Pastor Debbie Lindell of James River Church in Springfield, Missouri, remembers the moment she felt God calling her to create a conference for women of all walks of life.
Without hesitating, she said “yes” to God.
“Young and old — that was my heart,” says Pastor Debbie. “I knew I was supposed to reach girls. It didn’t matter if you were a 10-year-old girl or her grandma. God’s Word is applicable to all. I told God I would do whatever He called me to do.”
Pastor Debbie named the conference “Designed for Life” because she believes God designs every life on purpose — and for a purpose. “The message of the conference is that every person matters,” she says.
With no budget, and no idea how God would bring her vision to life, Pastor Debbie jumped in, trusting Him. In 2003, when the first conference was held, 375 women attended. Today, Designed for Life has grown into one of the top women’s conferences in the country, reaching 60,000 women in all 50 states and several other countries.
Pastor Debbie was overjoyed that the conference was bringing hope to so many women. Then in 2010, she began to feel a stirring in her heart that God was calling her to make more of a global impact. “I asked God, ‘What would you have us do to bless the world?’” she says. “I’m listening!”
At that very moment, Pastor Debbie’s phone rang. A woman on her team was calling to tell her about OneChild. “I was so excited,” she says. “I knew this was the answer to my prayer!”
Once again, Pastor Debbie said “yes” to God.
Within three weeks, she was in Haiti with Child Champions from OneChild to see the ministry’s work firsthand. Nothing could have prepared her for what she saw. “I had never traveled to an impoverished country before,” explains Pastor Debbie. “It felt like another planet. The poverty was horrendous. My heart was so broken. In an instant, my life was changed.”
Despite the extreme poverty that Pastor Debbie witnessed, she also felt a sense of hope. “We visited a small village, and they all gathered to welcome us,” she says. “I remember meeting a young mother outside her one-room hut and holding her 2-day-old baby in my arms. I felt so honored to be in their presence. I didn’t know what God was doing. But I knew it was the launch of something amazing.”
When Pastor Debbie returned home, Designed for Life partnered with OneChild to open the first 10 Hope Centers in Haiti where children would receive life-changing care. Because OneChild creates customized plans for churches and organizations, Pastor Debbie had the opportunity to pursue the unique vision that God had placed on her heart.
The results have been incredible. During the first year of partnership, the women of Designed for Life sponsored 500 children in Haiti. And over the last decade, 5,000 children in three countries have been sponsored through the conference. “God breathed on this partnership in a miraculous way,” says Pastor Debbie. “The women were so ready to make a difference and to use their lives to change the world. And sponsoring a child was a beautiful way for them to do just that. It isn’t just a financial gift — it’s also an emotional gift. It’s a real relationship.”
“The women were so ready to make a difference and to use their lives to change the world. And sponsoring a child was a beautiful way for them to do just that. It isn’t just a financial gift — it’s also an emotional gift. It’s a real relationship.”
Pastor Debbie also loves that sponsorship builds God’s kingdom. “The children have the opportunity to know Jesus,” she says. “You’re making an eternal impact!”
Each year, Pastor Debbie continues to inspire the women of Designed for Life to sponsor children. In 2020, she also felt God prompting her to speak up for kids in the Philippines who are vulnerable to online sexual exploitation. Sadly, the number of Filipino children who are sexually exploited has increased an estimated 300 percent during the pandemic since children are often trapped at home with abusive relatives. “Our team was 100 percent on board after learning about the burdens children are facing there,” Pastor Debbie explains.
The words of John 10:10 inspire Pastor Debbie to keep standing up for children. “Jesus said He came to give us life — and life abundantly,” she says. “That verse is not just for us in the United States. It’s for every child designed by God. He has a purpose for every child. God can redeem all the sadness, brokenness, and pain. But how will children know if we don’t tell them? We need to reveal the love of the Father. That’s what OneChild is about, and that’s why I love it!”
Pastor Debbie also says that when we share about Jesus with a child, countless lives are transformed. “With OneChild, faith is being built in the child, family, church, and community,” she explains. “Sponsors and their families also grow spiritually because they’ve stepped out in faith.” She has witnessed the impact sponsorship has had on her own family — her son, Pastor Brandon Lindell and his wife, Beth, sponsor four kids with OneChild and are passionate about speaking up boldly for children in poverty as well.
In the future, Pastor Debbie prays that Designed for Life will continue to bring hope to the hard places. “I have a vision for thousands more children to be sponsored!” she says. “I can be confident that God will accomplish His will through me as long as I stay connected to Him. I’m going to hold on to God’s hand as tight as I can. If I do that, I’m not going to miss it. If I’m doing what God calls me to do, I know it will impact the world.”
Partner with OneChild to transform lives!
Your church or organization can partner with OneChild as well. We’d love to create a customized plan to help you pursue what God is placing on your heart.
“If you partner with OneChild, you’ll never regret it,” says Pastor Debbie. “They’ll walk with you every step of the way. They’ll inspire your church to be more than it’s ever been before, beyond what you can imagine.”
Because Pastor Debbie courageously said “Yes” to God — even before she knew what the journey would look like — thousands of lives have been transformed. She invites you to do the same. “Step out in faith,” she says. “Don’t miss the opportunity to make a difference around the world.”
Visit onechild.org/partner to learn how you can partner with OneChild.