Claim:   Prayers are requested for Joe William Sheffield, a little boy in Georgia who has cancer.

Status:   Was true; now outdated.

Example:   [Collected on the Internet, 2004]

The prayer request is for a little boy in Tifton……

The Prayer is for Joe William Sheffield (he is 9-years old)—his mother is a teacher in the school system in Tifton, Georgia. They attend First Baptist Church in Tifton. He has been diagnosed with cancer and began his Chemo on Christmas Eve.

First Baptist has a program called the Prayer Beeper. When you pray for this child, call this toll free number 1-877-546-0248. Listen to the recording and input number 733#.

What happens is this child wears the beeper and every time it vibrates he knows somewhere someone is lifting him up in prayer! What a wonderful ministry. I just did this myself—what an awesome blessing
for this little boy every time he gets a buzz…and what a blessing for us to know that we are showing him God’s love in such a quick way.

Please take a minute out of your day to say a prayer for Joe William…I am sure it means a lot to him and helps keep his spirits up every time he gets a “beep”.

Please pass this along to all of your friends so Joe will know that even people that don’t know him still care enough to say a prayer for him.

Origins:   This request for prayers on behalf of a cancer-stricken child was on the up-and-up — there is such a little boy, and his situation is as described. Moreover, the “prayer beeper” was also for real; we tested it, and it worked as advertised.

However, the prayer beeper is no longer active. According to the diary entries made by his family on the church’s web site, the boy has gotten a great deal better, so they have decided to turn off the pager. According to an entry dated 21 July 2004, but which refers to a number of events in August 2004 in the past tense:

We have turned in the pager. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the prayers and pages. This meant so much to our family. The prayer pager ministry touched so many people around the U.S. and the world. There have been other cancer patients who have received a prayer pager in other parts of the US, thanks to First Baptist. I am so glad our church provided this ministry for us. Thanks again for all that you did for my family during the past 8 months. God Bless YOU.

While it was in operation (which was about eight months, by our counting), to let Joe William know folks were praying for him, they would call 1-877-546-0248 (a toll-free number). At the beep after the message, they would dial 733, which was a special code meaning “Praying for you.” (The digits “733” represented the number of letters in each


As to why prayers were needed, this 10-year-old boy was diagnosed on 18 December 2003 with anaplastic large cell lymphoma, an uncommon form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma that can occur at any time throughout a lifespan but usually strikes children and young adults.

As of this writing, Joe William has weathered six rounds of chemotherapy. Judging from his family’s reports of his condition (which can be found as diary entries in a special section of the Tifton First Baptist Church’s web site), the battle against his cancer is going very well, and the lad is scheduled to have his first follow-up cat scan on 29 September 2004.

The boy lost his hair to the chemo treatments he had to undergo, but in a show of support in February 2004, four men at his school let him shave their heads. They had promised Joe William that if he lost his hair to chemotherapy, they’d lose theirs. According to The Tifton Gazette, the tonsuring of the educators was shown during the 19 February morning broadcast of WMW News.

Others of Joe William’s acquaintance have also out of solidarity with the stricken boy gone the way of the razor, as the many photos of the boy and his family and friends show.

Barbara “aren’t you glad to hear you’re just being asked to make a phone call?” Mikkelson

Last updated:   28 October 2007


  Sources Sources:

    Thompson, Angie.   “Educators Shave Heads to Support Student.”

    The Tifton Gazette.   19 February 2004.