Founder, Sheer Faith Ministries

Debbie has a mission to educate, encourage and bring healing and unconditional love to the mentally and emotionally ill and their families. More than 20 million people in the U.S. are dealing with serious depressive disorders, but depression isn't limited to our culture. Many more struggle with various anxiety disorders, and several million Americans have been diagnosed with various types of schizophrenia, the most serious of mental illnesses.

Families and friends labor to understand what their loved ones are going through and how to help them. Doctors don't always agree on treatments and patients often don't know how to get their questions answered. Pastors and fellow worshippers struggle to help the mentally ill in their midst, often alienating people who so desperately need to experience God's unconditional love and spiritual healing. For these and other reasons, Debbie sensed a need to establish an overarching ministry that would knit together the diverse elements needed for true healing. She works to accomplish this goal through her books, seminars and workshops, growth and support groups ( and a publicity and advocacy program.

Debbie, author of Outsmarting Depression: Surviving the Crossfire of the Mental Health System and From Depression To Wholeness: The Anatomy of Healing and two devotional healing journals, understands mental illness from the inside out. She suffered from major depressive disorder for more than a decade before finding healing through medical intervention, good Christian counseling and the love and support of family and friends. As a child, she watched her father and later a brother battle schizophrenia and substance abuse; she knows the heartache that mental illness brings to families. She knows that healing doesn't always happen, but unconditional love can accomplish great things.

Debbie speaks in churches, retreats or at community-sponsored events, and is comfortable in front of any audience, large or small. Topics she routinely addressees are family support issues, accountability for the individual seeking to overcome, effective church ministry to the mentally ill, effective treatments and counseling, choosing doctors wisely, medication management and lifestyle enhancements.

Debbie is a lay member of the American Association of Christian Counselors. She holds a BA degree from Sweet Briar College. She believes strongly in the effectiveness of lay ministry and has chosen not to become a licensed clinician, instead focusing the time she would spend in clinical counseling to pursue independent research and to advocate for mental health awareness on a larger scale. She does do some individual lay counseling as time permits.

Debbie is married to Russ Thurman, a retired Marine officer. They have two teenage daughters. Debbie served in the Marine Corps as a public affairs officer for eight years and has 25 years experience as a journalist, editing two national magazines and writing for a number of publications. She has also worked in corporate communications, as well as being a homeschool educator. She has been involved in many facets of ministry for 25 years.

Contact Debbie at P.O. Box 399, Monroe, VA 24574-0399. Phone (434) 929-8002/ Fax (434) 929-1059. E-mail her at

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