Have you ever prayed for something and not received an answer right away? Debbie experienced a long period of praying without ceasing and forty years later the answer finally arrived.
Debbie was raised in a loving home with parents who were believers. However, she felt the weight of the world on her shoulders at a very young age. Her father worked long hours away from the home. Her mother was very ill, and she had three younger brothers to help take care of. She was responsible for being a caregiver and did not have time to just be a kid herself. Debbie felt alone and afraid.
At nine years old, Debbie was invited to spend a Friday night at her grandmother’s house. This was a huge relief and a welcomed break from the burdens of taking care of her siblings. Her grandmother was an amazing cook and Debbie knew she would let her choose what she wanted for dinner. She made her the best pinto beans and cornbread and that alone enticed her to stay the night. Saturday morning, she was asked if she wanted to spend another night. Debbie was reluctant to say yes because this meant she would have to go to church on Sunday morning, but getting to choose what she wanted to have for dinner made it easier for her to agree to stay another night. That evening she was told to go get cleaned up as they were going to church for a Saturday special service. Debbie thought, “Church tonight AND tomorrow?” Soon after, they were sitting in a church pew listening to a male quartet. Debbie confessed, “I don’t remember the name of the group; but I still know the words to the song that moved me.” She remembers hearing, “Don’t try to tell me that God is dead. I just talked to Him this morning. Don’t try to tell me He’s not alive, He lives within my heart. His Word is always by my side. He brightens up the way. Don’t try to tell me God is dead. I just talked to Him today.” Debbie said those words moved her so much that she walked down the center aisle and accepted Jesus. She knew she would never be alone again. Just knowing Jesus was with her helped her get through the tough times at home.
Debbie met her husband Jeff in college. She confided that being so young, she simply asked if Jeff was a believer and his positive response was acceptable to her. She did not dig deeper to find out details of Jeff’s walk with Christ. When she realized her husband was not a fully devoted follower of Christ, she began to pray daily for him. After moving to Arizona where they did not know anyone, Debbie once again began to feel alone. She knew her husband believed in God, but did not have an interest in attending church. At this point in her life, she found herself feeling like she was not enough and in a deep pit with no ladder to get out. She heard God say to her, “You are enough.” Debbie made a commitment to start attending a church in Tempe so their two children would grow up knowing the same Jesus that she knew. Debbie met several women at this church who helped her get connected there and later those same women became her mentors.
Meanwhile, Debbie’s marriage was struggling and her husband confessed that he did not want to stay living in their home. Though she prayed for Jeff daily, she felt it was not enough. She found a verse, 2 Chronicles 1:7 “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” and realized then that she was not praying specifically enough for Jeff. Debbie started praying prayers that were more specific for her husband and asked God to save her husband and their marriage. Once again, Debbie knew she was not alone, as she knew God was with her and had blessed her with a great group of women for support. The morning Jeff was set to move out of their home, he told her that he just could not do it. They worked on many trust issues and their marriage eventually pulled through.
Two years ago, they moved to Gilbert and started attending Compass. They heard the invitation to join a Rooted group and Debbie was immediately ready to sign up. In the car, she took a deep breath and asked Jeff if he had any interest to sign up with her knowing that when she had asked in the past to attend classes with her he would say, “No.” But he agreed to go this time, which completely surprised her. That first night when they described how the group would work, everyone could tell that Jeff did not want to be there but he kept attending. He even attended one night when Debbie could not make it. There was a change in Jeff that Debbie had not witnessed in the past. After week five of Rooted, Jeff secretly made the decision to be baptized. He had not told Debbie, but he had confided in both of their children and their Rooted facilitator, Don. Decision Weekend, Pastor Brian Jobe called all those who wanted to be baptized to come forward. Debbie said, “I looked down and saw that Jeff did not have his shoes on and he was handing me his keys and his wallet.” Jeff took one look at Debbie and her heart was full of joy for her husband. Debbie knew that after praying for her husband for forty years, her very specific prayers had finally been answered. Don took Debbie up to the baptism area to watch this spectacular event up close. She admitted, “The closest I have ever felt to Jesus was when I watched Jeff accept Christ as his Savior from the side of that pool. The look on his face as he came up out of the water was a look of peace that I had not seen on his face in forty years!” Jeff admits, “During Rooted, we had discussions that opened my eyes to God. I’m grateful for Debbie sticking it out all those years praying for me, it was a life changing ordeal.”