Q What life experiences did you have that helped you prepare to go overseas?
Rick: Local church medical outreach to people in Juarez, Mexico.
Debbie: I don’t know of anything particularly, I was the least likely candidate that I knew back then. Mine was a total surprise. Family didn’t travel, all my relatives live in the same place, I never knew a missionary and never planned to be one. Just shows you what God can do.
Q How would you describe your first year on the mission field?
Rick: Wonderful and stressful.
Debbie: Challenging, many adjustments, exciting, hard and yet brought me closer to the Lord, increased my faith, and I hung on because of my call from God to be there.
Q What surprised you the most once you began your work? What did you wish you knew beforehand?
Rick: That people’s needs are basically the same all over the world.
Debbie: I didn’t leave my house for the first few months, except to go to market, trying to do everything required to put food on the table, home school, and take care of the kids and house. I was not going to be able to juggle everything; if I was going to have a ministry outside the home at all, I was going to need a Nigerian friend who needed work to help me. But I think that was a lesson I had to learn on my own.
Q What has been the most challenging aspect to your work?
Rick: Knowing how to respond to people who ask for help of various types.
Debbie: Dealing with the beggars, and their stories at the front door. Trying to discern who was telling the truth, and who the Lord wanted us to help, because we certainly did not have the resources to help all.
Q What are some of the ways you have been affirmed in following God’s leading?
Rick: The Spirit’s assurance in my heart.
Debbie: We have seen people decide to follow Jesus, we have seen patients be healed when our resources were limited and God took over, when our children took part in ministry and started ministries of their own, when our family became more accepting.
Q What is something that would surprise others about mission work or the people you are called to serve?
Rick: People with few material possessions can be generally happy, yet they still need Christ.
Debbie: It isn’t always glorious, you aren’t famous, and you are just an ordinary person who God happens to call overseas to work. Sometimes the people we are called to serve wonder why we are there.
Q What advice would you give to those considering overseas missions?
Rick: Know that God is trustworthy in His leadership.
Debbie: Pray much, seek the face of God and make sure He is calling you and you are not just seeking an overseas adventure. Because the adventure wears off but the call of God doesn’t.
Q How can people pray for you?
Rick: That I will exalt Jesus in serving the people with whom He puts me in contact.
Debbie: That I stay focused on what God is doing, keep my relationship with the Lord Jesus fresh every day so that I am not side-tracked and begin doing my own thing instead of His thing.