwined their lives would become. But I’m so thankful for my mom’s faithfulness to reach out to another mom, married to an alcoholic husband, who knew very little about the Lord, and to share with her the truth of the gospel.
Fast forward the story nearly fifteen years. In 1986, Como had just retired, and he and Shirley moved to Lancaster to live closer to us. (We had just moved to Lancaster a few months previous.)
On the first Easter Sunday after moving to Lancaster, Shirley asked to be baptized, and she joined Lancaster Baptist Church. (Como would be saved and baptized nearly ten years later.)
The next thirty years of Shirley’s life became her most fruitful as she wholeheartedly invested herself in serving the Lord.
Shirley was a woman who exemplified the joy of her salvation. In her “fourth quarter” she was a model of 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.”
Shirley faithfully volunteered wherever needed. She loved helping in the church office. She served meals to the college students with joy and graciousness. She was always faithful to church—there whenever the doors were open. She rejoiced with those who rejoiced and wept with those who wept. She truly embodied the best of the spirit of Lancaster Baptist Church.
Additionally, Shirley became one of the most faithful soulwinners of our church—always out on Thursday mornings with a partner from church to share the gospel, and also always ready to share it throughout the week.
Shirley loved her family dearly. She loved me, not only as her son-in-law, but as a pastor and friend. I am honored to preach her Homegoing service this week.
Please pray for the Lord’s comfort for Terrie and our family during this time. Please pray for me as I preach Shirley’s funeral service. And please pray that this service will be honoring to Shirley and glorifying to the Lord as I preach the gospel that she embraced.
The service will be at Saturday, March 18, 2017 at 11:00 a.m. at Lancaster Baptist Church: 4020 East Lancaster Boulevard, Lancaster, California. It will also be live streamed at lbclive.tv.