A Note from Kelly King: For more than 20 years, LifeWay Christian Resources has provided leadership events that equip women in the local church and beyond. The group of trainers Chris Adams enlisted continues to impact and influence women’s leadership in numerous ways. But these women are more than trainers; they are friends. These women are more than friends; they are a sisterhood of women who are passionately pursuing the Lord as they invest in other women. If someone asked me to define biblical community, the best picture I could paint is this group of women. So when one of them suddenly left us last week and met Jesus face-to-face, there was an immediate sense of shock and disbelief. Deb Douglas’ life was marked by compassion, spunk, and a southern drawl that drew you in. Yet, through the grief and physical absence of their friend, these women have shared some of their thoughts and tributes. I want to share them with you today as an encouragement to other women who are leading in the same way. Stay steadfast. Pursue your calling with all of your heart, and love others as Christ loved us. In short, I think that’s what Deb’s life did.
Chris Adams, Former Lead Women’s Ministry Specialist, LifeWay: I’ve composed my thoughts about my one-of-a-kind friend Deb Douglas over and over in my head, hesitating to put it in print. We were friends and colleagues for close to 20 years. I’ve watched her pour into the lives of countless women and mentor young women so that they felt like she was their forever grandmother. I’ve watched her love her sweet husband Paul, her kids, and especially her precious grands. They loved their Pearl so much.
Although her health deteriorated over the last few years, it never kept her from serving the Lord. And not once did I hear her complain or ask, “Why me? Can’t I get a break here?” As we all know, Deb laughed her way through every challenge and every circumstance. And she brought joy to us when she shared her experiences.
No one else (at least to my knowledge) has ever fallen out of a plane onto the tarmac and said, “Patch me up; I’m going to Ridgecrest to teach, and I have to make my connection.” Later she found out she had actually broken a bone! That was our Deb.
I know without a doubt that heaven is a happier place with her presence. She ran her race fully until her race ended, and no doubt, she ran into heaven with as much love and joy as she had on earth. I am SO grateful for her influence in my life. May I finish my race on earth as she did—running hard for Jesus.
Lesa Schwartz: I met Deb the first day I went to New Orleans Seminary for “Women’s Ministry” classes. What a crazy fun friend she fast became as we started doing ministry together as LifeWay trainers. We were friends, prayer partners, accountability partners, and did a lot of life together as we traveled back and forth between Longview and Shreveport to encourage one another on a monthly basis. I was not only encouraged, but challenged by Deb as a ministry leader, a wife, a mom, and a grandmother.
Dawn Criswell Stephens: Deb was a true southern belle with a courageous heart for others and Jesus!
Linda Lesniewski: I loved the way Deb modeled perseverance against all odds. Pursuing a doctorate in spite of her dyslexia and even writing blogs. She said it took her three to four times as long as someone without dyslexia would take. Even with her ongoing health challenges, she determined to continue serving the women she loved. She fought the good fight right into the arms of her Savior.
Courtney Jo Veasey: An impactful moment for me with Deb was a few years ago when she was just getting to know me. She sat me down at a table over coffee and said, “I know you do great in front of a crowd, but how are you with people just one-on-one?” And we talked a lot that day of the importance of cultivating ability for ministry in both of those areas. I’ve never forgotten that conversation and have been intentional ever since—especially as a more sanguine person—to work on my one-on-one people skills as much as when I’m more in my element with a group. Thankful for her legacy—just thankful.
Leighann Keesee McCoy: When you’re a pastor’s wife, an author, speaker, and women’s leader it’s hard to find friends you can be yourself with and friends you can share your heart with—those who don’t judge and who kind of know what it’s like to sit in your seat. I have many precious friends, but some are just the kind that get me. Deb Douglas was that kind of friend to me and so many others who are the same kind of different as me. I will miss you so much! You held me together with your encouragement and prayers when my world was falling apart. I’m sure I am one of hundreds who will miss you! Heaven just became a much more familiar place to me with you moving there.
Shirley Moses: I remember the first time I met Deb was at New Orleans Seminary. I was a newbie and didn’t have a clue of what to expect next. I sat down and this woman (Deb) turned around and said, “What is your story?” That one question led to a rich and lasting friendship. Deb could tell a story that was humorous and heart-warming. I will miss you so Deb!
Karen Finke: I met Deb at New Orleans Seminary as we began Women’s Ministry training together. My first thought was, “Who is this crazy gal?” She captured our hearts at seminary and became a life friend to me as we ministered and traveled together. No one could be an encourager like she could. No one could make you feel like you were the most important person to her at the moment she was engaging with you. She did relationships well. It thrills my heart to think of her laughing with her Savior.
Karen Alexander-Doyel: I did You Lead with Deb in Canada. We stayed a couple extra days, and she was the guide. There’s no way I could tell of all the “adventures” she led me into, but my favorite memory was at the end of a day. We were exhausted, and as we passed the indoor pool she saw the giant tube slide. She wanted to do it, but it was closed. The next morning when I met her for breakfast she was grinning ear to ear. “I played on the slide for an hour!” She actually talked them into opening it up for her after midnight! They let her use it all by herself for an hour! She loved life and lived it well!
Mary Margaret Collingsworth, LifeWay Christian Resources Project Event Coordinator: I’ll never forget the day Deb let me pour my heart out and cry on her shoulder in a hard season of life. Deb loved Jesus with everything she had and wanted everyone she encountered to know him. I’m not sure I know anyone else who made everyone around her feel like the most important person. She will be missed, but I’ll see her again!