Debbie was born in Kansas, Missouri. After training as a nurse she joined Operation Mobilisation and worked on the ship MV Logos. She and Andrew met there and married in 1987. Cross-cultural ministry was a part of what brought them together. In 1990, after an intense period of searching and struggling with God over what he wanted their lives together to look like, they made a
commitment to ‘itinerant ministry.’ Since then, in response to this calling and with their growing family, they’ve lived out of backpacks, in tents, vehicles and sometimes in houses all over the world for the sake of the Gospel. Andrew and Debbie have five children, from 25 to 14 years old.
They became involved assisting in the planting of new churches in both USA and Europe, especially among the emerging generation; these are sometimes known as ‘fresh expressions’ of church. Woven into this work was an itinerant ministry that saw them connecting with people on the margins of society, especially nomadic, ‘new age,’ pagan and seeker communities. They sought to provide a holistic, contextual and appealing Christian witness to these communities. They did this by journeying with these groups as they moved from one festival to another, and sharing their family life with them. This was largely possible because, for much of their married life, they have lived and travelled in a motorhome or truck. In fact, many of those who have shared life with Andrew, Debbie and their family have lived and travelled with them in their truck.
During 2015, as the refugee migration hit Europe, they travelled with and ministered to some of the refugees in various places in Europe. Along with their two youngest daughters, they also participated in ‘Rainbow Gatherings’ in Eastern Europe and Egypt and travelled with small groups of people they had met during those. Rainbow Gatherings are intentional gatherings of all kinds of people who come together for a month somewhere in nature to cook together, sing around the fires, make workshops, share experiences and generally come together as a ‘family.’
In June this year Debbie was in Ethiopia attending the Rainbow Gathering there and travelling with a small group. It was there, as Debbie was celebrating life and sharing Jesus with this group of young people, that she fell ill and passed away so quickly and unexpectedly.
Debbie’s deepest desire was to share God and his love with all he brought along her path. She was a colourful, fragrant flower; her warm, vibrant personality drew many to want to share life with her and Andrew and their family.
We will perhaps never understand why such a bright light was taken from this world so suddenly, and there is inevitably darkness, loss and grief where she is no longer. However the colour, hope and reflections of God that she brought to life carry on in all those who knew her.