At some point in their life everyone faces a challenge that will either break them, or push them towards success.
Reverend Dr Deborah Evans, of First Church of God Sound View, has had three such moments.
The first came when she fell pregnant as a teenager.
“I believe the story of my life shows that while struggle is a part of life, it’s how we handle it that counts,” the 64-year-old said.
“We either get stuck, or use it as fuel to go forward. I believe you have to get to a point where you believe in yourself and when that happens and you go through something hard, you know this is not here to stay. It will pass. What you go through you can use to help someone else.”
It’s the kind of wisdom she shares in Nuggets of Inspiration. The book includes her testimony and tributes to her husband Kuhn and their sons, Kuhn Jr, Deforest and Kelljon, and other important figures in her life. There are also some of her favourite lessons learnt by reading God’s word over three decades.
“I pray that people will be inspired by the book and can go on to inspire others,” Dr Evans said.
“By embracing the nuggets, practising them and helping someone else going through something, I’m hoping this will impact people’s lives. I’ve been told by someone who bought an early copy that it’s easy reading, but the nuggets provide practical ways they can affect positive change in their lives.”
She didn’t know the Lord when she gave birth to her son Kuhn Jr, at 17.
“That situation caused me to realise how important life is and my son became my world,” she said.
“It was a struggle for me because being young, I hadn’t finished high school. But I always had a desire to better myself and I became one of the first students at Teucer House, where Ms Olga Lawrence [Scott] had a school for pregnant teens. Ms Lawrence inspired me that I could achieve anything and, thanks to God’s grace, I have.
“I always say I’ve been through the good, bad and ugly because I’m not perfect, but I just continue to try to be all that God wants me to be.”
She gave her life over to Christ on April 12, 1981, after being invited to FCOG Angle Street by a co-worker.
She went that first Sunday and kept returning for weekly services.
“By the third Sunday I had given my heart to the Lord,” she said. “I don’t remember what Bishop [Vernon] Lambe preached, but giving my heart to the Lord caused me to find a deeper meaning to life and a purpose for living. The Lord helped me to see I have something to contribute to benefit others, to help others become all that God has called them to be.”
Not long after, she started making regular lunchtime visits to the Cathedral of the Most Holy Trinity, to pray. It was during one of these sessions that God dropped a verse from Isaiah 61 into her spirit.
“God gave me the scripture and I studied it and just felt like full-time ministry was what He was calling me into,” she said.
“I didn’t tell anyone, but then I went to a conference overseas three or four days after. A woman came up to me and felt led to tell me I was called to do what it says in Isaiah 61 — proclaim the good news, free the captives and comfort those who mourn. I was shocked because at that point no one was supposed to know.”
She went on to make history. In the 1980s she became the first woman to sit on FCOG’s board of elders and in her 50th year, Dr Evans fulfilled a promise to herself by completing her degree.
In 2007, she became the first female pastoral assistant to Bishop Lambe. Three years later, she became the church’s first female pastor at its Somerset location, a position she continues to hold.
Since 2005, she has held a series of events here and overseas under the umbrella of DRE Ministries.
The aim is to help motivate women of all ages to better understand their divine calling. Last month she accompanied a group of 40 to Barbados for a conference she hosted. There, she discussed how women’s current situations could help prepare them for their God-ordained positions.
“I saw a woman in the streets of Bridgetown, Barbados who had attended the event and she asked me when the next one would be,” Dr Evans said. “Another woman said the event opened her heart to receive what God wanted for her. She believes she found her purpose, that stuck out for me and is why I do what I do.”
• To buy Nuggets of Inspiration: firstname.lastname@example.org or 505-8137. Books cost $30 softback or $35 for a hard copy. Learn more on Facebook: DRE Ministry.