Global Woman Highlight | Debbie Barthalow

Let me introduce myself.  I have many names to which I answer.  First is Debbie, then there is Mama, and the one I love to hear most often is Bibi.  I am a wife to David, mother of 2 wonderful sons and 2 daughters-in-love, and grandmother of 6 beautiful grandchildren.  David and I just celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary.  Our children are the very heart of who we are.  In addition, I am a teacher having taught in Tennessee, Kenya, Bangladesh and Tanzania.

David partnered with his brother in a hardwood flooring business and I taught in the elementary school near our home in Tennessee when the Lord placed a desire in our hearts for Africa.  As a teenager, David was called into cross-cultural work telling the Lord he would go anywhere except Africa.  I never knew anything about cross-cultural work until I married him.  When we came to Africa for the first time on a short term trip in 1995, we knew our lives were forever changed.  We applied with our Assemblies of God fellowship, but the doors didn’t open.  God revealed the reason the doors were closed when our family was suddenly hit with a devastating illness, leukemia, in our youngest son.  Two and a half years into our son’s treatment, the Lord spoke to our hearts that it was time to prepare for Africa.  At the same time, God amazingly healed our son and we prepared to go for 2 years to Kenya.  I taught at Rosslyn Academy in Nairobi and David helped in the final phase of the construction of Kenya’s Kids Home.  At the end of those 2 years, we applied for full appointment and after a year of itineration returned to Kenya to work in many areas throughout the country with the Kenya Assemblies of God (KAG).

Together, we have hosted a number of teams building tabernacles, holding evangelistic crusades, conducting women’s conferences (The Esther Conference), teaching young girls about purity, and working alongside other Global Workers with medical clinics.  David was also the national surveyor for the KAG in locating areas for needed wells and church planting.  On numerous occasions, I went to Bangladesh, where our son was serving, and taught educational courses at the Teacher’s Training Institute and conducted 4 sessions of “Reflections of a Queen” for the women & young girls.  “Reflections of a Queen” is an experience based ministry centered on the book of Esther that a friend and I developed several years ago.  The last year in Kenya, I served on the Rosslyn Academy School Board and conducted a professional development seminar on “Differences in Teaching Boys and Girls”.

We remained in Kenya from 2000 until 2012.  From 2008-2012, the Lord had been speaking transition to us.  As we prayed and talked to our leadership, the door to Tanzania opened for us to serve in the construction of the Church Planting Schools being established in every district of Tanzania.  Since arriving in Tanzania in September 2013, we have hosted several building teams, conducted a women’s conference (The Esther Conference) and secured funds for a few other projects.  Also, I have conducted a teacher certification training for teachers at a local nursery school.

More than anything, David  and I desire to completely fulfill the calling God has on our lives.  We want to use our talents and abilities to make Christ known.  As we near the age of retirement, we want to hear God’s voice directing our paths and walk through the doors He opens for us.  Our parents are aging and we know the time is nearing when there will be significant changes.  We need wisdom and discernment to walk this path.  Living so far away from our grandchildren poses another dynamic in our relationship with them.  Our 3 families live on 3 different continents and it is not easy to have life experiences together which bonds relationships.  In saying all this, we committed our life to Christ and chose to follow Him completely.  Therefore we say, “I know the one in whom I trust and I am sure that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until the day of His return.”


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