Godly men are easier to admire than to define. They simply do the right thing at the right time—seldom conscious of their impact. They think of others before themselves. Gordon Shira was definitely a godly man—a great godly man.
He left for heaven on June 7, 2017, and we at ANM will truly miss him. We all called him “Dad Gordon,” because he considered each one of us his children. Our children and grandchildren also became his. He entered into everyone’s life with prayers and support. That support could be anything from sending arts and crafts to our kids, to giving clothes and shoes to the pastors on staff, to $20 bills secretly slipped into our pockets.
He had a list of 500–600 people that he prayed for regularly. Newspapers were searched to find the outcome of the various sports our kids were involved in. He kept up with politics and other interests to open conversations with us. He gave us time, showed us by example, directed us with grace and mercy, taught us the importance of thankfulness and communicated to us the inerrant Word of God. He loved us and profoundly influenced each of our lives and ministries. Yes, we will miss him, but he waited all his life to be where he is today!
When ANM began in 1992 Gordon asked, “What can I do to help?” Receipts to the donors needed to be typed. Gordon had never typed before, but he agreed to do that job. His two fingers typed 12,000 receipts until we came up with computers! He continued to serve in the receipting department until March of this year.
The board of directors needed a chaplain. Gordon was the answer. The office needed a chaplain. Gordon took that on and trained others as ANM grew. He remained our senior chaplain until the end. Gordon volunteered at ANM for 25 years. During that time he blessed hundreds of the 8,000 missionaries we partner with in more than 80 countries!
People came to ANM to seek ministry positions and Gordon wanted everyone to have a part in “the family.” He even took some aside and said, “I’ve served in ministries all over the country and there is none like this one!”
And Gordon did work all over the country. He pastored churches in Indiana, Illinois, and California. He directed a large senior center in Los Angeles. In Mexico he worked with children and opened a training center for pastors. He served for 16 years on skid row in California.
One night a man asked him for a pair of socks. “I don’t have any, but I’ll bring you some next week.” When he got to his car, Gordon took off his own pair of socks and took them back to the man in need. From then on he was known as “the sock man,” because he never went back to those down and outers without socks in his hands.
He became the Salvation Army chaplain in Charlottesville, Virginia, for 13 years. He and his wife Ruth conducted Sunday morning services at a Charlottesville nursing home for seven years. He was always giving!
Gordon learned compassion from his parents, who had a heart for people, fed beggars, and hated liars. Whooping Cough left Gordon cross eyed as a child, which made him concerned for others who were laughed at, bullied, or shunned. His condition also compelled him to cling to the God he knew loved him. When he was six years old, his grandmother took him to the eye doctor. Since Gordon could see, the doctor didn’t want to risk blindness from a botched surgery. But Gordon would say, “No one wants to date a cross-eyed boy, and no church wants a cross-eyed pastor.”
It was not until his sophomore year in college that surgery was finally tried and it was a success. While he worked at Salvation Army, Gordon met a teen-aged cross-eyed girl. He found a surgeon and paid for her eye operation.
What an example of a great godly man! Gordon exemplified what Romans 12:10 says: “Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves.” May we aim to do this too.
Dee Brookshire writes for ANM publications.
Memorial gifts may be made to Yogyakarta Ministries Training Center in Indonesia through Advancing Native Missions, where Gordon volunteered for 25 years in what he called “the crowning glory” of his life. Donate here.