Tuesday, March 06, 2007

In Memoriam: "Anchor Deep, say a prayer & hang on!"

Back in 1992, Shari & I went to Nashville, TN, where I became the minister of youth at Dalewood Baptist Church. I was following in the footsteps of Debbie Harned, a tremendous youth minister upon whose work in leadership development & discipleship of kids I built the majority of my ministry at Dalewood.

Debbie passed away yesterday from cancer. (Thank you to Nashville Uproar for the blog comment that let me know what was going on.) My prayers & thoughts are with her husband, Kelly, and her son, Alan.

I've written about Debbie before (in the post
How in the Heck Did I Get Here, Part II: Dalewood Baptist) but I wanted to make sure some other memories got set down before I lost them.
  • Debbie was underpaid and underappreciated at Dalewood - not least of which because she was a woman. I said it above and I mean it - the survival of my youth ministry in the dark days that followed our pastor's adulterous affair were directly affected by the high quality of work she did in creating a volunteer staff who loved Jesus & loved kids.
  • Debbie was kind & thoughtful with me... taking time to meet with me and answer MOST of my questions when I came on staff at Dalewood. (She was careful not to poison the well with current staff members, even though she & I ended up having difficulty with the same person.) Instead of scaring me away from kids, she encouraged me to develop my own relationships with them - owning that someone else might be better at reaching them than her.
  • Debbie & I saw each other off & on through our work at Lifeway for Youth Discipleship Training. (For the non-SBCer's in the audience, Lifeway is the publishing house affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention.) She was always gracious & funny.
  • I also appreciated the ministry of encouragement she started, Anchor Deep Ministries. Her letters & prayers were always welcome.
  • Finally, as I was writing this I realized that 2 of the 7 folks that helped start the church @ hickory hollow were "graduates" of her youth ministry - Michelle & Allen were & are credits to Debbie's willingness to live out Jesus.

I lost contact with Debbie when I started church planting... so it's probably been 10 years since we've talked. I do look forward to seeing her again, though - cuz our anchors are set against the same Rock.


Anonymous said...

Mark, thank you so much for posting this. I stumbled across this today when I was trying to find a way to contact you to let you know she had passed.

I owe so much of who I am as a person to Debbie Harned. What a great woman of God. I got to see her a few weeks ago in the hospital. She still had that wonderful smile on her face and was in very good spirits. She will definitely be missed.

Amy said...

Thanks for posting this Mark. I don't know if you remember, but I worked with Debbie at the Alcohol and Drug Counsel (Youth Alive and Free Program) She was the counselor at Hume Fogg. She was a great person and counselor.

Anonymous said...

I was one of Debbie & Kelly's kids back in the 1980s. There's so much I could say but my words aren't nearly eloquent enough. I have so many memories...

I've written and erased so many things here. I just can't describe what she meant to me. To say she was a positive influence doesn't even begin to cover it.

I'm so happy that I was able to talk with her before she left to be with the Lord. I will miss knowing she's there, but like you, I know I will see her again.

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for women like Debbie Harned. Thank you for giving her to this world to spread your word, and thank you for letting us know that we may see her again in your paradise.