Yesterday I was devastated at the news that my best online friend Dr Bex Lewis (@drbexl) died from cancer. I had known she was very poorly and was in a hospice and also that she had Covid 19 but I still didn’t think she would die so soon. Her good friend Andrew Graystone was with her at the end and shared this wonderful tweet:
Listen to my interview about Bex
I gave an interview this morning on Premier Christian Radio and you can listen to it here:
Here are some of my favourite tweets on the wonderful hashtag #bemorebex which is trending (this is the best tribute Bex could have got!)
Here is the tribute I wrote to Bex which was published on the Premier Christianity Blog:
In her own words, Dr Bex Lewis was a ‘life explorer’. A fiercely intelligent woman with a PhD that focused on second world war propaganda posters, and most famously the Keep Calm and Carry On poster; she always held her intellect very lightly and never made anyone feel inferior. Bex had a love for learning and a love for life. She was a keen traveller spending many years as a leader on Oak Hall holidays around the world.
I first made friends with Bex on Twitter back in around 2008-9 when social media was on the rise. Both of us independently had seen the potential of social media for good in the Christian world and as our paths crossed we became Digital Disciples together through the Big Bible project – an online community Bex ran with CODEC at Durham University. It was some years before we finally met face to face but it was a seamless encounter, what we experienced of each other online was no different from how we were ‘in real life’ – a term we both disliked!
Bex was incredibly open, always willing to make herself vulnerable if it meant it might help others. She became well known for running ‘social media for the scared’ sessions for the Church of England and introduced many Christian leaders to the delights of social media for mission and ministry.
In 2014 she published her book ‘Raising Children in a Digital Age’ and appeared on the BBC’s One show and the Steve Wright show on BBC Radio 2. Bex was always positive about the internet and the good it could do whilst maintaining a healthy approach which ensured safety. She often used the metaphor of the positive effects of swimming for children but how you wouldn’t just drop a child in the deep end and make them fend for themselves.
Her openness and vulnerability came to the fore when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in 2017 which later developed into Metastatic Breast Cancer. Bex did academic research into the use of social media by people living with cancer, she wrote a moving Lent Talk which was broadcast on Radio 4 in 2019 and recorded many of her experiences, the good, the bad, and the ugly, using the hashtag #busylivingwithmets. She even coined a new hashtag for when she was in various waiting rooms for appointments for her treatment – posting pictures of her feet (and she had an amazingly eclectic collection of shoes) with #waitingroomfeet.
In writing this I have barely scratched the surface in terms of all the facets of Bex’s full life. She epitomised the words of Jesus in John 10:10 ‘I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.’ Someone responded on Twitter to the news of her death by saying “The UK church lost a really important and thoughtful voice in #DigitalCulture today”. Bex had a tremendously positive impact on me and on so many others – she was the queen of social media in the Christian world – chances are that if you’re a Christian on social media that you would have come across Bex. Her legacy will be huge, I only hope that we can all #bemorebex – that we live life to the full, share our vulnerability and put our faith in Jesus just like Bex did. Rest in peace my dear friend.
She made a difference
Bex always said that she would like her epitaph to read ‘SHE MADE A DIFFERENCE’ – she really did that with knobs on! I’ll leave you with this song which is a song about faith but also about making a difference which seems to sum up Bex’s attitude to life and her love for Jesus: