(RNS) — The husband of Christian writer Shannon Dingle died in a beach accident on the North Carolina shores last week.
Lee Dingle, 37, was playing with his children on Oak Island when a wave hit him so hard he crashed on the sand, apparently breaking his neck.
Dingle was the husband of Shannon Hope Dingle, a blogger and activist who has written about sexual abuse, the #Churchtoo movement and disability rights.
“My partner, my love, and my home died Friday, July 19, after a freak accident,” she posted to her blog Monday. I wasn’t supposed to be saying goodbye at 37. I don’t know how to be a grown up without him, but I’ll learn. I just wish I didn’t have to.”
The couple met in their late teens and went on to raise six children, four of whom were adopted, including a daughter, Zoe, who has cerebral palsy. Her adoption seven years ago from Taiwan was documented by the Archibald Project, which uses stories to educate people about orphaned and vulnerable children.
“We are grieved and saddened to share the tragic passing of a beautiful man and father,” the Archibald Project posted to Facebook.
The couple adopted three other children, siblings, from Uganda.
Lee Dingle was the president of Atlas Engineering in Raleigh, North Carolina, a company that assesses older or damaged buildings and designs repairs and upgrades. He earned an undergraduate degree in civil engineering from North Carolina State University in 2004 and also worked as a collapse rescue engineer with N.C. Emergency Management.
His wife, Shannon, has written moving pieces about abuse for numerous publications. After Alabama banned abortion for victims of rape, she wrote an opinion piece for USA Today, revealing that she had been raped by her father and became pregnant at age 12.
She also wrote for RNS about being sexually assaulted by a 24-year-old church leader when she was 16, and about a church culture that allows abuse to continue.
In other pieces, she wrote about a church pastor who didn’t act when she told him she was abused at home. She also wrote about being told by church leaders it was her responsibility to stay in contact with her abusers, “because they didn’t know God and I was the only way they ever would.”
Despite her abuse, she and her family continued to attend church.
“It would make sense for me to have left long ago. But I didn’t, and I haven’t. Why? More than hurt, I have found hope and healing in the church too,” she wrote. “Everything about my faith has been messy, but Jesus had shown up in the mess even when the church hasn’t.”
A GoFundMe campaign to help pay for Lee Dingle’s funeral expenses raised nearly $200,000 as of Monday afternoon.
On social media there has been an outpouring of support for the Dingle family, especially from other Christian writers:
An online social media vigil was expected to take place between 7 and 9 p.m. Monday:
With @ShannonDingle’s blessing, we are encouraging people to gather on social media tonight between 7-9pm Central, to light a candle, and tweet a prayer or word of encouragement for the Dingle family. Shannon asked that we all use the hashtag #DinglePartyof7. pic.twitter.com/9wn7efiodF
— Rise (@NowSheRises) July 21, 2019