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Grieving for a man used mightily by God

Uploaded: Apr 5, 2017
Shepherd’s Gate lost its long-time leader Tuesday morning when CEO Steve McRee suddenly died when his heart failed. He was 65.
Steve was a dear friend—one of my A-list friends that I have walked beside for 20 years. That included service on the Shepherd’s Gate board and lots of time together since he suffered a catastrophic fall on Dec. 23, 2013. He was initially paralyzed, but after his wife, Carla, prayed in the emergency room, he could move his arms.
He made a slow and steady recovery, surprising the medical folks with how far he had come. During the last three years, he continued to lead the ministry. When we met a couple of weeks ago, he shared plans for expanding the ministry by serving rescued victims of sex trafficking.
He was determined to use the golf ball that had arrived in the mail when he arrived home in January 2014 after weeks in the hospital. I was ready to join him on that tee.
Surprisingly, after a hospitalization for an infection that seemed under control, God took him home. It was shockingly quick, but we can rejoice knowing that he’s running, dancing and celebrating with Jesus in Heaven.
As another dear friend said, anytime you were around Steve, you knew about Jesus.
Steve and Carla ran Shepherd’s Gate for more than 20 years and God used them to take the ministry to new levels. When they arrived, the ministry was a 30-day emergency shelter in the old home on Portola Avenue in Livermore where Alice Ann Cantelow founded the shelter for women and their children. Steve told the story many times about how he had thought he would never move to California or run a women’s shelter—he learned as have I—never say never to God.
When he arrived, the board had its eye on a property across the street. Over the next few years, God opened the doors so the residence hall and the office were built. HomeAid, which earlier had turned Shepherd’s Gate away, then stepped up and built the second residence hall and the cottages for women who were ready to leave the program. The organization, which is the charitable arm of the the homebuilders association, stepped up a final time and completed the long-delayed Life Center last year.
In addition, another builder, Signature Homes, approached Steve about building a turn-key shelter in Brentwood instead of contributing to an affordable housing fund. Steve told them yes, if there was no government money involved. Signature had planned to tap some government funds, but followed Steve’s request. Shepherd’s Gate never has taken government money.
Steve and God had a straight forward agreement. Steve was to minister to the people that God sent to him and God would take care of the financial resources. Over the 20 years, there were many times when the financial situation appeared dire and then a check or checks would show up in the mail to cover the gap.
I knew Steve well enough that he told me that the few times he tried to raise funds on his own—even with good friends of the ministry—he was turned down every time. So, he relied on his Heavenly Father who took good, good care of the ministry and the more than 10,000 women and children who have been served over the last 30 years.
We met the first time when he came to my newspaper office seeking a sponsorship for the golf tournament. We spent two hours plus talking about God and life and then, as he was about to leave, we got around to golf. That was the start of a dear friendship.
Through Steve and Shepherd’s Gate, I was introduced to the charismatic branch of Christianity. I have seen miracles and been privileged to be used in a few. God’s anointing on Shepherd’s Gate is so strong that miracles are common on the campus—broken limbs have been healed and cancer has vanished.
God used Shepherd’s Gate, Steve and the people he connected me with, to train me for leadership with Heart for Africa and other faith-based non-profits. Today, there are more than 150 children living on Project Canaan in Swaziland because of what God taught me through Shepherd’s Gate and Steve’s brothers and sisters in Christ.
His legacy is being lived out daily by the women and children God used Shepherd’s Gate to change during his tenure. He did, as it reads at the Livermore campus, bring glory to God.

A memorial service to celebrate Steve's life is set for 4 p.m., Friday, April 21 at Community Presbyterian Church, 222 El Pintado, Danville. Carla prefers contributions in his memory to Shepherd's Gate.
Local Journalism.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 5, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Rest In Peace.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 5, 2017 at 8:16 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Thank you Tim for sharing.

My wife's father past away Sunday March 28, 2017.
My older brother past away Sunday March 28, 2017.
Two family members same day was tremendous loss.
They are resting now forever.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 6, 2017 at 6:52 am

Your comments were perfect, as was your analysis of God's plan for all of us. I am sorry for your loss. I can tell you are grieving, but remember God never gives us more than we can handle. God bless you, and your friend who is now in heaven.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Apr 6, 2017 at 10:05 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

He sounded like a good man.


Posted by Sue, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 7, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Steve was an amazing friend and and a true servant of our Lord. Thank you for this beautiful, spot-on tribute so that others who never met him can know of his giving, caring heart and hopefully continuing, life-changing legacy.

Posted by Dave, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 7, 2017 at 5:03 pm

I didn't know Steve; but, I supported his work at Shepard's Gate.

Sometimes we wonder why a person who is doing so much good on this Earth is taken before their time. Perhaps it is God's way of saying that they have finished their work here and it is time for others to step up to fill the void.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Apr 8, 2017 at 7:45 am

I used to donate to Shepard's Gate through my workplace's paycheck deduction charity-giving program because it seemed like a good place for helping those in need - until the time I read a Shepard's Gate newsletter which left me cold and caused me to discontinue making donations to it. The newsletter contained a story which described a women who was accepted into the shelter but was told that she would have to leave her dog because pets were not permitted. The story described how she had to tearfully say goodbye to her long-time companion and friend in order to enter the shelter. I'm sure that the person or people who wrote the article meant it to come across to readers in a different way, but to me it said that while Shepard's Gate may be willing to take care of the physical bodies of those in need, it cared much less about the hearts of those same people. If Shepard's Gate had asked for additional donations in order to enable shelter-seekers to keep their pets I would have gladly given more to them. In fact, I would have been willing to give much, much more to Shepard's Gate to enable that, and I'll bet that many others would have been willing to donate more, too.

The article left me with a very bad image of Shepard's Gate. Whenever I hear the name Shepard's Gate, I still wonder whatever happened of that poor woman and that poor dog and whether they were able to happily reunite.

Posted by American, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 9, 2017 at 9:25 am

"Sam": This blog was a loving tribute by Tim to a very close friend of his who died, who created a Christian charity that helped so many people who desperately needed assistance. Of course, you being a contrarian, thought it was an appropriate time to bad mouth this fantastic charity, saying you had a "very bad image" of it.

No charity can be all things to all people. As Mother Teresa said," In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love". Shephards Gate truly accomplished small things with great love, taking care of those who needed help the most. In the ideal world, a charity could allow residents to bring with their dogs and cats, and take care of them as well as the residents, but we do not live in an ideal world. Liability concerns regarding dog bites, residents having allergies to dogs, the additional cost of allowing pets, would endanger closing this great charity. I am a great animal lover, am active in Golden Retriever Rescue programs, and appreciate how important pets are to people. However, as a realist, I also recognize that allowing residents to bring their pets with to Shephard's Gate could be a problem.

But, "Sam", the answer is not to bad mouth this great charity, and stop donating any money at all because they could not be all things to all people. Perhaps you could volunteer your time and contact Shephard's Gate, and work as a dog or cat volunteer, trying to place residents pets with good, loving, close by foster families? But, no, it is much easier to fire off a scathing attack on this charity, encourage people not to donate money to it, as watch as funding dries up and people are forced on the street.

Today is Palm Sunday. I know Tim's friend is in Heaven, and I hope that people continue to donate to this great charity that truly makes a difference, in doing God's work.

Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill,
on Apr 9, 2017 at 12:04 pm


I stopped reading your post after your first paragraph because you went completely off the rails. I'm not some fly-by "bad mouther" of this charity. Probably unlike you, I have been a CONTRIBUTOR to this charity of for many hundreds of dollars. And so, yes, I do have a voice here in saying what I do like or do not like about this charity's practices.

My criticism was strong and harsh but it was still done in the spirit of constructive criticism. I wrote that I would have been willing to contribute much more to the charity if this charity had been willing to explore ways for shelter-seekers to keep their pets. And even now I would still be willing to start donating again to Shepard's Gate if they did find some way for people to keep their pets in the shelter.

If you support the work of Shepard's Gate then I suggest that your time would be better spent in writing out a big donation check to them so that they can continue their work than trying to heap criticism on a past donor offering constructive criticism who thinks that you're a big-mouth hypocrite who is all talk but no action.

Posted by Susie, a resident of Country Fair,
on Apr 9, 2017 at 5:21 pm

Our community has lost much loved family members/teacher/advocate. May the memory of their lives inspire us to be more loving and giving. And our prayers for those who are grieving their loss.

Posted by Doug Miller, a resident of Country Fair,
on Apr 11, 2017 at 7:11 am

Doug Miller is a registered user.

Well done Tim. The world has lost a great person.

Posted by cbonner, a resident of Alisal Elementary School,
on Apr 11, 2017 at 11:32 am

cbonner is a registered user.

Salt of the Earth.

Thanks for this article.

Posted by ShepherdsGate, a resident of Livermore,
on Apr 11, 2017 at 3:00 pm

ShepherdsGate is a registered user.

Thank you Tim for writing this beautiful blog about Steve. We appreciate all the kind comments that have been left to honor Steve and Shepherd's Gate.

We would like to take a moment to respond to Sam's comment. Although we find pets to be a comfort to some, we are a community living environment where we have other women and many children that are afraid of or even allergic to dogs/cats. Because we have to create a safe environment for all of our residents, we have to put some guidelines into practice that are a hardship for a few. We encourage women coming in that have pets to get foster care for their pet or arrange for someone to take care of them. At that point, it is up to that potential resident to make the choice that is best for them and their pet.

We assure you that there are many amazing things happening at Shepherd's Gate and appreciate the many donors and supporters that we have. We would love to discuss this further with you, if you would like. Please feel free to contact Stephanie Fischer at Thank you!

Posted by cbonner, a resident of Alisal Elementary School,
on Apr 11, 2017 at 4:05 pm

cbonner is a registered user.

Dear ShepherdsGate poster

Thank you for the sincere, thoughtful, and classy response to what most of us would consider an ill-advised, immature, and not-thought-out comment by a different poster.

Best regards to you and yours


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