Shellie Gardlock, while serving on a short-term missions trip to Burkina Faso died suddenly Wednesday morning in the home of Lorinda Robinson. She was not feeling well the previous night. Although a doctor examined her, finding her vital signs normal, Shellie, who was in her early 30s, collapsed in Lorinda’s home.
An audio file of the announcement to the congregation and an audio file of the sermon presented to her church family the Sunday following her death is at the end of this page.
A memorial service for Shellie (pictured standing on the right) will be held on December 15 at 11:00 a.m. at Curwensville Alliance Church. The service will be followed by a luncheon in the Activities Center. If you are part of the church family, I am sure that Autumn Howell or Karen Selfridge would be glad to hear from you if you can provide food for this luncheon. Jack and Marilynn have indicated any memorials should go to the church memorial fund.
As you think of Shellie, please pray along these lines:
- Pray for Jack, Marilynn, and Grandma Gertie. Pray that they will be able to see God’s love and grace in their time of loss. They are doing well, all things considered. After the Burkina field director spoke to Marilynn he spoke to me and said, “What a woman of faith.” God’s giving her and Jack grace as you pray. They appreciate your prayers and are appreciative of the phone calls and visits.
- Pray for Wendy. She and Shellie have been the closest of friends for years. We can only imagine what she’s going through.
- Pray for those in Burkina, especially Lorinda. They too have lost a loved one and have the task of inventorying her belongings and communicating with her family here. Pray that God will embrace them in his comforting arms as they carry out their tasks.
- Pray for the process of “repatriation”, that is the return of Shellie’s body to the United States. The woman at the US Consulate in Burkina who is in charge of this is a graduate of Juniata College. She has been unbelievably helpful. Additionally, Esther, the assistant to the VP for Overseas Ministries in the National Office has been extremely gracious in helping with this process. Likewise, those on the field, from Lorinda to the field leadership have shown extreme professionalism with unparalleled compassionate Christian grace.
- Pray regarding the memorial service — that God would orchestrate this services.
- Pray that God would use Shellie’s death as he used her life — for his glory. In Burkina, a student minister from the university went to tell Shellie’s students the news. In his conversation with them, he mentioned that the night before her death, Shellie had remarked to Lorinda, “If I don’t make it, I know where I am going.” This is a concept these students would have trouble grasping since they know nothing of the confidence a Christian has before God. Pray that this presentation from the campus minister would be effective.
- Pray for other friends and family. As many have commented — “Shellie was ours.” She belonged to us. Pray for our church family as we express our joy for her life, our grief for our loss, and our confidence in the victory Christ gives us beyond the grave.
Emails and phone calls from all over the world have come in from missionaries who have visited with us here. They tell us that they are praying for us during this very difficult time. The Alliance president called me and asked, “Will you please share Shellie’s life with me?” After I gave him her story, he asked for the family’s phone number and called them.
The District Family is also in prayer for us — just as I forward emails to many of you concerning “Alliance Family” requests, other pastors do the same to their flocks. The day she went to be with the Lord, at least one pastor called our church and asked how he could instruct his church to pray in prayer meeting. We are blessed to be part of the Alliance family.
May God continue to care for us as a family and as individuals through this difficult time.
Under God’s Grace,
Audio files concerning Shellie’s death and the Sunday Advent sermon preached at her church are here: