After more than 30 years of praying, Debbie and Jeff Vredenbregt saw tangible answers to their prayers.
Debbie and Jeff partnered in the ministry of their friend, Nancy Loveland, for three decades. In August 2019 they were able to visit the place where Nancy served for 15 years — the mountains of Peru. While in Peru, they took part in the dedication of the Huaylas Quechua Bible — a Scripture translation that Nancy had been a part of and was supported by the Vredenbregts’ prayers and gifts.
Debbie said, “It's Nancy's world, and we've been a part of it through prayer. We got to see [the work] come to fruition. We got to see God’s faithfulness in making all the hard work count for eternity.”
Seasons of Friendship
Nancy and Debbie met at a Bible study when Debbie was just 16 and Nancy was 21. The girls became close friends and prayer partners. As the years passed, they prayed each other through many big life decisions: where to go to school, where to intern and whether to go on mission trips. Nancy introduced Debbie to Jeff, and when God spoke to Nancy about serving in missions full-time, Debbie was by her side to help pray about the decision.
Nancy joined Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1983, around the same time Debbie and Jeff married. The newlyweds were the first people to join Nancy’s partnership team and helped launch her ministry. The partnership continued; Jeff and Debbie served as faithful prayer partners and pen pals, often representing Nancy at her sending church. Nancy became an honorary member of the Vredenbregt family. She stayed with them in the States while on furlough, and the kids called her “Aunt Nancy.”
After her time in Peru, Nancy served in Mozambique. Eventually she returned to the United States to live with her mom. Nancy and Debbie still talk and text almost daily, continuing their relationship rooted in mutual prayer.
The Celebration of a Lifetime
So when Nancy learned about the opportunity to attend the Huaylas Quechua dedication, she immediately thought of Debbie and Jeff. She had shared her time and ministry in Peru with the couple through photos, prayer letters and phone calls, but this was the chance to bring it all to life.
“The trip felt like going home,” Nancy said. “Peru is deep down inside me. To be able to share that with Debbie and Jeff was wonderful. It's like telling someone all about your family and then having them meet [for the first time].”
The day of the Scripture dedication was full of excitement and emotion. Jeff and Debbie joined a parade through the city of Huaraz to the site of the dedication ceremony. Because the translation team knew that Debbie and Jeff had been part of the work too, they asked them to pose for pictures with a banner at the head of the parade.
“It was pretty emotional for me, Holy Spirit-charged,” Debbie said. “I had a chance to put a face to a name, hug people and say, ‘I have prayed for you.’ It's what I imagine heaven will be like.”
The dedication included special music, a pachamanca lunch (meat, potatoes and vegetables cooked in an earth oven) and the arrival of the newly printed Bibles on a pair of llamas.
“It really brings to life what you're hearing about,” said Jeff. “[Before] it was superficial, like reading it in a book. [To] see the coming together of years of work was like a reunion. The reaction of the people receiving the whole Bible in their language. You can't imagine it until you've actually been there.”
Visiting Peru helped Jeff and Debbie realize that although Nancy’s time in the country was complete, their part in the work wasn’t over. Jeff said, “It didn't end with the Bible dedication, in some ways it just started there. It’s a new chapter for the Huaylas Quechua people.”
Debbie agreed: “I have a new love for Peruvians from what I had before. It’s different now because I’ve met them. Our job of praying isn’t over.”