April Rodgers

Have you ever met someone for the first time and instantly knew your life would forever be changed for the better? That is precisely the feeling that I had when I met Dr. Debra Douglas, affectionately known as “Pearl.”

After returning from a ministry meeting to the Philippines, my travels had left me feeling exhausted and a little under the weather. However, I was scheduled to attend the wedding of a close friend, and I didn’t want to miss the celebration. So, I strapped on my dancing shoes, and much to my delight, Deb was there officiating the ceremony.

Although I knew of Deb from my seminary days, our paths had not officially crossed until this particular evening. As the reception began to get underway, I made a beeline for her table and awkwardly introduced myself, not thinking through what I would say, only knowing that I wanted to meet this special woman.

And, oh, was she special! Her ministry work reached far and wide from counseling families to leading women’s ministry to rescuing countless women from the claws of sex-trafficking. As we chatted that evening, Deb told me that she wrote a weekly blog called “Ministering in the Messy,” and that I was welcome to write a guest blog for her. However, God had much more in store for the two of us than one blog post. For me, it would ultimately be an opportunity to have a deep and meaningful relationship with a woman who had been in my shoes not so long ago.  For Deb, it was a divine appointment to share her pearls of wisdom.

What Deb didn’t know was that I had been longing for a mentor like Timothy had in the apostle Paul. The more I prayed about it, the more God kept bringing Deb to mind. I boldly asked Deb if she would mentor me, and without hesitation, she agreed. This sparked a monthly visit to her hometown to sit over chips and salsa and soak up every word that she was willing to pour into me. Sometimes, the conversation was serious, filled with opportunities for my improvement. Oftentimes, it consisted of how she had ministered to other women that week. But ALWAYS, it included stories of her beloved family, especially her grandchildren.

I knew that Deb had not been feeling well over the summer, yet undeterred, she would often text to let me know that she was praying for me. Even though she had been battling a lengthy illness, this brave woman was still joyful, never letting on that she didn’t have much more time on this earth.

The week before Deb passed away, she suggested that we get together for our monthly lunch saying that we had “much to discuss.” I told her we could wait until she was feeling better, but she insisted that she felt good enough to listen. She bought my lunch at our favorite Mexican restaurant and told me that I could pay for her meal next time. True to her word, there was much to discuss, and we talked and talked until it was just the two of us left in the place. As I was preparing to leave, she hugged me tightly and said, “I’m proud of you, April.” Then she looked into my eyes and said, “And I’m proud of what God’s going to do through you.” I never would have imagined those would be the last words that I would hear from her, but how precious to have been given that gift! They were words of life spoken by a life-giving mentor.

What had started off as a pearl of wisdom here and a pearl of encouragement there was added with a pearl of prayer, and a pearl of accountability, and a pearl of love… until, eventually, there was enough to string a short pearl necklace.

Today, I proudly wear my beautiful pearls that Deb gave to me. And even though I would have loved a longer strand of them, I am grateful for each and every pearl the Lord allowed me to have. They are truly priceless.

In Titus 2, Paul urges the older men to be worthy of respect and sound in faith. Likewise, he lays the foundation for the older women to be reverent and willing to teach what is good to the younger women. Such instruction is the bedrock of discipleship and, if implemented, can have lasting effects within the Kingdom of God.

If you are a younger man or woman who desires a mentor:

• Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a more mature man or woman who will commit to teach you sound doctrine, keeping in mind that you may meet them in an unlikely place, (i.e. a wedding)

• Be bold and ask him or her to mentor you, offering to drive to where they are and buy their lunch, (if they will let you!)

• Take the initiative to make the meetings consistent, yet be flexible when life happens.

• Start stringing all the different pearls that you are given together.

If you are an older man or woman with the ability to mentor:

• Always point your mentee to what is good, and ask about their true relationship with God. Don’t be afraid to get personal.

• Have equal parts of listening, encouraging, and pushing them to get out of their comfort zone, then hold them accountable to the meeting time and topics discussed.

• Don’t underestimate the impact that you can have on his or her ministry and life, (even in a short period of time).

• Freely give your pearls away.


“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. When he found one priceless pearl, he went and sold everything he had and bought it,” Matthew 13:45-46 (CSB).


April Rodgers is the published author of Made to Shine: 90 Devotions to Enjoy and Reflect God’s Light and Let Your Light Shine: 6-Week Study on God’s Light. After losing her brother in a tragic car accident, April held on to Jesus and allowed Him to turn her darkness into light. Now she lives to encourage others to reflect the Light of Christ in their everyday lives by speaking at conferences and shining God’s light on her YouTube channel titled “The Reflecting Light Show.” April is a seminary graduate with her Masters of Theological Studies, mom to two sweet daughters, and wife to an amazing man. She is heavily involved in Women’s Ministry at Christ Church in West Monroe, Louisiana, and her favorite things consist of coffee, community small groups, and Sunday afternoon naps. Are you looking for a dynamic speaker for your next Women’s Event or Conference? April has a passion for helping others live with purpose as they seek to let their lights shine for Christ. April is qualified to speak on topics such as Biblical passages, women’s ministry, marriage, grief, and financial planning. Visit aprilrodgers.com today to inquire about April’s speaking schedule.

This article was originally published in the 2023 Fall Edition of the Destiny Magazine. You can find the online edition here.