One of my goals for 2017 is to “recapture the wonder.” Having grown up in a home and church where the Bible and God’s grace, mercy, and love were regularly taught, I find I often take these things for granted. It’s easy to sing hymns from memory and read Bible stories without really thinking about them. Blessings become common and “little” things are left unnoticed. Ravi Zacharias wrote, “Wonder is retained by wise pondering… Where the eye is focused, there the imagination finds its raw material. The right focus must be won at immense cost and discipline. Train the eye to see the good, and the imagination will follow suit.” I want to see God more for Who He truly is and trust Him to do “exceeding, abundantly above all that we ask or think.” (Ephesians 3:20)
JANUARY – I have already begun to be amazed by what God is doing in this new year. Recently I had the privilege of teaching SWM’s annual Community Sign Language Class. What an amazing class it turned out to be! Over 30 people attended. It was such a joy to share one of my passions – signs and Deaf culture! I also loved how it became a joint effort. Amanda Stuart (SWM) helped the first two nights. Bro. Jon and Mrs. Diane Barr assisted at different times through some teaching, leading games, demonstrating how to share the Gospel, and telling stories and more. Bro. Camp came and explained how Silent Word Ministries was established. Allen Snare, SWM Deaf missionary, and several of our deaf volunteers came on Wednesday night to meet the class and share testimonies. I am looking forward to seeing how God uses the students from this class in the future. Please pray that they will continue learning.
For the past several years, many people from a church in Alabama have attended this class to better communicate with a Deaf boy named Leyton. This is so RARE! Often, one or two people will learn signs to be able to interpret. Yet Leyton has a wonderful support group behind him. Family and friends regularly travel an hour each way to take him to school at Harvest Christian Academy for the Deaf. Friends also recently bought a golf cart for his birthday and transformed it into an “ambulance” because his goal is to become a paramedic.
One of the ladies who attended our sign language class this year wants to become Leyton’s new interpreter at their church. This is needed because his former interpreter, Tammy, and her husband will soon join their former pastor and his wife (who also came to our class this year) on the mission field. Tammy wants to work with the many deaf people that are there in Africa.
A church in Tennessee also sent several people to our class this year. Recently, the pastor’s sister, who is deaf, moved here from out of state. Several members of the church came to learn how to better communicate with her. The pastor’s wife has already begun trying to interpret with the few signs she knows.
UPCOMING – God has given me a burden to help with additional training of two ladies there in the Tennessee church for a few months. My goal is to teach them more signs, ASL grammar and interpreting to help them minister to their Deaf family member.
Please pray that God would give me wisdom and that the ladies will learn quickly. I am thankful there are two ladies interested in learning. When a person interprets a sermon, the interpreter is not being spiritually fed because he/she is focused on hearing and understanding the message, and then changing and expressing it in another language. Because of this and the effort it takes, having more than one interpreter is very important.
It is such a blessing to see people wanting to communicate with one person. Many deaf people spend their whole lives unable to communicate with their families in sign language (their first language)! That’s why this is so exciting. Jesus saw the value of “one that was deaf” that others brought to Him (Mark 7:32) These churches are examples of what happens when others also see the “value of one.”
Thank you for partnering with me in ministry!