Missions is for Everyone
Her influence of involving others in missions, however, is not limited to the girls. “It’s been said that it’s not safe to sit next to me in choir,” Debby mused. “Several choir members who sit beside or in front of me have recently participated in various missions trips for the first time and have plans to go again soon.”
Her secret? Debby said to encourage others to get involved in missions, she will simply share about an upcoming missions trip. “I tell them how exciting it’s going to be,” she said, “and that I have seen this or that quality in them and how they could use their gift to effectively minister on this trip.”
Debby credits WMU as being a key influence in shaping her life, worldview, and passion for missions. “When I think about what has really helped to shape my life, first and foremost, it’s my relationship with Jesus and that time in the morning alone with the Lord, in His Word, and talking with Him,” she shared. “Second is family life. God has journeyed with us so faithfully, seen us through some hard and challenging times, and has brought joy and beauty in so many ways . . . more than we even could have asked for.
Third shaping my life has been WMU,” Debby continued. “It has supported me and encouraged me to develop all the skills and gifts that God has given me. God has also used WMU to help shape my view of the world and to see all people the way that He does.”
Merging the Past with the Future
Debby was unanimously elected as the 22nd national WMU president by those present at the WMU Missions Celebration and Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida, in June. Following the election, Debby said, “The WMU missions journey begun in 1888 is the most fulfilling way I have found to serve our Lord and to see His kingdom work accomplished. I am honored to put my feet on the same path where women of giant faith, deep prayer, and extraordinary vision have served God in WMU. I think the future for WMU is more fruitful than we can even begin to imagine, and I think that God has great plans for WMU in this world.”
A native of Massachusetts, Debby has been involved in WMU on local, associational, state, and national levels. In addition to shaping lives of girls through GA for nearly 30 years, Debby has served as church WMU director, associational GA consultant, GA camp consultant, president of New England WMU, and on the boards of both national WMU and South Carolina WMU, among other leadership positions. In 2007, she received the Dellanna West O’Brien Award for Women’s Leadership Development, an annual award given to a Baptist woman who demonstrates the ability to foster leadership in women.
A graduate of New England Baptist School of Nursing in Boston, Debby ministered to others through a 30-year career in nursing before moving to South Carolina in 2000. In addition to frequently participating and leading both domestic and international missions trips, Debby’s interests include reading, writing, gardening, sewing, and walking for exercise. The Akermans have one daughter and two grandchildren.
Julie Walters serves as communications specialist for national WMU in Birmingham, Alabama.