on Monday, September 25, 2017

From the moment I met her, I knew that Deb Douglas was more than a blonde with a big smile! She was passionately called to serve the Lord and minister to women. She loved life and her family and definitely lived life “like an Alabama linebacker.” Her husband, two children, and three grandchildren were her pride and joy. On Friday, September 15, 2017, Deb met the Lord she loved deeply face-to-face. While her unexpected death has saddened her family, friends, and the NOBTS community, her life will radiate the love of Jesus through us and the many lives she touched for Him. Please join us in praying for the Douglas family in the loss of their precious Pearl. To continue training women in the pursuit of God’s call, prayerfully consider a gift to the NOBTS Women’s Ministry Scholarship Fund, 3939 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70126.  

 -- Dr. Rhonda Kelley

“More Than a Blonde with a Big Smile!”

By Deb Douglas

In 1997, Dr. Rhonda Kelley stood on the platform at the LifeWay Women’s Ministry Forum in Nashville describing a new program for women who felt called to seminary. I was mesmerized. How did she know what God had been prompting me to do?

I had told God that I could not go to seminary because I was a woman, a woman who grew up during the days when a woman only served as a “church secretary” or on the African mission field. But this news was what God had brought me to Nashville to hear! As the session ended, I was like an Alabama linebacker racing to Dr. Rhonda to find out more. She handed me a purple folder, and I was hooked, launched into the fulfillment of a very specific call God had given me, “Get equipped!”

What began at the certificate level led into a craving to know more and gave me the courage to begin the masters’ program.  As a dyslexic person, married with two children, living nine hours away from the campus, it seemed impossible. Dr. Jeanine Bozeman gave me wise counsel: “Where will you be if you do not go to seminary? You’ll be four years older and out of God’s plan for your life.” With the encouragement of a group of professors, I began the masters’ program.

Seminary at NOBTS was more than what I expected. I was challenged. I was given opportunities to gain practical experience as I learned, and God did a work in me. It was as if He took me apart and began rebuilding me into the servant He had crafted me to be. It was a difficult experience at times, and at others it was energizing to see how God was at work through the faculty and staff of NOBTS. The encouragement of others investing in me and what God had called me to do kept me going. I felt a sense of community that has continued to be a tremendous part of my life.

As I walked off the graduation stage in 2001 as the first woman to earn a Masters of Art in Christian Education with a Concentration in Women’s Ministry, Dr. Joe Sherrer encouraged me: “Now, you are ready for the doctoral program!” Dr. Rhonda Kelley was there for a congratulatory hug, and Dr. Allen Jackson shook my hand saying: “You’ve already been doing doctoral level work. When are you starting?” As I sat in the beautiful Leavell Chapel filled with the legacy of so many before me, the challenge continued! I was a part of the legacy of NOBTS, a part of taking the stories of all the graduates before me into the future, investing into the lives of future students.

The seminars in the doctoral program were used by God to show me specifically how He had crafted me to serve. I was introduced to new avenues of service and given the opportunities to serve in local ministries.  The faculty included my teenage daughter into these opportunities, and by doing so, they instilled in her a passion for serving others.

The doctoral work taught me I could take on challenges I thought beyond my capabilities.  God taught me endurance as I struggled to master the writing style required for the project report.  A few years later, I graduated with my doctorate, a dyslexic woman who was told she would never read and never amount to anything but a blonde with a big smile. God had a plan!

My years at NOBTS taught me how God had crafted me to serve. It showed me strengths and weaknesses as well as how to improve. With the support of the faculty and staff, I was able to fulfill God’s call for me to become equipped. Now, I travel as a LifeWay Women’s Trainer, teaching others how to minister to women. I write for several publications, work with women in the sex industry, and serve as Director of Biblical Counseling at First Bossier, Bossier City, LA.  I am thankful that the NOBTS faculty saw me as a woman eager to become equipped to serve rather than impossibility!