Furlough, Deputation, and Other Revolving Door Ministries

Every week you meet a whole group of new people. You try to minister in a meaningful way, but you find yourself feeling like so much window dressing. Dress pretty. Smile right. Answer the same timeworn questions about your ministry and your country one more time. Move on to a new group.

Furlough and deputation or pre-field ministry can feel like a revolving door of strangers. How can you relate to individuals when their faces change each week? One approach says you’re here to present your ministry and field. As long as you’re doing that you don’t have to worry about the strangers you meet each week.

True, it is totally unrealistic to expect to connect with everyone. You’ll never be able to remember even the names of key people in every church you visit. But you can touch individual lives in a significant way.  Here’s how:

Send out feelers

When my husband and I go to camp we each sit separately with different campers every meal. We line up last so we can spot spare places and sit with kids who might show more interest than others. We ask the names of kids closest to us and ask where they are from.  We ask about camp activities. If we’re familiar with their families we ask about them. We might ask about their interests: sports, music, future career, hobbies, college expectations. This often gives us a way to connect with some of them.

I look for potential writers or missionaries or Christian workers. Art is more likely to ask about sports and physical activities. The key word is “ask.” Many kids and teens are willing to talk if you get the conversation started, ask them about themselves, and show genuine interest.

You can do a similar thing while you stand by a display table, watch a soccer game, or visit at someone’s house.

Focus on them

As missionary guest speakers the focus is usually on us. We go first in the food line. We are featured and welcomed in the service. We talk about ourselves and our ministry. Some of this is necessary and helpful. But if we want to have a significant impact on individuals we need to shift the focus at some point. This is not just about me and my ministry. Who are you? What’s going on in your life right now? What are you passionate about? What can I learn from you?

When you focus on a person you listen to more than words. You search for their concerns or joys or passions.  You listen to what they say to learn about them, not just to use their words as a springboard for your own comments. You may never see this person again, but right now he deserves your full attention.

Connect as a friend

This is not sermon time. I’m not here to straighten you out or perform like super-missionary. I just want to know you and affirm you.

You like to play baseball? Cool. What position do you play? I know missionaries who use baseball for a great outreach in the Dominican Republic.

You play the piano? How long have you played? God can really use that skill on the mission field.

You do patchwork? I’d love to see your work sometime. Do you display it anywhere?

You’re a football fan? In New Zealand they play rugby. I actually know very little about it, but you should talk to my husband sometime. He likes sports, but he’s more of a runner.

Sound pointless? Actually making conversation is an important missionary skill that will help you wherever you go. Today we have more forms of communication than ever before: texting, email, phone calls, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, even snail mail. But with all of these, we have less and less time to actually focus on one person and communicate well. It’s becoming a dying art, and yet one that is desperately needed.

I’m convinced that one of the most effective ways to impact people is through quiet, personal conversations. We don’t usually see the results of this kind of ministry, but it is real and memorable.

What are some ways you reach out to people during periods of constant travel?

About Deb

My Life

            In fifth grade I wrote an essay about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I decided I wanted to be a preacher’s wife like my mom. I wanted lots of kids and lots of dogs. I wanted my home to be a boisterous place with lots of people enjoying each other. I may not have used the word “boisterous,” but I learned one thing from my essay. I liked to write.

            During junior high and high school I loved my creative writing classes. I dreamed of being a published author, but I had no idea how to get published. I asked the Lord show me what He wanted me to do.

            At Faith Baptist Bible College I took two journalism classes and I found out how to get published. My professor, Mr. Clarence Townsend taught me how to write, how to submit an article for publication, and how to make goals for my writing. During that time I realized that, whatever else the Lord wanted me to do, He wanted me to write for Christian publication.

            During that same year at Faith the Lord led me into a relationship with Art Brammer. Art thought the Lord wanted him to be a missionary to Taiwan. Was I willing to consider that too? I was. The Lord led us together and gave me a desire to serve Him in Taiwan with Art. We both graduated from Faith and were married in 1977. We joined the Baptist Mid Missions [link to BMM (www.bmm.org)] team in 1978. Since then we have served sixteen years in Taiwan and more than ten years in New Zealand.

            Regular Baptist Press rejected the first article I sent them, but they accepted and published my next article in 1978. Since then they have published more than 125 of my articles, some several times. Bob Jones University Press published my first book in 1994 and three others since then. For more information on things I have written look under Order and Freebies on my home page. [links?]

            In recent years the Lord has led me to do more than write and be a missionary. I feel He also wants me to mentor new writers. I have a special desire to help writers who are taking their first steps toward being published by conservative fundamental Christian publishers. When I first considered this I thought, “Who am I to think I can mentor other writers? I’ve never spoken at a writer’s conference. I’m no authority on writing.” But the Lord showed me that I don’t know of anyone else who is mentoring entry level writers in these circles. Someone needs to do it. One of the main reasons I’m starting this website is to help mentor new writers.

            If you are an aspiring writer who longs to be published but doesn’t know where to begin, this website is for you. You will have to work hard to learn your craft. You will face rejection. You will not get rich quick. You may not make minimum wage for all the hours you put in since publication doesn’t pay an hourly wage. But if you will work, learn, and persevere, Lord willing you will become a published author.


What’s the big deal about God?


            Maybe you’ve come to my website to learn about writing but you don’t understand why I have to bring God into it. Maybe you don’t know God in a personal way. Why does everything I do seem to come back to God?

            I base everything I do and believe on the Bible. It tells me that God is the Creator of all life. Before I was born, God knew the person I would become. He had a plan for my life. His plan is far better for me than my own plans. God knew I would do wrong things. God is perfect. He has never done anything wrong and He can’t do anything wrong. He can’t overlook wrong and pretend it doesn’t matter.

            But God had a plan that would allow Him to accept me even though I do many wrong things. He sent His own Son Jesus to the world as a human baby. Jesus is fully God and fully human. He grew to be a child and then a man. Jesus never did anything wrong, but people killed him. It was all part of God’s plan. Jesus took my punishment for all the wrong things I have done. Three days later He became alive again.

            When I was a little girl I realized that I could never be good enough to please God on my own. I knew Jesus had died in my place. I told God I was sorry for all the wrong things I had done and would do. I asked Him to accept Jesus’ death in place of my punishment. I believe He did that. I still do wrong things but I know God forgives me because Jesus took my punishment.

            My life all comes back to God. He created life in the first place. He planned out my life. He gave the life of His own Son to enable me to know Him as a Friend. He knows what’s best for me and He leads me to do the right thing. He enables me to do everything I do. I owe Him so much! Of course I want to live to please Him.

            If you would like to know more about having a personal relationship with the God of the universe, feel free to contact me. [Contact Deb link]


Personal Stuff


[pictures of Art and me, Lisa and Luke, Lori and Cory, use the 1961 Allen family photo from the family CD. It has the 5 of us in front of the church. I’m wearing an Easter hat.]


            My dad, Ray Allen, pastored Baptist churches, mainly in Colorado from the time I was born until not long before he died in 1990. I thank the Lord for my parents, Ray and Florence Allen. They passed on to me a love for the Lord and a love for ministry. My dad also loved to write. He wrote countless poems and had a few articles published after I began writing for publication.

            I am thankful that all four of my brothers love and serve the Lord. They and their families are scattered all across America. My brother Tim has been extremely helpful by setting up this website.

            Art has been my constant companion and friend since 1977. I love working together with him in the ministry. He critiques my work, serves as my IT man, and believes in my work when it seems no one else does.

            Our oldest daughter, Lisa, married Luke Bolton in 2007. They plan to minister to Chinese people. Lisa won the GARBC national Talents for Christ contest in writing in 1997. This gave her one free year of tuition at Faith Baptist Bible College. She has had many articles published by Regular Baptist Press.


            Our second daughter, Lori, married Cory Zorn in 2001. They live and work and serve in their church in Des Moines, Iowa. They are the proud parents of two miniature dachshunds. Lori has had several articles published by Regular Baptist Press.

            In 2006 Art was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. This means he needs a gluten free diet. He can’t eat anything made with wheat, rye, barley, or triticale. In 2007 Lisa was diagnosed with the same disease. Both lead perfectly normal lives as long as they stick to the diet. I know from experience what a learning curve it is to change your entire diet to one that is gluten free. I’ve collected and developed my own gluten free recipes and want to share them with others who need a gluten free diet. You can download my gluten free recipes.