Sharing our homes and our lives for Jesus’ sake

My husband, Dale, and I married 11 years ago—I was widowed and he was divorced—and the thing that attracted us to one another was a mutual interest in missions. Dale was a missionary kid. He grew up in Africa. My first husband and I had been involved in short-term mission trips, so that was kind of the key thing that drew us together.

During this time, my best friend had been teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) and she kept telling me I would like volunteering for ESL after I retired. I retired shortly after we married, and I was like, “OK, I am going to give this a try.” I did and was asked to teach the beginning English class to people who know almost no English. I enjoyed it immensely, interacting with them and getting to know their backgrounds. As I got more comfortable with the teaching part of it, God began to move in my heart that I needed to do more than just teach them. I needed to befriend them and be involved in their lives however I could.

God began to show me that this was a way to reach the nations. After a missions training course at our church [Church at the Cross in Grapevine], I began praying for ways to connect with my students. It began with taking some students to lunch and sharing the gospel with them.

“We were willing to go overseas, and we have, but we’ve seen that there’s a huge mission field right here in our town and our own neighborhood.”

Through our women’s ministry I learned of a need [on the internet]—a mother and daughter, refugees from Cuba, were looking for a place to live. First I looked at it and I thought, “Huh, that’s interesting. I’ll just watch this post and see if anybody responds to it.” After a day or two, there were no responses. I showed it to Dale. I said, “What do you think about this?” He encouraged me to find out more, pointing out that we had the resources to provide housing, food, and transportation, and we weren’t uncomfortable with people who speak a different language. One step at a time we looked into it [and met] Griset and her 14-year-old daughter Chanely by Zoom (it was during COVID). We ended up welcoming them into our home in 2020.

They will have been with us four years this August. Dale taught Griset to drive and we helped her do the things that allowed her to get a green card and a job. Our goal is for them to be independent, but there’s been a lot of challenges. Chanely graduated from Grapevine High School in May. Both Griset and Chanely have trusted Christ and were baptized into our church.  

Chanely, Katerina, Debbie, Griset, and Honza at Katerina and Honza’s naturalization ceremony. All four have come to faith in Christ in the last two years and have been baptized at Church at the Cross. Katerina and Honza are from the Czech Republic and are now American citizens.

But that’s just one layer of the story. After things opened up after COVID, I went back to teaching ESL in-person and I started praying, “God, show me who of my students is open to the gospel and who you want me to invest my time in on a more personal level.” That first year back a new student came to my class for the first time. She was from [a Muslim country]. God led me to befriend and invest in her. We’ve had her family to dinner at our house and they have invited us to dinner in their home. All the while she was improving her English and I was learning more about reaching Muslims with the gospel. A second answer to prayer was a relationship I formed with a lady from the Czech Republic. She had a keen spiritual interest, and both she and her husband have now received Christ and been baptized into our church. 

Dale and I had always said that when he retired, we wanted to do some more international mission trips and maybe even do something a little longer term. He retired a couple of years ago and we went on a church mission trip to Japan. But I told Dale, “We could do something else. Let’s see what other opportunities are out there.”

Debbie (far left) sharing Jesus with Muslims in Europe.

So, I went to the International Mission Board’s website and looked at short-term mission opportunities for people our age. The one that popped out at me offered us the chance to witness to tourists from Muslim countries as they visited Europe. We went on a trip and shared with people for about five hours a day for two weeks. When we came home, we were like, “Wow, that was amazing. We want to do this again next year.” We’re actually going to a different spot next time.

We were willing to go overseas, and we have, but we’ve seen that there’s a huge mission field right here in our town and our own neighborhood. It’s been a process, a journey, for us. We’ve learned some important things along the way. Maybe the most important is to take a step toward immigrants or people of other beliefs and engage them. You show them love, share the Bible with them, pray with them in Jesus’ name. You don’t have to know everything there is to know about their religion. You’ve just got to know who Jesus is.

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(as told to Gary Ledbetter)
Debbie Fogle
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