Volunteer Spotlight: Debbie Salansky
One of my favorite parts about the Volunteer Spotlight is getting hold of the humble people who would never willingly be thrust into the limelight and making their contribution known. Debbie is one of those people. She is a driving force behind our ministry, but because of her humility, you'd never suspect it. Most of you know Debbie, and I think you'll be excited to learn a little more about her.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I grew up the youngest of three in the small town of Oneida, Tennessee where culture was very uniform. There, in a tiny part of the world in a tiny church, where Bible stories ignited my sense of adventure, curiosity in different cultures, and mission opportunities. I studied biology at Tennessee Tech University where I met my husband, Gary. We have been married for 29 years and have two fabulous sons. I studied Physical Therapy at UT in Memphis. My life experience in cultural diversity continued to grow with my life path. As a PT, I was drawn to the story of a quadriplegic named Joni Eareckson Tada. I began praying and researching whether I might be able to become involved with the Joni and Friends Wheels for the World Program - and it became real for me - worship, serving in the Kingdom.
What made you get involved in Luke 14 Ministries?
My family and I attend Manley Baptist Church and that is the location where the Morristown Luke 14 Party happens. God provided the opportunity for me and it is important for me personally and my family to join with other like-minded people. My prior personal involvement with the JONI and Friends Wheels for the World also transitioned well for me into the Luke 14 Ministries Wheels for Kenya outreach. What events or programs have you participated in, and what roles did you fill?
Morristown and Kenya Luke 14 Parties. Camp Celebrate activities: feeding volunteers, driving golf carts, assisting with spa days and cheering for the talent shows. Construction of portable therapeutic devices to send for Jesus Kids in Nigeria. Working on and participating in the Wheels for Kenya trips. And, serving as a board member to Luke 14 Ministries. What is your favorite thing about Luke 14 Ministries?
I love the focus on Kingdom principles while sharing my life with others.
As a Physical Therapist, you have a lot of experience working with folks with disabilities. What would you say to someone who is new to disability ministry to encourage them to get involved? I do not have one single piece of advice. It would depend upon the “someone who is new” - their background and experience. But, I would say if you feel God calling in this arena, then step in. There are many areas that can use many different talents and gifts. He will provide others that will be happy to talk and walk with you. You will learn and grow, be blessed and experience Jesus in a very special way.
What is the most memorable experience you've had with Luke 14 Ministries?
So many... seeing miracle after miracle. But, to date, the most dear to my heart is sharing my passion firsthand with my husband and son as they traveled to serve on the most recent trip to Kenya.
What are some ways you saw God in action during the trip to Kenya? Some ways, SO many ways... I am glad you asked. Watching God put together this incredible team of talent for the work required on this trip has been an absolute joy for me. He provided for our needs and showed up in every encounter. This was a rewarding and joyful trip filled with physical and emotional challenges. There were long hours beginning early and lasting into the darkness, down pouring rain and mud to contend with, long hours of travel, different food and culture. Everyone, tired and weary but when even more was asked from them I never heard the first complaint. I heard willingness to do whatever it took to complete the need at the time. We were faced with physical illnesses, a broken down bus, a lost passport, lost luggage, missed flights, unexpected change in work schedules and weather that required flexibility, working in darkness with electricity only supplied from a generator to support a few power tools but no lights other than flashlights. I saw others excited and generous in continuing to give of themselves. I saw love in tangible ways that needed no words to recognize. I saw very different people becoming one for a common goal and new relationships formed. I saw wheelchairs fitting like a glove that God had picked for the special recipient and orchestrated the process all the way from the USA to Africa. I saw other chairs that would not fit at all until the team He sent went to work diligently to evaluate and fabricate custom inserts and supports that were specific for the individuals needs to make sure the chair fit appropriately. I watched as human beings made in the image of God, crawl on the ground or be carried by others, where they were treated with dignity, shown love and respect, washed and bandaged, evaluated and fit for a mobility device, prayed for and shared with the good news of Jesus Christ. I saw downcast faces and postures changed with hope and encouragement. I saw our team members put aside their wants and needs time after time placing the needs of others before their own. I saw joy in difficulty, true joy that transcends circumstances because it comes from Gods strength alone. I saw celebration and worship. I saw beauty, I saw Jesus hands and feet and heart in those who serve him.
How has being involved in Luke 14 Ministries affected your walk with Christ?
Hopefully in being able to better receive and extend grace in knowing we are all broken and poor in ourself, and totally dependent upon Jesus. My walk with Christ has driven me in my involvement with Luke 14, and my involvement with Luke 14 has brought me closer to Christ - it is a beautiful and ongoing process.