Read letters from Debbie and Del Braaksma
Debbie and Del Braaksma
In March of 2010, Debbie and Del concluded their service as PC(USA) mission co-workers after nearly five years of serving with RECONCILE. In 2010 Debbie began a new position as the area coordinator for Africa for World Mission of the Presbyterian Church, and in 2011 Del began working with World Mission as the associate for Staff Education and Training. Debbie and Del live in Louisville, Kentucky.
In July 2005 Debbie and Delvin Braaksma were appointed jointly by the PC(USA) and the Reformed Church in America (RCA) to serve with RECONCILE (Resource Centre for Civil Leadership), an indigenous ecumenical Christian organization in a conflict-ridden country in the horn of Africa, where it is too sensitive to identify.
RECONCILE was established in March 2004 by a national church council for “peace-building” by providing training in trauma healing, conflict transformation, and civic education. RECONCILE’s activities are in areas of high interethnic conflict, and the churches are the typical point of entry into these communities. “Who can better lead the process of reconciliation,” asks Debbie, “than the churches of Christ, those who have personally experienced reconciliation to God through Jesus Christ?”
Along with their African colleagues, the Braaksmas facilitated training events in the areas of interethnic conflicts, as well as at RECONCILE’s training center. Del had specific responsibilities overseeing the physical development of the training center’s programs, including a goat project. Debbie was the acting principal of the RECONCILE Peace Institute. Del and Debbie Braaksma were well suited for this work, having served 11 years as RCA missionaries among the Orma people in Kenya, working extensively in community development. “We learned to deeply love and appreciate people of a culture that was very different from ours,” says Debbie. “We had opportunities to share with them about our faith in Christ. We also worked closely with Muslim leaders on joint community development projects to address the needs of the poor in our communities. This experience helped us to formulate our view of Christian holistic witness to Muslims, which includes sensitive sharing of one’s faith and living in dialogue together.”
After their years of service in Kenya (1987 to 1998), Del worked as operations manager for a Chicago-based company, and Debra served the RCA as mission supervisor for Africa.
Del holds a Bachelor of Science in agriculture from the University of Wisconsin and a Master of Science in tropical animal health and production from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. Debbie has a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Minnesota and a Master of Theology from the University of Edinburgh. She is a candidate for a D.Min. at Western Theological Seminary in Holland, Michigan.
Debbie was ordained to the ministry of Word and Sacrament in 2004 by the Chicago Classis of the RCA.
Debbie and Del are the parents of four children. Stephen and his family live and work in Madison, Wisconsin. Michael is working in Chicago. Bethany is a graduate student at the University of Michigan, and Daniel attends North Park University.
Debbie - May 18
Delvin - December 20
Stephen - November 24
Michael - April 17
Bethany - April 10
Daniel - October 10