QUESTIONS FOR HEART OF A LIONESS by Irene Gleeson with Nicole Partridge.

  1. Rejected by her father, and the loss of her mother, led Irene to marry and have children early. What distractions did she consider when everyday life became monotonous?
  2. Why did she walk out on her family?
  3. She sought meaning in Buddhism, night clubs and alcohol and moved in with Jeff. Where did she find relief?
  4. Irene’s grandmother attended a local Catholic church where Irene describes that as a child she pleaded with Jesus to rescue her from her home life. When she finally accepted Jesus at the warehouse church by the beach, what changes occurred in her life?
  5. In the years that followed, what were the significant events that led Irene to Africa?
  6. Would you consider mission work in such a primitive environment?
  7. Marriage to Jeff meant a sense of purpose, and a man who could do the physical labour of setting up on arrival in Uganda. But the failure of their marriage seemed to come out of the blue.  Do you think there were signs in Australia which might have signalled warnings to Irene?  Could she have avoided this catastrophe with counselling or going to Africa with an established mission?
  8. Despite many setbacks, Irene trusted God to protect and guide her. Many people thought they could discourage her and cause her to give up.  Why do you think she was able to keep going?
  9. Irene’s legacy is still continuing and the stories of the children shared at the end of the book are astounding. I was challenged by the costs that each one paid in their determination to live and learn. What sort of message does this send to us in our comfortable lifestyles?
  10. Even while Irene was suffering terminal cancer, she felt that she had work to do. What can we learn from her example?
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HEART OF A LIONESS by Irene Gleeson with Nicole Partridge

heart of lionessAt 35, Irene Gleeson’s life was all but over. Her first marriage had fallen apart, her family home had been sold and her children were on a path of self-destruction. Disillusioned and anxious, she sought answers in all manner of places, but when this all came to nothing, she spiralled further into the abyss. Broke and depressed, suicidal and trawling the night clubs looking for love, Irene made an unexpected discovery of God’s love on the 28th of November, 1982. Standing at the back of a small beachside church, the presence of God embraced her, and in that moment, she was finally free. With a renewed sense of purpose, peace and several answered prayers, Irene asked this of her saviour: “Jesus, you’ve done this for me, what can I do for you?” What followed was a commitment by Irene and her then second husband to sponsoring children from around the world and embarking on short-term missions’ trips. But it was a visit to Ethiopia in 1988 to meet their sponsored children that would be the turning point. In February 1992, Irene and her husband sold up everything, waved goodbye to family and friends and shipped their modest aluminium caravan 12,000 kms from the warm, white sands of Australia to the red, dust of Uganda. In a small isolated community on the Sudan border, the couple began their work of rescuing and rehabilitating child soldiers and orphans. Irene taught the children to sing and then to read and write – eventually adding feeding, education and medical care to her repertoire. While the work continued to grow and flourish, her relationship didn’t, and before long, she found herself alone – yet again. Irene forged ahead despite the hardships – extreme isolation, swelteringly hot days, repeated bouts of malaria and several attacks by rebels. Hand in hand with Jesus, she carved out a global organisation that has left an indelible imprint on the hearts and lives of 20,000 war affected Ugandans. Heart of a Lioness will take readers on Irene’s journey of obedience, sacrifice and unwavering faith. A moving narrative filled with drama, humour and deeply personal insights, Irene recounts story after story of God’s miracles amidst the frustrations of running a ministry as an older single white woman. The book will challenge and inspire readers to find their mission in life and will reinforce the notion that no matter who you are, or where you’ve been – it’s never too late to find your purpose.