Fatherless…Spy…President of DeBartolo Development: The Testimony of Ed Kobel

I’m convinced God tossed Ed Kobel into our lives to save me—as an answer to my prayers. For two years, my husband, Jay, flew to Phoenix early Tuesday mornings and flew back jet-lagged on Friday nights. Having two boys, ages five and three, and another boy quickly sprouting in my womb, I recruited my ladies Bible study to pray for my husband to find a new job, with a Christian employer.


Jay knew nothing of my prayer campaign. He arrived home on Friday nights to a clean house, candles lit, and happy children, albeit an exhausted wife. He didn’t witness my mania as I sped to the after-hours clinic, screaming at fiery-skinned boys to keep them from passing out in the backseat.  He failed to see the vomit splattered walls, middle-of-the-night croup sessions in a steamy shower, and that bout of night terrors. The afternoon the boys painted a huge memorial to Blue’s Clues on our white carpet or when that action figure stuffed in the upstairs toilet caused a gorgeous waterfall spilling off the bridge and splattering the living room below—Jay missed it.

Of course, he wanted to be there, but he was distracted by the battle with the Loch Ness, keeping us financially afloat.


Before my due date, Jay informed me his competitor in Phoenix, Ed Kobel, who was the son of Edward Debartolo Sr. (credited with helping to create the shopping mall and previous owner of the San Francisco 49’ers), planned to move to Tampa, Florida, and take the position of President of Debartolo Development.

“He wants me to come aboard as a development officer,” Jay said. “He might be a Christian. He gave me this book to read.” Jay tossed it to me, A Purpose Driven Life, by Rick Warren.


Jay’s new employment became a foundational block of faith in my story. It proved God answers prayers in the nick of time, just when you think the Red Sea is gonna swallow you whole, He’ll throw out a lifeline. That was Ed for me. Soon after Jay accepted the position, my son Colin was born.


Today, Jay no longer works for Debartolo, and with Ed’s encouragement, has opened his own company, Structure; Ed and his wife Becky have nestled into our family and we in theirs for life. Through their influence, Jay and I have learned how to seek a supernatural relationship from our Heavenly Father, by abiding.


Many are the plans in the mind of man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand.” Proverbs 19:21 (ESV)

If asked to describe Ed Kobel with one word, it would be this…humble. I’ve had a front row seat to his struggles and his victories. I know his humble fatherless beginnings, and more recently, his fight to keep bladder cancer from being his end.

On his fiftieth birthday, when asked what he wanted, he stated, “to reach as many souls for Christ as I can,” and his words have stuck with me. He’s been on that very mission, carrying the message of Abiding to businessmen, men in military, married couples, and fathers across our nation. Ed’s message encourages believers to not settle for a lukewarm relationship with the Father, but to be intentional in seeking a supernatural encounter daily.


I encourage you to listen to an amazing testimony of one man’s life journey from fatherless…to spy…to President of Debartolo Development, and how God directed his path through it all, please click the link provided below.

Ed Kobel’s Testimony at Wise Counsel

(His testimony starts at 4:00 if you’d like to fast forward.)

Tammy Carter Adams is the founder and editor in chief of The Hallelujah House. She’s happily married to Jay and they have four children ages 22 to 6. When not blogging, Tammy can be found working on her book, painting canvases, and enjoying the summer with her daughter Bella. You can connect with Tammy directly by clicking the “About Us” link at the top of the homepage.

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