Trust Services and SIMPLIFY
Living Out Our Mission: Debbie Cone
October 22, 2018
Debbie Cone of Ronald Blue Trust’s Houston office is eagerly anticipating her retirement at the end of the year, but it’s not because she’s slowing down. She’s looking forward to becoming even more active in the ministries and organizations that she is passionate about.
Debbie came to Ronald Blue & Co. (the predecessor company to Ronald Blue Trust) 11 years ago and serves as a Senior Client Service Associate supporting Derek Irish (Managing Director for the Western U.S. region) and the Houston branch. Several years ago, Debbie and her husband Wayne started taking travel tours to Israel. “We just fell in love with the people and became good friends with a local Jewish family there,” she explains. “Wayne and I felt led to seek out volunteer opportunities to help the community in any way we could.”
While it’s easy to conclude from news headlines that the region may be in a constant state of violence and turmoil, Debbie says that in reality, many of the people who live in Israel have a surprisingly peaceful coexistence with each other. “After we saw the Arab and Jewish people working together to maintain harmony and peace, we knew that we wanted to be a part of that and part of bringing the love of Jesus to them,” she says.
Through their Jewish friends in Israel, the Cones became connected to St. John’s Anglican Church in Haifa. On a very small budget, the church runs St. John’s Episcopal School for Arab Christians and Arab Muslims who come from all over northwestern Israel. “We learned that all eighth graders are required to pass an English proficiency test in order to go to high school. However, even with classroom instruction, they don’t always have opportunities to practice their English conversationally,” Debbie says. “The school told us that we could really make a difference by simply spending time with the students.” Since their first tour of Israel, Debbie and Wayne have made several trips back to Haifa over the past year to do just that.
Wayne and Debbie in front of the library at St. John’s Episcopal School in Haifa, Israel.
Debbie and Wayne’s typical visit to the school might include playing games, talking about modern culture, and sharing stories about family with the inquisitive students, who Debbie says display tremendous respect for elders and their wisdom. “The students have been very eager and responsive to us,” she says. “We’ve even connected with a pair of students who made a trip to Houston, and we are hoping to attend graduation in Haifa for some of the students we’ve worked with.”
The experience has been enriching culturally too; Debbie and Wayne have enjoyed taking walks through ancient streets, picking up dinner at local markets, attending daily chapel and worshipping at St. John’s on Sundays, and celebrating the high Jewish holidays with their local friends.
Back home, Debbie has big plans for how she will spend her retirement. In addition to going back to St. John’s a couple of times a year, she and Wayne plan on leading pilgrimage trips to Israel and helping local guides provide scriptural context for the many sights seen on the tours. There’s also a school in Nazareth – a more rural area than Haifa – that they may get involved with. And there are exciting opportunities to serve in Houston as well; groups such as One for Israel and Jerusalem Peace Builders have captured Debbie’s interest, as well as an organization that raises awareness of and support for Israel’s arts scene.
In addition to her impressive plans to support these ministries, Debbie is looking forward to spending time with her three grown children and their families in Texas, which include her two granddaughters and two grandsons.
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