Ministry Starts with Family: Debbie and Kaylyn Lanier

Debbie Lanier is a familiar name in the community and to Forsyth Womanreaders, as she has been a featured columnist since 2012.  Debbie and her husband, Bishop Paul Lanier, are the founders of Hope Community Church.  Ministry has been a big part of their journey with Paul ordained as a bishop in 1997, and Debbie ordained as a minister in 1998.

A Pastoral Calling

At both Paul and Debbie’s ordination ceremonies, a young girl watched her parents commit their lives to the service of ministry and knew in her heart that she would follow the same path.

Debbie shared, “Our daughter Kaylyn was only seven years old when I was ordained, and she gave me a letter. In the letter (a treasured possession I carry in my Bible), she wrote that one day, she wanted to be in ministry just like me.”

“I actually discouraged it,” continued Debbie.  “Twenty-one years ago, I entered the ministry terrified of the calling.  I wanted to obey God but knew no women mentors serving as pastors. I felt like a misfit.  My husband and I were concerned for Kaylyn. We didn’t want her feeling obligated to go into ministry.  If it’s not your calling, it’s not a load you can carry.”

But the fire in her soul was lit, and Kaylyn Lanier knew at a tender young age her purpose in life. “I have always been certain that this is what I was supposed to do,” Kaylyn shared.  “My parents’ respective ordinations were marker moments in my life. They fueled my passion to serve.”

Debbie chimed in, “There’s tremendous beauty in the differences between my experience and Kaylyn’s. While I entered the calling with trepidation, Kaylyn has done so with fearless conviction.  I love seeing her embrace ministry with exuberance and boldness – something she’s been passionate about since her first mission trip with Paul.”

The Mission Field

Kaylyn was only nine years old when she served in Peru with her father.  “It changed my life forever,” she said.  “We helped prepare meals, build a home, and dig a well.  I saw poverty that was completely foreign to me. The only thing about the trip that frustrated me was the language barrier.  When we came home, I was determined to learn Spanish.  Today, it thrills me to serve as an interpreter. We go to minister in Guatemala later this month.”

Global Missions has been a passion for the Laniers and Kaylyn. She’s spent two summers in Israel. Her mission work has taken her many times to Peru, Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Ireland, and Scotland.

“Taking God’s Hope to the nations is something I was created to do,” Kaylyn continued.  “I love God, and I love His people.  Once you go, it’s difficult to keep any focus on yourself. You quickly shift to the needs of others which is exactly how Jesus lived.”

Family Worship

Debbie said, “Paul and I have been blessed.  We determined early on that our first mission started at home. We wanted our children to own Faith for themselves. Kaylyn has always been a Jesus girl. Our son, Paul, is also extremely active in ministry. It’s one of the greatest privileges of my life to minister alongside my family.”

“My brother and I are thankful that we never felt like we had to compete with the church,” shared Kaylyn. “That’s a big problem for a lot of pastor’s kids, but Mama, and Daddy, as well as the church, were always supportive of us.”

Debbie and Kaylyn Lanier are women with tremendous hearts for Jesus.  “We respect that some people still take issue with women’s role in ministry work,” Debbie said. “But we’re here because God called us to these assignments. We aren’t trying to prove a point. We’re trying to prove His love.”

A New Generation of Ministry

Kaylyn was ordained on February 10, 2019.  Coming full circle from a young girl’s witness of her parents’ ceremonies, both Paul and Debbie participated in their daughter’s ordination.

“I know my life belongs to God. I’m grateful that I can begin my pastoral ministry with a role model like my mama,” said Kaylyn.  “I will go wherever God calls me to go, and do whatever He asks me to do because I know He goes before me. I get to do that because I have a mama who showed me that it was possible.”

Debbie and Kaylyn Lanier serve as ministers at Hope Community Church.  Visit the church located at 4660 Brownsboro Road in Winston-Salem.  Learn more at HopeCommunityChurch.TV.  Call 336.896.0002.


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