Poiema Foundation - Education and Public Awareness of Human Trafficking

Farewell to Debbie Crook

Saying Goodbye to Poiema’s Superhero

For most people, the word “superhero” evokes images of elaborate costumes, secret identities, and unusual powers. But through Debbie Crook’s work in law enforcement and with Poiema, she has proved that not all superheroes wear capes.

Saving the World

After encountering an employee at a liquor store selling alcohol to teenagers, sixteen-year-old Debbie told herself, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a police and I’m going to go back and arrest that person.” She longed to change the world through fighting crime. “I’ve gotta save the world. I’ve gotta save them from all these bad guys.”

After joining the U.S. Marshals, she discovered that her passion encompassed not only catching fugitives but also locating missing minors. Her love for children fueled her work. “Well, because children—they’re innocent—and when people try to take their innocence from them, I think that’s the most egregious thing that anyone can do.”

In recovering minors, she saw many happy endings of family reunions—even receiving a wedding photo of one woman several years after her rescue. But not all went back to loving parents. How could she protect the innocent then? She knew her greatest superpower: prayer. “Just pray that they would be in a loving home and know the Lord.”

“Retiring” to Poiema

After twenty-five years with the Marshals, she thought she had finished saving the world. “I’m not messing with any more of these bad guys or doing any of this kind of stuff anymore.”

But at a human trafficking seminar, she met Rebecca Jowers. After sensing Rebecca’s passion and ability, Debbie prayed, “Lord, I know what you’re doing. Yes, I could help her.” After volunteering with Community Awareness Outreach, she soon joined Poiema as the Outreach Director.

Poiema Foundation’s variety of service opportunities allows her to give helpful advice to those interested in getting involved. “Just get in there and find something that you feel comfortable doing. If you’re a prayer warrior, pray. If you’re great at writing letters, write letters. Teach a skill at the safe house. Outreach. Whatever you’re good at, lend that to helping Poiema.”

Following the Call

Although Poiema has said goodbye to Debbie as Outreach Director, her protective instinct will continue forever. “I’m sure I’ll never retire completely. I just can’t say that I’m going to give it up forever.” Her undying passion came as a mission from God. “It was a calling. God had put that on my heart from the time I was a kid. And it never went away.”

Vanessa Hood, coleader for Community Awareness Outreach at the Mansfield Campus and Search Volunteer with 4theONE Foundation (a partnering organization), shared how Debbie’s determination has furthered her calling. “The thing about Debbie is that when she sets her mind to something, there’s no stopping her. She will find the person that is missing, she will be there for the friend who needs her, and she will pray for you and with you.”

Debbie could only follow her mission with God. In a tough line of work, only one thing kept her going: “knowing the Lord.” Although she served as Poiema’s superhero, her life verse reveals that she knows the real hero:

“When I am afraid, I trust in you”
Psalm 56:3