rebelling against low expectations

Deborah Drapper: A True Servant of God


Caution: The BBC3 documentary “Deborah 13: Servant of God” includes Deborah’s introduction to the “real world” of dance clubs and college parties, so viewer discretion is encouraged.

Deborah Drapper is a true rebelutionary. At thirteen, the homeschooled Christian girl from Dorset, England, has an inspiring passion for God and for evangelism. After getting an email about her from Anna in Ireland, I had to blog about it.

Fascinated — or maybe frightened — by her “sheltered” life and Christian faith, BBC filmmakers spent over 100 hours with her last summer for a one-hour documentary that aired in the UK earlier this month. They didn’t find what they expected.

In a review in the Daily Telegraph, TV critic Benji Wilson writes:

Whatever version of the fish-out-of-water conceit the producers were hoping for, what they got was far more compelling. They got Deborah. Steely-eyed and still, she was sensational. When we first met her, the producer, Linda Brusasco, asked, “Do you have a TV, do you have a mobile, do you watch The X Factor, do you go to Topshop?” and she replied, “No, no, no… and no.”

Deborah then bit right back, asking the producer, “Would you consider yourself to be a good person? Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, used God’s name in vain, coveted anything?” It was a “yep” to all. “So you’re a lying, thieving, coveting, blasphemer… Do you still think you’re a good person?”

Something to chew on there, and credit to Brusasco for including Deborah’s comeback. This film’s strength was that while it could have sneered at Deborah, instead it just observed her.

“I hope that it is a reflection of my life as I seek to be obedient to God’s Word, live my life under his direction, and share the truth with others,” she told Streetbrand Magazine, before the documentary aired. “And as others see how I live and share Christ, [I hope] they may be encouraged to live and share their Christian faith.”

Many people, even other Christians, might say that Deborah should “turn it down” a bit. But after watching the entire film, Brett and I agree with her older brother Matthew — the rest of us are the ones who need to “turn it up.”

We’re so proud of Deborah. Her faithfulness to “do hard things” and share the gospel — both privately and publicly, both alone and with her family — is the reason for the larger platform God has given her. She was never doing it to get attention. Instead, she did it because she truly loves God and believes the gospel.

Besides dealing with all the emails, criticism, and media requests that have come with the documentary (and besides school, chores, and working with her family), Deborah also has a terrific blog. Be sure to pay her a visit and let her know that you’re praying for her. And more than that, let’s all learn from her example.

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About the author

Alex and Brett Harris

are the co-founders of and co-authors of Do Hard Things and Start Here. They have a passion for God and for their generation. Their personal interests include politics, filmmaking, music, and basketball. They are both graduates of Patrick Henry College in Purcellville, Virginia.


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  • Way to go Deborah! I know that God is using your testimony to encourage others to have an extreme devotion to Christ. You are a precious and rare light “in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.” (Phil.2:16) May God bless!

  • I watched the first two parts last weekend. I was very inspired and encouraged to see how she is doing such a great job at sharing Christ. I sent her an email and I got an email back which was very cool! I pray that God will continue to bless her and to use her.

  • Oh, wow. This is incredibly pertinent to some discussions I’ve had even today on sharing the gospel. This girl is so bold–it’s convicting. Thanks for posting this one.

  • This girl is AMAZING! Her courage is far greater than I have at the moment. Very inspiring. Thanks for posting this

  • Hi all Deborah’s dad here.

    Bless you all for your encouragement. And yes we do know about Kent and have been in corispondence with him, Deborah especially.

    There is a lot more to it than straight forward evasion of Tax. I do not know the full story, but as I remember it, he took a stand against what he believed to be an unconstitutional tax. And is putting his life where his morals are.

    I hope I have his courage as this world get worse. He now has a great prison ministry with about 1/4 of his inmate in Bible study.


  • Wow! What a compelling and intriguing documentary. I was mesmerised throughout.

    I loved seeing a homeschooling family portrayed so beautifully in the media, and was challenged by Deborah’s passion and zeal.

    I did have a few concerns, however, in what I saw:

    It seemed to me that the witnessing was not motivated by love of God and love for the person’s soul, but instead by fear of eternal death in hell. I think it’s John Piper who says that our passion for mission should come from our esteem of God, not from our fear of hell. We don’t come to Him to save ourselves so much as because He deserves it. He is the creator who is worthy of all honour and praise. His work deserves our eternal gratitude and service.

    Jesus didn’t thrust questions upon strangers willy-nilly; He spoke among crowds who wanted to be there. Yes, He asked hard-hitting questions, but He frequently left those questions hanging in the air unanswered, not forcing a textbook response. He also demonstrated love by being among the people, loving them and serving them and caring for the details of their everyday lives. He rejected the platitudes (Christianese is what we’d call it now) of His day and spoke in real terms that jolted people out of their complacency. There was no tried-and-true method and no oft-repeated speeches.

    Finally, the concept of the puppet show made me uncomfortable in that it seemed like a sneaky way to share a Christian message. I found myself relating to the non-Christian mother who was offended that she took her children to a seemingly innocuous children’s puppet show but was instead surprised with a serious message. Of course, we all know that this particular serious message is one that everybody needs to hear, but I couldn’t help putting myself in that woman’s place: how would I feel if I took my small brother to a promised puppet show, only to discover that it was a foil for presenting Hindu or Buddhist beliefs to small children? Her distress was justified.

    I feel the same way when I see tracts printed on the back of counterfeit twenty dollar bills. Don’t *sneak* in the Gospel, friends. Offer it fair and square to people, or simply show them love and let them ask you about it.

  • That is a true rebelutionary!!

    What’s interesting about the message of the Rebelution is that it doesn’t allow us to look at someone like Deborah and to think, “Wow — if only I could be like that…” Rather it convicts us — “That is what I should be and could be like if I would do hard things.” It convicts us that what’s missing is passion for God — and that this is wholly our responsibility.

    How did Deborah become so passionate about God? The way we all do — by drawing close to Him, seeking Him first, reading His Word, thanking Him, praising Him, serving Him.

    How does she have such courage? Because she trusts Him. And because she fears Him. Think about it: If we can trust God with eternity, what is there to fear? And if we truly fear Him, what on earth is there to be timid about?

    I agree wholeheartedly with you, Alex — it is we who need to change. =) We are not called to be relevant, but to make Christ prevalent — for it is Jesus the world needs, not phony or timid Christians.

    Thank you for posting this. =)

  • I am so impressed and challenged by Deborah. I am a mother of 7 children, 2 are already married and one in the military. This is an incredible testimony and I thank you for putting this on your blog. We all need to be inspired by REAL Christianity. Keep up the great work!!!!

  • I don’t come from a large family myself but I’ve noticed that the kids in large families have a highly developed sense of self-sacrifice, like the Drappers. Obviously, this doesn’t happen across the board–some large families are a mess, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

    If we want to see the world revolutionized, God calls us to exactly what the Drappers have hit on. They’re wise and experienced in things intrinsically good and inexperienced in evil. A great thing to think about the next time we want to engage in something we know is next to worthless!

  • WOW!!!! First off, I think that Deborah’s witness is amazing. It is a blessing to me to see how open she is about her faith. I’ve only seen one episode, but I intend to watch all of them as soon as possible. God bless you, Deborah!!

  • That’s just incredible. I’m seventeen, and in my whole life I haven’t witnessed to as many people as she did in one single day. I’m ashamed of myself.
    I can’t really agree with everything that was said or done here, but this is certainly a reminder to let our light shine before men.
    And to Katie – Mr. Hovind’s being in prison is wrong. Though I think he could have gone about things a bit differently, he shouldn’t be in prison for not paying taxes. I’d have a hard time explaining it, though. And it’s unjust that he’s been sentenced to more time in prison than some people get for molesting children, etc.

  • Thank you for posting this!
    Deborah and I have a lot in common, I have heard of Britney Spears, but I could never pick her out of a celebrity magazine!
    I think that it is very important to witness to the lost, but I do not think that we should focus on scaring them because they are headed for Hell. Rather we should help them to understand that if they continue in their sin they will be forever separated from God and His awesome love.
    Witnessing and Christianity itself should be focused on the love that God has for us and not the fear that we have for Him. Yes, it is important to realize that Hell exists and is a horrible place reserved for sinners who have turned their back on God, but salvation is about God’s mercy and grace which has been offered to us through His amazing, unconditional love!

    I came to Christ because I recognized the power of His love and the fact that I could never be worthy of it, not because I was afraid of spending eternity in Hell.

    Alex, Brett, just tell me if I am wrong, but I would really like to know what you think of this and whether or not you agree, or understand anything that I have said! = )

  • What a strong, courageous girl!

    Shades of Jonathan Edwards, though. I’m not sure that’s the best focus. Some of the things she said I didn’t think were put as clearly as they might have been, but I trust her technique will mature over time.

    I found it interesting to watch her evangelization method. I think in this country, it would come across a lot worse, because the religious climate is very different. She appeared to be meeting primarily atheists…whereas I, without even seeking them out, have come across hardline agnosticism, polytheism, pseudo-Christianity, and paganism. Her approach would need to be different for people who already have a solid foundation in another religious tradition, or who falsely believe themselves already to be Christians. I expect over time she’ll discover that.

    I’m really glad, though, to hear about someone who’s so certain of who she is and what she believes! And I agree with a lot that she said.

  • Way to go Deborah! You kept your head very well throughout, and I pray that the Lord’s name be glorified through your witness. I will try to remember to pray for you, as I am sure that there are many who will be opposed to your message (and thus to you as an individual). Keep it up! 😀

  • Wow that is awsome! Way to go Deborah! What an incredible light and witness for the Lord in this dark world! She challenges me to “turn-it-up.” What an incredible girl used mightily by the Lord! wow

  • This is Amazing!! Or should I say what God is doing through this girl is AMAZING!! God bless you Deborah; I pray someday I will have the courage you have. You are an inspiration to many people.

    A sister in Christ,
    Sarah Beth

  • Wow! This testimony just inspires me to not be silent about my faith. We should not be afraid to tell people about Christ, even if they get offended. If we can avoid offending them, that would be great. But even Jesus offended many he talked to. Our hearts should be driven by our love for God. So “how can we be silent, when fire burns inside us? (BarlowGirl)” It is time to take a stand.

    Fellow sister in Christ,
    Stephanie D.

  • I think this is wonderful but we need to be careful of legalism. I mean how u supposed to spread da gospel bein mostly isolated? And practically no friends? I would die or become brainless if i had no peers. Wats wrong wit godly friends that are near ur age? And ppl r different. Some kids mebbe should be homeschooled mebbe some are kids who should go to public school. I am homeschooled myself but i have godly friends who go to public school.


  • First off, wow. Her endless joy and energy is amazing, and how strong her faith is at that age.

    I do question the way she witnesses to people. Throughout the whole thing, I was wondering whether it seemed the best way to do it. (I watched all 6 of the videos) Like, I’m going to witness to someone if it comes up, and with God’s help I am going to be a light to them – but it seems that always trying to talk about it isn’t going to win them to Christ. One of my good friends said that before she came a Christian, a lot of her friends kept telling her about Jesus and Christianity and she just didn’t want to because they kept telling her about it. It wasn’t until she met some Christians who simply loved her and became and example for her that she became a Christian.

    Then again, things may be different there than they are in the US. I’m definitely amazed by her boldness and zeal.

  • I am left speachless! This leaves me with a renewed passion. It is wonderful to know that there are people and girls about my age trying to serve God that strongly. I am going to do mission work in Ethiopia in May and this has made me all the more excited about telling others about Christ! I can’t thank you enough for posting this! I loved it!

  • That is really neat! It is so wonderful to see God get the glory on public television!

    About the evangelism thing, I did not see all the videos to see what you all are talking about, but I did want to remind you of this as you discuss it. Paul says in Phil. 1:15-18: “Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of rivalry, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” My point is that the goal of evangelism is the the gospel, the approach can vary. If Paul could rejoice in the gospel being preached insincerely, I think it is better to rejoice in the proclamation of the the gospel than criticize the format. That is, providing the true gospel is preached. Not that there cannot be constructive imput, its just that we should rejoice more that, however imperfectly, the gospel was preached to the nation of England. I hope this doesn’t offend anyone, it is meant to spur one another on. 🙂

  • Thank you Megan, I had forgotten about that verse!
    No I am not offended, I appreciate the chance to clarify with myself.
    I must say though that even Paul was leaning toward preaching the Gospel in love, and I would have to agree that if I was unsaved I would prefer being witnessed to in a loving way and not scared into becoming a Christian.
    Thank you again, God Bless!

  • Argh, sorry I got that name wrong! I always get them confused because they have the same initials and they’re both creation scientists.

    Kent Hovind has some funny (as in wrong) ideas about the government. I also listened to recordings of his calls from prison. He sounds like a nut. I don’t know the details either, except for the summary on Wikepedia, but it looks like he tried several ways to get out of paying income taxes.

    Now we all hate income tax, and that may not be what our founding fathers originally intended, but it IS the law, and we have to render to Caesar what is Caesar’s, and Kent Hovind did not. If it was really about changing the system, he could have done it by protesting or proposing a bill. Or running for office and making changes himself. But he decides to just not pay taxes! So that makes me think it really was about getting out of taxes, you know?

    Sorry this is so long. I do want to say that although Kent Hovind is a crook, I hope that God is still using his ministry. It looks like He is. God strikes straight blows with crooked sticks.

  • Way to go Deborah!

    I think that she is doing a great job in spreading the Christian faith; she’s fearless! This reminds me that I am supposed to be faithful and depend on God when trying to minister to non-believers. Deborah seems like a strong Christian, and appears to be untouched by the world (but definitely not naive). I encourage her to persevere, but some tips to make her testimonies appeal more to unconverted ears- maybe mentioning the Lord’s love, mercy, grace, and never-failing forgiveness might sound nicer than just an escape from hell; telling people about hell and what happens after life to non-christians is necessary, but I think that telling people about God’s wonderful aspects and informing them that it isn’t too late to change their behaviour might make people more willing to accept Christianity. God Bless, and keep doing a good job!

  • I’m 17 and I think that it’s amazing that at 13, someone is all ready witnessing to the faith on TV. I know that when I was 13 all I was trying to do was live through another day.
    Even now I find it hard to even say God bless you to clerks at Wal-Mart. But I would love to be bolder.
    Thank you for being a bold example for God, Deborah. It means more than you know.

  • As I was watching this, I was thinking of how caught up people get with their day to day lives. We worry about our schoolwork, and wether we can live up to expectations of us, and what others think of us. We worry so much that we forget to slow down (I know I do!). Deborah is 13 years old, yet she’s on public television boldly sharing her faith! I think that is more than I could do at 17! She is truly an amazing person.
    Thank you Deborah, for your amazing testimony! And thank you Alex and Brett for posting this.

  • Katie: Don’t worry about it! But let’s please not turn this discussion into one about Kent Hovind — that’s not the point of the blog post or even a major part of the documentary. Thanks!

  • This girl’s story is so amazing. I think of how sometimes I’m afraid of speaking up in school about stuff that God clearly says is right and wrong, and then I watched this, and it amde me think, about the guts that this girl has, to go “into college life” and try and save these people. This is so inspiring… Thanks Deborah,and keep up the good work! 🙂

  • Wow. I can’t but help agree with Deborah’s brother on needing to “turn it up”. However, there seemed to be a lack of joy with her. I’m sure there are times to use hell in witnessing, etc., but there are also times when someone just needs to know of God’s overwhelming love for them. I look forward to hearing about her in a few more years when she has gotten older and become more mature.
    An amazing story. Definitely is causing me to reflect and think about life as a Christian.

  • Wow… That was truly inspirational. Go Deborah! She is such a stong Christian witness that puts me to shame! God bless her!

  • Deborah is really encouraging. The boldness, and innocence she has is one that we all should be striving for as men, and woman of God. I admire that she is so submissive to God because she has made that personal choice to love him. I love the unity, and support she has within her family as well, and in that the very character of God is being glorified & the importance of a faithful family is represented. God used her family to truly show me the strength he has in us when we all under one roof are striving to follow him, individually, and together as one.

  • Amanda: Bear in mind, that “lack of joy” was the message the filmmakers were trying to get across. Out of 100 hours of footage, it probably wasn’t too hard to weight it in that direction. If Deborah has a complaint about the documentary, it’s that it cut out all the joy, love, and grace. If you read her blog, you’ll notice that she really isn’t morose, reclusive, or obsessed with hell.

  • I was very sweet to see the way Deborah and her brother interact; it makes me wish I had an older brother too! 🙂

    I think my favorite part of the movie was when Deborah went out to do street evangelism; that is the kind of stuff I want to get involved in. In the early 1980s my mom lived in England (in Blackpool) for a few years and did street ministry along with other people from church.

    I think Deborah’s approach was really good; it takes a lot of courage to share Jesus with people. I don’t see a problem with making it VERY clear to the people she is witnessing to that those who don’t repent of their sins will spend eternity in hell. I could see the grief she felt thinking about all of the people who go through life without a thought that they would spend eternity in Hell. Obviously I can’t read hearts, but from what I gathered from the things Deborah said, her motivation is concern for that person’s eternal soul. It is actually that approach to witnessing that got people like my mom saved. She had been raised in a religious church, but when someone told her about the return of Jesus and what hell is like, the thought of spending eternity in hell scared her enough to realize she needed to get right with God.

    I loved the question to Mr. Drapper that BBC proposed regarding what he and his wife are preparing their kids for, and that his response was “for eternity”! 🙂 Great response!
    I truly believe that that documentary will make a huge impact on people who need to hear about the gospel and to get them thinking about eternity.

    Thank you for posting this documentary! It was certainly a blessing to watch!

  • Alex,

    Thanks for pointing that out. I keep forgetting that factor in things like this. Thanks again.
    In Christ…

  • After watching this, I think u guys were right in that it baffled what the filmmakers were really trying to get across (as it was written in the way that they edited the whole thing): trying to make her and her family look like nut-cases. I think they (the production team) became observers as time went on as opposed to the ones trying to direct the scenarios and the conflict….they didn’t get as much of that as they wanted….

    And while I disagree with some of the families convictions (drinking as a sin…that’s another story), I am glad that overall I agree with the family…I love how the world thinks families like this are strange, yet I (being raised in a homeschooled family brought up on the Bible, growing up around similar families….just with fewer siblings) don’t find any of it strange at all….

    I think, overall, I find myself in Matthews shoes (agreeing with what Danielle was saying eariler) in seeing that Deborah see’s reality, but probably should start putting just as much emphasis on heaven as she does going to hell.
    With that said, just watching her behavior towards the university students, (while I did notice a bit of discomfort…especially at the club..don’t blame her a bit for that…)
    I am encouraged that she did show love towards them, even if they didn’t understand her views…and that’s pretty mature for a 13 year old…

    So, to finish off, I am more then very encouraged by her courage to even speak up about her beliefs and to see that she has a set mission in her heart that, I have no doubt, God will lead her with as she grows…

  • Wow! That is really challenging! I certainly need to “turn it up!” I have yet to come in contact with very many unchurched people like that, but it does make me think about those who I do see. I know every day I’m surrounded by people who have heard the message of Jesus all their lives and aren’t saved. And I’m in a ministry that provides me with the opportunity to talk to them about just that at least once every three weeks. And so often I’m timid and don’t know what to say. What am I thinking? God has saved me from a meaningless life lived only for myself and my pleasure, bringing myself pain, and then from an eternity of torment, to living a life for the glory of Himself and to draw others to his Kingdom and all I do is worry that I might offend someone because they’ve gone to church longer than I’ve been alive? What is that? I’m more worried about myself and what people might think of me than their souls and what God will think of me. How awful! I want to be a bold witness for Christ! While I don’t agree completely with everything Deborah said, I am encouraged and challenged by her boldness in her faith. But I also am not sure that every time you see an unsaved person it’s best to push the Gospel on them. Tell them, yes tell them! But live it through example. “People don’t reject the Christ they hear from you, they reject the Christ they see in you.” We should be like the nameless little servant girl in the story of Naaman in… I think 1 Kings. All it says about her was that she was a little maid who told her master about the prophet. Why would they believe her? She was a slave! They believed her, I think, because she had a life that backed up what she said so when she talked about God, they knew by her life example that it was true. That’s how I want to be. By God’s grace, a living testimony of the Gospel, and then bold in proclaiming the Gospel. “A message prepared in a mind touches minds, a message prepared in a heart touches hearts, but a message prepared in a life changes lives.” (I’m awful about not knowing who I’m quoting, but these are some of my favorite quotes, often used by the pastor in our ministry.) Anyway, that was my little speech. I just pray that God will give me the grace to walk by the Spirit daily so that I may be a living testimony of His power in my life, and that He will also give me boldness to proclaim Christ and His truth. Way to go Deborah! You’re an inspiration and encouragement.

  • Great testimony! If the reporter asked me if I knew Britney Spears, I would ask her, “Why do I need to know her? What admirable thing is she known for? Do you know Phyllis Wheatley? Joni Eareckson Tada? Corrie Ten Boom?” Why is it so important that we know Victoria Beckham? Why is important that we attend parties? Can the reporter tell us why it is important that we know that other 13-year-olds are having sex? I’m proud of Deborah and I know the Lord will use her mightily.

  • It’s hard to believe Deborah’s only 13! Way to go, Deborah – you’re an INSPIRATION for us all! 🙂

  • Deborah is, by far, the most encouraging person that I have ever seen or heard of! God has given her the gift of purity! She is what I would consider a worldy virgin! Keep up the amazing testimony Deborah! Keep following Christ! Keep your flame! Keep your fire!
    God Bless!

  • I know by God’s grace, he can keep working on us and make us faithful to fear God, not man. After all, Peter denied Jesus when Jesus was being interrogated, and confused the gospel with legalism because of other men (Galatians).. but in the end, he wanted to be crucified upside-down since he said he was not worthy of dying in the same position as his saviour. If God can do this to Peter, God can work in us weak creatures so that we can share his name boldly and unashamedly, too, for his glory. (that’s what I’m hoping in, in light of my failure, anyway!) 🙂

  • Deborah definitely put me to shame with her bold witnessing. I pray that I can do that hard thing with joy and courage when opportunities arise.
    I hope that the people commenting on this blogpost will go over to another blog… Deborah’s! She’s been getting a lot of mixed reviews and some antagonism, and I think would appreciate a bunch of young Christians letting her know about the impact her documentary made on them…
    Soli Deo Gloria!

  • Hey there,

    This Is Becky< Deborah’s eldest sister!! Wow you guys! Thanks for the positives comments! It’s so exciting to read about others who are following the Lord and who have enjoyed the film.

    A comment earlier sad that Debbie seemed sad. She’s not!!! She was told not to smile.. They thouhgt it would make the movie more shocking I guess. Also we have to remember they filmed over 100 hours which is really only a small part of her life and then edited it to just show what they wanted you to see. They flimed her with her friends, and out and about with other chrisitans. Hey they even flimed my dauhter Dedecation service… (and got in the way I might add hee hee) but didn’t show it, so it is not a true representaion of her in main respects.

    However Thanks for writing to say how it has encouraged you all. You have no idea How much of an encouragement you all are to her to write these thing especially after all the hard and nasty comments she is getting on her blog!!

    Please do visit and try to help answer some of these comments against God

    God Bless You all

    Dare 2 Dream!

    Becky xxx

  • Megan M, I was wondering about that wording too. I don’t want to speak for him but I would think he means “inexperienced in the ‘ways of the world'”?

    No offense to Tyler, but I’d pick a different term in the future! 🙂

  • what an awesome message you have deborah. Don’t let anyone take away your innocence. You belong to God and i’m so happy to know about another one of my sisters!!! god bless you, girly. You are beautiful, inside, and out! =) luv u!

  • Thank you for posting on Deborah! The documentary was very encouraging. I pray that God will continue to work in her life as she seeks Him.

  • Hello to All: I read this blog often, as I admire the essence of Alex and Brett’s “Do Hard Things” movement, even though I am not a teenager and do not necessarily agree with Alex’s and Brett’s views on many subject matters. Alex and Brett, you have inspired me to hold myself and the others around me to high standards. My thanks for the inspiring example you set in calling attention to and rejecting societies low expectations for many people, not just teenagers.

    I have never posted here because I do not adhere to a contemporary evangelical Christian worldview, and I understand that this site is primarily designed to support people who do adhere to an evangelical Christian worldview.

    However, since some of the posts implicitly present the question, “what is the best way to evangelize to non-Christians,” perhaps an outsider’s view would be appreciated in this instance. I would also like to address the apparent concern of many people that BBC portrayed Deborah and her family in an unflattering way.

    My first reaction…is wow. In addition to being highly intelligent, well read, and well spoken, Deborah has movie star media presence and charisma that’s off the charts. I attended Sunday School, so I am familiar with biblical stories including the story of Deborah. I always wondered what the biblical Deborah would seem like in real life. I think I have my answer!

    Respecting whether or not talking about hell and other serious subject matters is the best way to approach non Christians – I would much rather have an existential discussion about what it means to be “a good person” with Deborah than listen to people who approach me and others with tracts and the message, “Jesus loves you, guys.” In fact, there was some controversy at my college campus when people were saying “Jesus loves you” to Jewish students even after the students had identified themselves as being Jewish and indicated that being told, “Jesus loves you,” was offensive to them.

    The point being that evangelizing of any type will be controversial in a modern world that ephasizes that being respectful of the views of others precludes actively trying to change someone else’s perspective. Attempting to convert people to a religion while also respecting their boundaries and their privacy may always be a difficult balancing act. I think that Deborah walks this tight rope very well because she’s willing to listen to the viewpoints of others, as she indicated during the interaction in which the two women were talking with her about respecting other people’s viewpoints.

    However, I, a non Evangelical Christian/type of person Deborah is attempting to reach, have been sufficiently inspired by Deborah to share her BBC documentary with the many other non Evangelical Christians I know. I believe that Deborah exemplies the best aspects of the home-school movement, in addition to just generally being an extraordinary person. I doubt very much that I would be doing that if BBC had emphasized Deborah’s interactions with other kids her age, smiling, or taking a less direct approach to evangelizing.

    Deborah, if you’re reading this post, I look forward to hearing more about you in the future, as I’m sure that, Deborah 13: A Servant of God, will not be your only documentary.

    To Mr. and Mrs. Drapper: If you write a parenting book I will be the first person to read it. Your capacity to teach your children to think critically and trust them to interact with the world, rather than completely sheltering them from the world, is what makes Deborah such an extraordinary person, in my view. Deborah’s not just running around making empty statements she has not completely thought through or researched. She eptimozes Dr. Abert’s Mohler’s state

    Deborah, in my opinion, the world does not need people like you to “take it down a notch.”

  • Sorry, I hit the submit button prematurely. It looks like the only casualty was my reference to Dr. Mohler’s, emphasis on intelligent Christian conversation. I think Deborah has the concept of presenting “intelligent Christian conversation” down pat.

  • That was an amazing documentary – thanks so much, Alex and Brett, for posting it here, otherwise I may not have found it.

    All I can really say is “Wow!!” I feel so challenged! I want to say a big thankyou to the Drapper family for allowing this program to filmed. Your daughter has become an incredible inspiration to hundreds of people. 🙂

  • I’m from the UK and I watched it on BBC iPlayer last weekend. It just so happens that I brought up a discussion about this at my youth group weekend away – Deborah is so fearless and ‘on fire’ for God…if I’m honest I felt ashamed to watch it. But it just goes to show that if you take away all the material desires that ”teenagers” sterotypically want, God will always be there. Very challenging, and very moving. And it helped me to realise that what other people think of me makes little difference, it’s God’s ideas that count.

  • Dear Alex:

    I hope Deborah sees my post, too. I’d also like to share some additional thoughts with the you and Brett from an “outsider’s” perspective. I’ll e-mail them to you.



  • Janna,

    Thanks so much for sharing those thoughts. I can very much relate with where you say you are right now, as I have struggled with my faith in recent months. My life has been moving at a rapid pace and I have faced many new challenges I never expected to face. Part of it is just the nature of growing up and getting older. Anyway, I appreciate your comment and I hope you will continue to voice your thoughts and opinions here at the Rebelution.

  • A few things stuck out to me while I was watching this documentary…
    I’ve seen so many people use the Ten Commandments for witnessing, but I have never seen someone include himself (or herself) as a wretched sinner just like those he (or she) is reaching out to. It is very disarming to have someone admit his own faults, when you are strongly disinclined to admit your sinfulness. But so often we Christians begin to be self-righteous and proud because we’ve chosen to follow God, when in reality we are completely undeserving of grace. Deborah said several times throughout the documentary that she was a sinner in need of God’s grace. Her emotion when she talked of her Redeemer at the end of the documentary was touching as well. How many of us glibly thank God for saving us? We take it so much for granted. May each of us grow to love God more and more.

  • Wow. I am amazed at how confident Deborah is! I am a year older, and honestly, I am nowhere near as strong in my faith as she is. It makes me kind of angry to see the way she is portrayed, though. I liked someone’s comment about portraying her family as ‘nut-cases’. She is a beautiful, upstanding, Godly young woman, and they try to make her out to be some sheltered, hell-obsessed person! I could go on about that, but I won’t!
    I have the unfortunate “privilege” to be able to recognize Victoria Beckham, although I doubt about Britney Spears…… I do not idolize celebs like these – I honestly don’t know why anyone would. Most of them are even bigger nutcases than the Drapper family!
    Go Deborah!

  • What do you feel about Deborah witnessing other people?
    Personally, I would respect a Christian much more if they kept their religion within their personal life, family life and Church.
    I think it is greatly disrespectful to press your beliefs on other people.

  • I’ve only watched some of the videos so far, but this is barely believable today. I mean, I don’t live in Britain, but from what I know, it’s much like America. Comparatively minor doctrinal issues aside, this is, again, absolutely amazing. One thing that particularly deserves comment, is how… well, just how bizarre this is today. Anyone who will be watching this on this website would surely already realize… but people like this are just weird. And that is totally cool. I mean, if I was to spend any time with the family, I’m sure I would become embroiled in theological disputes… but they would be attempts to become more “unified in the truth” instead of… well, what you see all the time. Pseudo-Christianity. Mush, containing a few of the external appearances of Christianity, but without the core, without the fundamentals which make it real Christianity. And that is why this is so cool. It is a well documented, well presented example of a family that really sets forth the Bible as the fundamental.

  • Oh. Hi Deborah. I just posted my comment and saw your name. The thought never crossed my mind that you would be reading these comments. But now that I do think of it, I think… “Yeah. Of course.” I can understand if you wouldn’t have time, but I would love to speak (communicate would probably be a better word…) a bit if you can.

  • Joel: I’m not (sure) that was Deborah- as the link goes to someone else’s blog and Deborah has her own blog. ( But I’m sure she’s reading these. 🙂

    I was very encouraged by Deborah’s forthrightness and selflessness. As her brother said- so often we don’t share the gospel not because we don’t think we should but because we are afraid of what people will think of us. … = not a good reason. 😀 Christ says that if the world hated him they will hate us as well. This world is not our home. Oh, that we could be so on fire for the Lord that we forgot our silly notions of self-image. Or, even better, that we understood who we are in Christ so well that we could not help but be his witnesses in every situation.

    As for the “lack of joy”/”lack of love” mentioned… I noticed it as well but, again, they took 100 hours of film for a 1 hour documentary. They told her not to smile. And is it not true love to care so much about a person that you are willing to tell them the truth- no matter how hard it is or how bad it will make you look? Deborah was very respectful in how she talked to people. Not judgmental or rude at all- but open to discussion. I’m glad they showed her with her brother’s friends- she didn’t come off as sheltered, shocked, and shook but rather a sweet, pure girl who is in the world but not of it. 🙂

    Again, you go Deborah! God bless you!

  • I loved the way the family was so integrated. It is my hope that my future family is as integrated as the Drapper family was.

    Although I loved watching the family interact, I do have concerns.

    For instance, I found that they only read the KJV. My own father grew up like that, and has found that the KJV only doctrine isn’t a doctrine given by God. I also found that Deborah’s approach to salvation was a little too judgmental. The message of salvation isn’t about our sin, it is about forgiveness of sin. There lies a stark contrast between the two. Nevertheless, it was awesome to see the unfaltering courage of a 13 year old.

    Another startling issue was the subjection the Deborah went through. I find it horrific that she went to the places she did. Regardless of the ideas of the film makers, she should not have gone through what she went through.

    Another problem I find is that, to me at least, her brother seemed to be falling into the ways of the world. None of his room mates share his beliefs, and it is obvious that he has danced numerous times at the club. I don’t want to judge, I am merely concerned.

    I am sorry to the Drappers if they find me judgmental in any way, I only voice my concern.

    God bless.

  • Thanks, Fiore. I found her blog through a different link and didn’t bother clicking on that one.

    Also, to Benji Brannan, a bit above my first comment:
    I’ve heard this sort of thing before, and I really don’t think your comment is all that well thought out. I have two reasons for saying that. First, if someone really believes in hell, how are they a better person if they keep quiet about it. If you knew someone had cancer, but didn’t want to hear about it… it would still be loving to tell them… Second, it’s impossible to hold Christian beliefs and practice “in the privacy of your own home.” Part of Christian beliefs and practice is the act of going out and proclaiming. A Christianity that doesn’t proclaim is that much less Christian.

  • A precious soul in the hands of Almighty God. I know some in Dorset UK who is exactke like Deborah; holy saints that have Jesus in their hearts, and a love for the Word of God. It’s all quite amazing; the intensity, the purity, and the love they have for lost souls that are going to hell for all eternity. This world needs more Deborah’s who have the courage to live for Jesus in this evil wicked world.

  • I wanted to first thank Alex and Brett for bringing my attention to these videos.
    I would not have heard about them otherwise.
    I watched the first two and then went and got my (older) 18 year old brother to come watch them with me. He doesn’t get on the Rebelution site but I hoped that he would be blessed by the videos.
    His response was not what I had hoped it would be. I guess by seeing the varied responces on this series of blogs I understand now that Debborah’s life will affect everyone differently.
    I think the beautiful thing is what she said herself-she just tries to live her life.
    Debborah encouraged me to keep living to show others that not only do we have purpose in our dying-we have purpose in our living.
    In my experience talking to people who want nothing to do with our God (Muslim, Wiccan, Seiks, Agnostics) they can’t argue with the fact that I have a reason to live.
    Not only do I not have a list of requirements to fulfill, I can’t do anything to change the way my God loves me. No other religion believes in a God of grace.
    Our God of grace made it so no one has to live without him for all of eternity.
    That’s the worst thing about Hell-no one has to go.
    God gave us Jesus to bridge the great divide.
    If we go to Hell it is our choice.
    We who have been redeemed are to do exactly what Deborah is doing.
    Going out to speak where the people are, “Make straight a highway for our God.”
    Our world is full of dry places void of hope and goodness.
    Blessed are people like Deborah who go to those deserts and cry out for the souls of the lost. Deborah your reaching out is never in vain. I thank God for your voice.

  • I think that while watching the documentary, it is important to keep in mind that it is filmed by a secular company, and that the Media will never agree with Jesus. You can talk all you want about any other “religious person”, you can even mention God, but JESUS, is rejected. So, while watching, many things can come to your mind that you don’t agree with, but after all, it is edited–to the filmakers purpose.

    What we need to do, is like Barnabas, who “saw the grace of God, and was glad” (Acts 11:22). It takes courage to preach the gospel the way she does (believe me, I’ve done it!), and there I see the grace of God.

  • Deboarah,

    My friend Melissa, Jon, and Allison live in Dorset, UK world like to go soul winning with you! Would that be OK? Melissa is a strong Christian such as yourself, and has that burning desire to win the lost, but are very timid, and shy. (23). She has been converted for over a year and has read the KJV 1611 AV 4 times through from cover to cover. With a small dedicated group revival could once again sweep across England, and maybe even this wicked American Babylon, Sodom & Gomorrah United Stated.
    Art Wilmoth I would like the copy of your tape to post on facebook.
    Please E-mail
    [email protected] (Facebook)

  • Very good!! I thought that was very inspirational. What a very brave girl. I know two people from England. One of my favorite parts of the movie is when she and her brother were talking about the “Big Bang” and she says that, “someone would need help to believe such foolish stupid stuff”. WOW that is really all I can say!!!!!
    Phil 4:13

  • This was great! I’m a homeschool graduate, and I could really relate to the Drapper family. I also love staying at home (though our scenery isn’t quite as beautiful as that!), so I didn’t see anything really strange about that. I love being with my family so much, and I never really feel lonely with them. I went to public school until fourth grade, and I had so little in common with the kids there, even back then. I would have hated to go during the high school years. One thing that has helped me develop Godly friends and acquaintances is the homeschool groups that we’re a part of. Do they have homeschool groups in England? How many people homeschool over there?

    One thing that disturbed me was the fact that her older brother (Matthew?) apparently had been going to these clubs and parties for a while. I saw that he tried to act right while he was there, and that’s good, but was it necessary to go at all? He might have less friends, but is that really our business in life? Eek, sorry, I don’t mean to judge unfairly (a documentary’s not a very good way to get to know someone) – he knows his heart best. That part just stuck out for me. I find that, even as I’ve grown up a bit, I still don’t have much in common with a lot of my peers, many of whom were “raised” in public schools. I don’t like the long drive commuting back and forth to college every day, but what I do love is knowing that every night I can come home to my family and that, no matter what bad or strange things happened that day, I can recharge and get energized for the next day.

    Deborah, I think you and I would be friends. 🙂 We’d at least have a lot of stuff in common. Keep doing good works and hard things, and may you grow in favor with God and man.

  • Wow that was an amazing story! i go to a christian school and hang out with youth group kids all the time and am even afraid to talk about the gospel with them. This girl is a true christian and its amazing to see her contentment in Christ and that she is not moved in any way by the way people think of her. This girl has Jesus!

  • i Certainly admire deborah’s passion for Christ – this is amazing to see in someone so young and yeah, it half scared me and half reminded me to turn it up.

    i do agree that she seems to be motivate primarily by hell rather than a realisation of the depth of Gods love though

  • wow that was a great video. it really inspires me to be more bold and stand out in the world, and not blend in. what a powerful testimony!!

  • I watched the video on Deborah and felt very sad for her and her siblings. It’s completely irresponsible for parents to ‘brainwash’ their children and home teach them. Quite honestly I believe that they would be better out of that prison. Jesus does not want us to be isolated from the world, no one is going to listen to you blabbering on about the gospel. if you really want to be like Jesus, go out there and help people who don’t have families or are disabled or just plain lonely. Deborah is brainwashed and needs help. I will pray for her.

  • That was convicting – and such a blessing!

    There are many things I could relate to but her passion, though propelled by an abnormal sensitivity to hell (I’ll let each of you decide whether or not we should all find our neighbor’s fate similarly concerning, and if her fear for others should not be so abnormal), is something I have not ever reached in all my years of being a Christian, witness and even a Bible camp counselor.

    Also it made me think of the times when I first saw different things at different times in my life and I’m now thinking (Casting Crown’s “Slow Fade” once again comes to mind) that I need to look at my world once again from the innocent and pure eyes of a child – unscathed by the world.

    Thank you so much for posting on here as I had previously attempted to view it on the BBC’s website and was told I couldn’t because us USers don’t have access to it all the way over here :).

  • wow. When I wached that I thought “What a true servent of God!” I am homeschool and about to go to school and now I know what is out there. Wow!

  • As a homeschooler myself, I was so encouraged to see and hear the Drapper’s positive presentation of what “sheltered” Christains really can do for God. Some of m friends find entertainment in finding all the stuff I don’t do; I love Debora’s response; I’ll have to use it next time. I also like the ’round TUIT’.

  • The more and more I watch this movie (I watched it a few times)the more and more I am amazed at her. It not only takes courage to do what she is doing, but also faith, dicipline. and a real relationship with God. Wow! She is amazing!


  • “It’s completely irresponsible for parents to ‘brainwash’ their children and home teach them.”
    Ella, Ella! You say you’ll pray for the Drapper’s, but are you praying that they’ll do God’s will, or just that they’ll conform to the lifestyle that YOU think is right? If you have time, I would encourage you to research a little more about homeschooling before you dismiss it as “brainwashing”. I have seen so many of my Christian peers come out of public school walking, talking, dressing, and acting like their unsaved friends. Yes, of course it is possible to come out of public school just fine (just as it is possible to come out of homeschooling not fine), but that lifestyle was not right for me, just as it is apparently not a good fit for many families… including the Drappers. So, please, don’t judge them so harshly.

  • Is anybody having trouble seeing the movies on this blog?
    Maybe it is just my computer, but I can’t see an of the Utube movies.


  • Ella, I have to agree with Sarah. I am homeschooled and I am by no means brainwashed. My parents have given me the chance to see the world and live for Jesus myself. I am a Christian because I want to be. I am homeschooled because I want to be. Nothing wrong with public school, but like Sarah, I have seen WAY to many “Christians” end up acting like the world because they are with worldly people for so many hours of the day. I honestly didn’t want to be under such influence everyday. Being homeschooled isn’t a way to sit back and do little school work and have it easy. For me it is a way to “do the hard thing.” Yet, it is the most enjoyable thing ever, certainly not a prison!
    God has given me other means of telling others about Him.
    I am not by any means stuck off away. I do mission work all over the world. If Deborah feels that is what God wants her to do then I am impressed by her strength to stand up.
    It doesn’t matter if you are homeschooled or public schooled, it is just important we are doing the best we can to live for God and please Him!

  • I totally agree!! For me, homeschooling is a way to avoid a lot of peer pressure, while also strengthening my patience, integrity, relationships with family, and learn God’s sovereignty and control over my life. Even after attending Chrisian School through 4th grade, it wasn’t until my 4th year of homeschooling that God finally brought my proud, self-sufficient, self-willed heart to Himself and saved me. He used my inability to control my circumstances to change my life. Without that, I’d still be headded straight to hell. Praise God that He straightned me out!

  • Personally i do not agree with the bible but i am impressed by her amount of faith, though she does contradict herself a few times.
    The one thing i strongly disagree on is homosexuality. Her views disgust me on this matter, speaking as a bisexual teenager i know i was born this way and i was not corrupted by the devil.
    Good luck in the real world Deborah

  • Lucy,

    Why do you not agree with the bible?
    Do you not believe that Jesus Christ saved you of your sins, and the whole worlds?

    I hope God opens up your heart and you learn to love and obey Him.

  • Firstly, I’m an atheist.

    Secondly, I was mesmerised throughout the entirety of this documentary.

    Deborah is both an incredibly sharp and amazingly strong-willed individual, and I have nothing but respect for her. That said, I find it so sad that – from my perspective – her life will now be such an incredible waste, as she could offer so much more to this world than what her narrow-minded religious belief system has made of her. I say this apropos all theism, however, because any ‘group’ that has rules that are so black and white (that therefore have unquestionable limits that one MUST believe) leaves no room open for the potential unknown. And there is much in this universe that is unknown and will contradict many religious beliefs, but many of these unknowns are necessary for society’s development, survival and truly coming to terms with each other on a global scale.

    I’ve written this message for two reasons.

    1) I wanted to remind all of the Christians on this blog that the world is incredibly diverse, and while it’s great to be around like-minded people, I hope you surround yourself with other individuals too who – while they may not believe as you do religiously – might still offer you something else which is beneficial to your life.

    2) I naturally don’t harbour any resentment towards any person, and this documentary reminded me specifically why I can never hate theists. For me, we’re all just people, and a person like Deborah is to be applauded for at least living her life to the best of her abilities and in lieu of what she regards to be the truth. I’ve had Christians friends wishing me the best, quite often in the past, and now I wish you – yes ‘you’ the one reading this – all the best also.

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rebelling against low expectations

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