Debbie Alnutt: Missionary in England
By Selma Komisky
“It was a dual life, hypocritical and self indulgent, pretending to be one thing but living quite differently than what I appeared to be. This dual life continued on for the next six years…”
– Debbie Alnutt
At the very young age of seven, Debbie Alnutt knew there was something very beautiful and different about her grandmother’s life, more than anyone in her family. It was her grandmother who knelt down with her by her bed and asked if she wanted to give her heart to Jesus — she said yes. However, just two months later, it would be her grandmother that she would lose as she passed away.
Alnutt shares, “I was number four of four daughters. My parents took very good care of us, but by the time I came along they were backslidden and no longer attending church except for the occasional Easter or Christmas service … At 15, an episcopal vicar moved into the neighborhood and put a flyer into everyone’s post box that invited anyone who had questions about God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit to come to his house for discussion.”
Alnutt talked her friend into coming with her and went every week. Within a year, she was baptized and confirmed into the Episcopal Church. She reminisces, “I remember the sense of joy and the cleansing of my sins at my baptism. I was a good church girl and soon memorized the Sunday prayers from the prayer book we used each week. Monday through Saturday I lived for me, was boy-crazy, and my main objectives were to maintain a B-average to keep my parents happy and to be in the cool crowd at school. I talked five of my closest girlfriends into coming to church with me on Sundays and our youth group on Fridays, not so they could know Jesus, but so that I could have my friends near me always as we pursued boys. We drank every Friday and Saturday night, and smoked pot off and on when it was available.”
One day, her aunt from Suriname came to visit, and showed her slides of her life and ministry as a missionary. There Alnutt saw a life that was a sincere life of purpose, peace, and joy; Alnutt wanted what she had.
She recalls, “My aunt took me for a drive in her car and asked me to tell her my testimony. I didn’t know what a testimony was. She asked me to tell her about my life with Jesus. I told her that I went to church each Sunday, was baptized and confirmed into the church. She asked me if I read my Bible. I told her that I had tried but didn’t understand it. We stopped at a park, and she took a little pamphlet out of her purse and proceeded to share the gospel with me. For the first time since I was seven-years-old, I heard the full gospel story. I finally understood the way of salvation through the cross of Jesus, of my need to repent, and to turn away from my sins. Also, how to receive forgiveness and the power to live a life that pleases God by the indwelling Holy Spirit. All those years I had lived by works, without peace or the knowledge of the power that Jesus had given us to walk a victorious life that pleased God.”
After Alnutt’s aunt prayed with her, she took her directly to a Christian bookstore and bought her a King James Version Bible translation and Living Bible translation along with a little book on faith. She read and explained John’s gospel in her KJV Bible and when it came to a part she didn’t understand, she looked it up in her Living Bible. She also began to pray before and after her Bible reading and the Holy Spirit would help her.
Alnutt concluded, “For the first time in my life, I began to understand what I was reading.”
Before she went back to Suriname, her aunt also brought her alongside her uncle, another vibrant believer, to help continue on with the discipling that she needed. Alnutt states, “Soon after, my uncle led my husband to the Lord. We had been married just six months and how grateful we are as we look back to see how God changed the course of our lives in His direction. We had been wrapped up in socializing, drinking, learning which wines were the best wines, and which restaurants were the best restaurants, chasing money, careers, travel and pursuing anything but God. Church had been a social duty before, but now it seemed a vibrant place where we grew in grace and love for God and others as we hungered to know and understand His word, and looked forward to something called worship and fellowship.”
Also, she was able to meet new people that were patient and kind at her church. She shares, “After church, Marshall [my husband] and I would go outside and stand by our car and smoke. Never did they [the church] chasten us. Soon we felt convicted by the Holy Spirit that we might be stumbling children around us and so we stopped smoking in the church parking lot. Not long after we began teaching those very children in ‘Brigade Boys’ and ‘Pioneer Girls’ [similar to scouting] on Thursday nights. Months rolled into years and as we grew spiritually, we went out evangelizing door to door with the church family, helped with the youth group, and soon hosted our own home group.”
As a few years went by, the couple also became involved with other evangelical churches such as Christian Missionary Alliance, Nazarene, Evangelical Free, Free Methodist and Calvary Chapel. They had two daughters along the way and her husband would soon go to bible college and then to the mission field 10 years later. Together, they served in Chile and South America for a short period until the doors became closed for missionaries to return there. They began to pray for the next place they were to go. About ten years later, the Lord opened the door to go to London, England.
In 2000, Alnutt and her husband moved to London as Calvary Chapel missionaries and later as teachers at bible colleges in Germany and Spain. Lastly, they planted a new Calvary Chapel church in East London in 2006, called CC Docklands and City where Marshall Alnutt is Senior Pastor.
Alnutt notes, “My husband and I are not gifted evangelists, although sharing the gospel is something we do. Mainly our current ministry revolves around personal discipleship and encouraging people to grow in Christ, and to develop and use the gifts God has given them. When we first planted the church, Marshall said, ‘I know how to do church but I want to see the Lord build His church. I’d like the church to be a safe place where people won’t get ripped off, and will be able to grow in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ’ [2 Peter 3:18]. Ten years ago when we planted the church, there were many churches in London teaching all manner of unusual and even unbiblical things. He felt compelled to go steadily verse by verse through the Scriptures and give as much Bible as possible to the church family.”
Concluding with her thoughts on ministry, she says, “Knowing Him, enjoying Him and being with Him daily is how I work out my salvation [Philippians 2:12, 13]. Everything I attempt to do in His name must pour out of relationship with Him forever. My chief aim has become to enjoy Him, and in ministry to live in active hope of glorifying Him.”
Visit calvarychapeldocklands.co.uk for more!