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  • Writer's pictureDavid and Marilynn Chadwick

Unlikely Heroes: A Tough and Tender Warrior

by Marilynn Chadwick

One of the most inspiring “real life” women of valor I have ever known was Barbara Brewton Cameron. This vibrant and joyful woman with an easy laugh and a giant heart was a powerful leader in her community. She became a dear friend, mentor, and role model. During our fifteen-year friendship, Barbara opened my eyes to the powerful impact that one ordinary woman can have on her family, her community, and an entire city.

Years before I met Barbara, her husband had been gunned down in a drive-by shooting while walking home from work, leaving her with three small children to raise on her own. “He was a wonderful man—a good husband and father—and I was devastated,” she said. “I didn’t even want to go on living.” The community in Charlotte where Barbara lived was described by The New York Times as one of the most violent neighborhoods in America. In “an open-air drug market of heroin and cocaine,” gunfire was common around the small, graffiti-marked houses. It had one of the highest murder rates in the country.

After her husband’s murder, Barbara fled to a safer neighborhood to raise her three children. But God began to pursue her, and several years later, she accepted Christ into her life. “I began to hear his voice,” she said. “I knew there was a far greater plan that God had for me.”

“God told me to go back to the old neighborhood and rescue the children. And so, I did.” Barbara said the Lord spoke to her through Matthew 25:35-36: “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me”. She sensed God’s unmistakable call through the words of Scripture: “If you've done it to the least of these, you've done it to me” (v. 41).

Barbara was affectionately known throughout her community as “Pastor Cameron.” She understood firsthand the hopeless despair faced by her community. “I thought of the single moms who were being used and abused by drug dealers...and I thought about the babies.” To Barbara, all children were “babies.” It was those children that Barbara was going back to rescue. She found a small, dilapidated house to rent in the neighborhood and turned it into a mission home to care for children each afternoon. “I gave the little ones baths and helped the older ones with homework. I fed them, too, since they were always hungry.

In time, Barbara’s ministry grew, and she became known as the woman who defied drugs and gangs. The drug dealers who controlled the neighborhood began issuing threats. Years later, a former hit man told Barbara that he had been hired by a drug dealer to kill her because she was hurting business. He would sit outside the open window listening to her preach the gospel. He told her that something inside would not let him carry out the hit. Later, the man accepted Jesus.

Barbara opened Community Outreach, a church that continued to expand the impact of the gospel. She received national acclaim for the work she did fighting crime. City officials renamed the area Genesis Park, symbolic of its new beginning. When Barbara died in 2008, the church was filled to overflowing. Pastor Cameron is remembered as the Mother Teresa of Genesis Park. The once forgotten community is an example of how God can do mighty things through one ordinary woman of valor.



Today's Moment of Hope is adapted from Woman of Valor by Marilynn Chadwick. To receive a free PDF copy of this book, please visit

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