The Shireys are back on the road after a year of medical setbacks
By John Herndon, KentuckySings.com
LAWRENCEBURG, Ky. — You simply can’t spend time around Wayne and Darlene Shirey without being uplifted and reminded of God’s goodness.
It doesn’t matter if you are watching them on stage or interacting with the gospel music veterans at the product table or in a church lobby. Their lives and ministry is always about the wonderful nature of God.
They’ve sung about it for years. They’ve lived it up close and personal over the last 12 months or so.
And through it all, Darlene says, the devil tried to bring them down. “He ain’t going to win,” she says with that South Carolina accent.
Darlene Shirey can only smile and chuckle when thinking about being on stage at Sand Spring Baptist Church a few minutes before. It was another chapter in a remarkable comeback for a couple that has battled more medical adversity in the past year than most will encounter in a lifetime.
“It all started in August of last year when he went in for a checkup,” Darlene says of the day her husband was having some chest pains. Soon after, Wayne Shirey came through triple bypass surgery and seemed to be almost as good as new.
“He was in the emergency room three weeks later when the gallbladder attack happened,” Darlene remembers. Wayne’s gallbladder had ruptured, but being so close to the heart surgery, the doctors felt it would not be wise to cut again so soon.
“They sent me home with pain medicine,” Wayne remembers. “It had ruptured. Then it rotted.”
But while the family was still at the hospital for Wayne’s visit, Darlene suffered a stroke.
“I couldn’t walk. I couldn’t even pick up my leg or my foot,” she says. “My whole right side, I couldn’t move my arm. I couldn’t do anything on my right side. I took my therapy and God took care of that.”
But in January, Darlene suffered a second stroke. “That one affected the cerebellum,” she says. “It affected my balance and I am still having a little balance problem.”
It was barely noticeable as The Shireys delivered a powerful set opening for 11th Hour on Aug. 18. Wayne and Darlene, along with her brother, Kenny Clark, who was filling a vacancy in the trio, delivered praises to God while challenging and encouraging an enthusiastic audience.
And The Shireys shared their testimonies. They’ve always left everything in God’s hands and the past year has been no different.
“God gave us a song, ‘Why Should I Worry,’” Darlene says. “I really didn’t want to record that for some reason but Rachael (one the Shirey’s daughters) said ‘Mom, we’ve got to. God spoke to me in a dream.”
(Rachael Shirey Flowers decided to leave the road at the end of 2019 to raise her small children. She is involved in ministry with her husband in Georgia.)
The Shireys tinkered with C.T and Becky Townsend’s song a bit, changing the key so Darlene could sing it more naturally and effectively. She believes “Why Should I Worry?” speaks to the last year in the life of The Shireys.
Even though The Shireys released the song in 2018, it came to life again in 2021-2022. The final line of the chorus, “I’ll call on the Master ‘til the storm passes by.”
That’s Darlene and Wayne Shirey today.
“During that time period, the devil said, ‘You will never sing again. You will never walk,” Darlene remembers. “But God spoke to us. Why should I worry? Why should I fear? There is an incredible message in that song. We can give our testimony to what God is doing.”
“What good is worrying,” adds Wayne, who is 75 years old. “It only makes things worse.”
Through the months of recovery, the Shireys’ three children made multiple trips to their parents’ home in West Columbia, South Carolina.
“All of our children live in three different states,” Darlene says. “We have Rachael in Georgia. She is about four hours away. We have Chris and his family in North Carolina, about three hours from us. And Victoria (Bowlin) lives in Nashville about seven-and-a-half hours from us. The three took turns coming home to take care of us. They were so wonderful.”
Eventually Wayne’s gallbladder was removed just in time before gangrene could develop, but he got some more medical news earlier this summer.
“I went to the emergency room. My head was spinning,” Wayne says. “I was dizzy. They did an MRI on me from my heart to my brain to make sure I had not had a stroke. When they got it back, they said, ‘Hey, has anybody ever told you you’ve got a brain tumor?”
It was news to Wayne Shirey. “So they showed me a picture of my brain and said (the tumor) was probably over two years old. It had a lot of calcium in it and was benign. It’s pretty good size. I haven’t had any headaches or anything that would indicate that I had a tumor on my brain, so we will leave it in the Lord’s hands. I know there are a lot of prayers going up for me.”
The Shireys are doing what they can to minister wherever God leads them.
“You know, God puts you where he wants you at the right time,” Darlene says. “We have learned wherever He leads us, whether it is a church of 2,000 or a church of 200 or even 20, there’s somebody that needs the message The Shireys sing and that’s why we have this ministry.
“God put each ministry where He wants us. Wherever God wants to send us this year, it’s where we will go.”
Wayne adds, “We always give an invitation. You never know when someone in the audience has a need.”
And Darlene believes The Shireys have again been reminded of God’s care in the last year and even in a time of transition and a vacancy in the trio, they trust him going to the end of 2022 and into 2023.
“God works everything the way He wants and we give Him glory,” she says. “If God wants us to do a duet, we will do that. If he wants us to do a third part, we will do that. ‘
“He always provides.”
And when God does that, The Shireys know the devil “ain’t gonna win!”
Shireys opening for 11th Hour a special night
While The Shireys have been a longtime favorite at Sand Spring Baptist, their appearance on August 18 was a milestone moment in their ministry.
That night, The Shireys opened for 11th Hour, one of southern gospel’s hottest young groups. On stage with 11th Hour was The Shireys’ daughter, Victoria Shirey Bowlin.
Victoria sang with The Shireys for over 20 years before moving to Nashville in 2014. After seven years of working strictly as a soloist, Victoria joined 11th Hour in the summer of 2021.
It was the first time The Shireys and 11th Hour had been on the same program and it was obvious through the night that both groups were enjoying their time together.
“It was so awesome to see them and how they are using our daughter,” Darlene Shirey said of 11th Hour. “And she loves what she is doing. God really opened that door for her and we are so proud of her.”
All three of the Shireys’ children are involved in some form of ministry and it’s not something Wayne Shirey takes for granted.
“What a big-time blessing that is to have all three of your children in ministry,” he says.