Shirley Osbourne is one of my heroes. We met her in Melbourne while she was speaking at a FORGE intensive training session, on spirituality. We immediately realized we would be friends. She is everything I like about a missionary, loving, down to earth, grass roots, strong, courageous and above all… bat shit crazy. She now pastors a church in Melbourne that ministers to a number of needy people from the housing commission flats. She works alongside a number of aids organizations. And is tirelessly working to support her friends, the forgotten poor and marginalized of Melbourne’s inner city.
Shirley one day realized a number of homeless, disenfranchised kids that gathered on the steps of Melbourne’s Flinders Street train station. She did a most logical thing, being a young wife and mother, she started bringing them home to live with her. Starting a ministry called SOS, Steps Outreach Services has over the past 19 years provided shelter for over 300 young people often in her own family home.
I remember her telling us of her learning to teach the bible to this mob of completely unchurched young people. She realized that the story of the good Samaritan would mean nothing to them. So she told them the story of the good Policeman. How would that go over in our Sunday services? Whether she is providing food for her friends in government housing, sitting with a friend struggling with heroin withdrawals, or providing a welcoming space for a pedophile while still protecting the vulnerable this woman has incredible integrity, and humility. She doesn’t think she is special, just doing what God puts in her path. I pray that more ordinary saints like her do the same.