Psalm 37:4 says, “Delight thyself also in the Lord and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” No verse could better apply to the launching of Go Deaf Missions. This ministry was born in our hearts years ago as we were still missionaries in Germany. To see it come to fruition is an indescribable joy for John and me.
I was not saved until my husband and I were on deputation raising support to go to Germany as missionaries. As a child I had gone forward in a service and someone lead me in a prayer but I do recall understanding that I was a sinner and how much I needed forgiveness of my sins. All through my high school years and Bible college days I struggled with the issue of my salvation. It was in Panama City, under the preaching of Dr. Richard White, that I realized I was not truly saved and in the invitation I received Christ as my savior and got the question settled. I was twenty-three. We continued our deputation and went to Germany six years before returning to the United States for John to pastor.
I have worn a lot of hats through the years but my favorites are “Wife” and “Mother.” Even before we were married, John and I considered ourselves a team in many aspects of ministry and we continue to work best as a team today. Our two oldest children, Deborah and Eric, are grown and on their own. Our two youngest are deaf and we have adopted them from foreign countries. Amanda is from Peru and David is from China. Amanda and David will travel with us as we lead Go Deaf Missions.
I learned my first signs as a little girl. My brother and I discovered the manual alphabet in an older foster brother’s Boy Scout Handbook. I remember seeing instructions on how to make a tepee and how to send smoke signals with a small fire and a blanket and I think we thought the manual alphabet was some sort of Indian code. At any rate, we memorized the hand shapes and one would spell words while the other tried to decode them. We used it as our secret language and it drew attention from our friends. It was not until I was fourteen that I met Deaf people for the first time and began learning the rest of the language. It didn’t take me long to realize a love for the Deaf. By the time I was in college I was learning to interpret.
Although I have worked all my adult life as a sign language interpreter, my degree is in elementary education. My education training compliments my work well and has been invaluable on the mission field and in teaching David and Amanda. I spend a great deal of my attention on understanding how the deaf learn and how to overcome educational obstacles. These are skills I look forward to using especially in underdeveloped countries as we try to reach deaf people with the gospel.
The World Health Organization estimates there are over three hundred and sixty million deaf people in the world. After eliminating those who are late deafened adults there are still approximately two hundred and forty million who would be considered culturally deaf. Deaf people are the only culture group in the world that as no homeland. Most people never tthink about how the deaf would ever have the opportunity to hear the Gospel. Some great missionaries have gone before us and made strides to reach the deaf but even with great works like Efata in Lima, Peru, and the work of Richard Vick in Ethiopia and other parts of Africa, statistics suggest that less than two percent of the world deaf population has been reached with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Only two percent!
I am so honored and humbled that God would count us worthy and put us in the ministry of bringing the gospel to a special population of people who are dear to the heart of God. Over the last few years, we have seen a surge of interest in deaf ministry from missionaries across the globe. I believe this is a sign of the imminent return of Christ and a fulfillment of the prophecy that around the throne of God there will be people worshiping Him from every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation.