Friday, March 24, 2006

My friend Debbie

Over the years, I've met some incredible people and Debbie Evans is certainly at the top of my list.
She's funny, she loves Jesus, she loves people.
And she has AIDs.
When we lived in California, Debbie used to hang out with our family a lot. Sometimes she'd spend the night with us or even spend the weekend. My daughters never thought twice about giving up their bedroom to someone with a deadly disease--they just loved Debbie and were always happy to have her around.
Sometimes Debbie felt pretty good, but there were other visits when she was very sick. After one rough night, Debbie asked if we could go to the river and just sit there for a while. I wasn't even sure she had enough strength to get into our van, but she made it and curled up in the back seat while I drove as carefully as I could to the river.
It's a moment in time I'll never forget. I had some worship music playing, Debbie was trying not to get sick as I navigated the dirt road that wound down to the water. I was beginning to think this outing wasn't such a great idea when the Presence of the Lord filled that dusty old van.
I nearly had to pull over--the experience was so intense! The main thing I was aware of, however, was how very much Jesus loved Debbie. How precious this fragile, dying woman was in His sight. I felt like I was on holy ground.
Debbie had revived a bit by the time we reached the river. We walked along the beach and she picked out a few colorful pebbles to add to her collection back home. Then we sat on a rock and watched the river rush by and listened to the birds chatter. Although she was still sick and weak, Debbie only radiated God's peace and joy.
Even though she has been hospitalized twice in the past month for various complications of her disease, Debbie isn't afraid to die. She called me several months ago, after yet another brush with death, to tell me she loved me. "I might not have tomorrow," she said, "so I want you to hear my voice today telling you how much I love and appreciate you and your family." While she talked to me, I once again felt the Lord's presence, and His great love for Debbie. I finished that conversation with her humbled and on my knees.
I wish you all could experience Debbie. She's never met a stranger, and loves to tell people about Jesus. When she is able, she speaks to churches, schools, and other venues about His amazing grace.
She sent me her testimony recently, and I've asked her permission to post it on my blog. So hopefully you will soon read her story and be blessed by her life as I have.
To be continued . . .