Hello, my name is Marie Hopkins. I am currently living in Melbourne, Australia, where I was born. I have a significant genetic hearing loss and started wearing hearing aids as an infant. I met the Go Deaf Missions team for the first time in 2018, when they joined with our church’s deaf ministry, to help with a missions project in the Solomon Islands. Looking back on my life, I can see how God has been preparing me for that meeting. During our trip, I was drawn to the team and asked them many questions about who they were, what they were hoping to do and how the team operated. I was deeply impressed with their answers. They also shared with me several things they had been praying to find in new potential team members, and I could see that many skills that God had blessed me with aligned with what they had been looking for. These include my experience with Auslan (Australian Sign Language), photography, computer skills, proofreading, and administration. I was offered an opportunity to travel to Peru, to spend time with the team on a scheduled trip there, which gave us an opportunity to further discern whether I would be a good fit for the team and for the ministry.
When I was young I didn’t fully understand God’s character. I knew of His love, but didn’t really know of His holiness. I was without a real understanding of my rebellion against God; wanting to live my life my own way and for my own purposes, rather than looking to know and follow God’s will for my life and seeking to obey and exalt Him. I did not realise that I loved my sin more than I loved Him and that I was in need of a Saviour to reconcile my relationship with God – something I couldn’t do by any means myself. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 KJV). I could see that people who had been through immense pain could trust Him and that He helped them in a deep, meaningful way. I noticed how knowing God personally brought people a joy that persisted despite adversities and hardships. There was a perceptible difference in the Christians I knew; a transformation was evident in them that I did not have.
When I was in Year 10, I was blessed to be accepted after applying for a school exchange program to Ngukurr, a small, remote Aboriginal community in Arnhem Land. We stayed there for a couple of weeks. This town was originally settled by the Church Mission Society and there was still a Christian influence there. One day our school group joined the locals as we sat on the red dusty ground in front of this church building, as a few local men stood on the platform and played music for worship. I remember as I sat there, having a distinct impression that God wanted me to become an Auslan Interpreter. This call on my life was quite out of the blue, especially as I have a hearing loss myself. It was some time before I truly responded to it.
In 2005, while studying science at the University of Melbourne, I was actively involved with the Christian Union. During one of their camps, I heard the gospel clearly preached and was impacted by a clearer understanding of God’s holiness, and how far we fall short of His standards in our sinful state. Although I had already offered my life to God, I was not yet truly saved. I asked God to continue to shape me to be more like Him, understanding that I could not do that in my own strength. I graduated a year later with a Bachelor of Science (Microbiology).
In 2013, I travelled with the Deaf ministry team from Calvary Baptist Church of Melbourne, to the Solomon Islands for the first time. While we were there, Mary Fuller, a missionary to the Deaf, presented the gospel to some of the local Deaf and something about the simple, visual presentation struck me. Later that day, I read through the book of Romans. Robert Gunter, also a missionary to the Deaf, had shared the Roman’s Road with me, and this preparation helped me. I came to a full understanding that there was nothing I could do to deserve God’s grace and that it was a free gift that I could not possibly earn. It was a relief to come to a fuller understanding of this important truth. I had had lingering doubts and questions about faith, but on this day, I prayed and asked for forgiveness for my sin and my rebellion and asked God to save me. Since that day, I have had a lasting peace.
Later in the same year I resigned from my laboratory role, and, trusting that God would provide for me, I completed a full-time Diploma of Auslan over the next two years and a part-time Diploma of Interpreting (Auslan) for another year. I was very thankful to then pass my accreditation exam, allowing me to become a qualified interpreter. Around this time, I started to serve in my church’s Deaf ministry, helping with interpreting for our church services and continue to do so today.
Following the Lord has led me to all sorts of places and to be in different roles that I wouldn’t have been in otherwise. He has led me to make sacrifices that seemed strange and difficult to me at the time, but with hindsight I can see His all-knowing hand protecting me and helping me to grow in ways He knows is needed.
I was very encouraged after my trip to Peru; we all felt I would be a good fit for the Go Team! Since then, I have commenced the process of raising support here in Australia. My sending church is Calvary Baptist Church, here in Melbourne. I am excited to see what God will do in my life on the Go Deaf Missions Team!
Pray for me as I seek to raise support. Here in Australia there are very few Independent Baptist churches and I may need to raise support from other countries as well. I am asking the Lord for all the finances I need to be a full-time missionary with Go Deaf Missions.