Summer Reading: Heart of a Lioness


Summer Reading: Heart of a Lioness

When I was back in Australia a few months ago I picked up a book called Heart of a Lioness. This is an incredible story of an Australian woman named Irene Gleeson. Born to an unwed mother and a father who left at her birth, this Aussie was born into a broken world. As a young girl growing up in Sydney, family life was tumultuous with an alcoholic step-father, followed by another abusive one. With the death of her mother from cancer when she was sixteen years old, and unable to live safely at home, Irene left school and moved into a girls’ hostel. Her brothers and sisters stayed with relatives until they were finally put in foster care.

By the age of seventeen, Irene had become pregnant. She married the father of her child, and they would have four children over the next few years, but with her own restless ache for a father-figure, she abandoned her children and husband for an older man. Family strife did not let up, and struggles with depression, self-doubt, and suicidal thoughts haunted her. Hoping to find answers for her aching and restless soul, she traveled to the Himalayas to pursue various forms of eastern spirituality. Finding no answers, she returned to Sydney, despondent and without hope.

The ache of her soul found no relief—until she met Jesus.  

The journey God takes her on over the next twenty-five years is an incredible story of courage, perseverance, and self-sacrifice, which will result in hope and life for thousands of orphans in Uganda. 


Irene went to be with the Lord in 2013. Over 10,000 people attended her funeral in Uganda, and today the non-profit organization she started feeds and provides education to over 9,000 children every day. Hers was a remarkable journey—because we serve a remarkable God.

I’d encourage you to read her memoir, and I hope you will be inspired like I was!

Dr. Carol Kaminski

Image Credit: Irene Gleason Foundation