I became a disciple my freshman year of college at the University of Cincinnati. A brother named Jordan Bishop reached out to me on campus while walking around doing cold contact evangelism.
I would say my biggest challenge as a disciple is being emotionally connected. It is hard for me to understand my own emotions and many times I view them as weaknesses. Obviously that isn’t true since Jesus was a man who wept with others but was also joyful. Becoming more aware of my emotions and connecting to them is definitely something I’ve been going after. It is really difficult but amen for victory in Jesus!
My best memory as a disciple, aside from being baptized, was going on a prayer walk with one of my best friends. I think I had just gotten baptized and a bunch of sisters went out for a girl’s night to the Cheesecake Factory and there was a bit of a wait. My friend suggested we go on a prayer walk, so we did. We ended up getting lost and it began to rain. Most girls might have seen these circumstances as a negative thing, but being lost in the dark with a sister and just praying to God as it poured is one of my favorite memories to this day.
I have been learning ASL since I was a sophomore in high school. I took ASL simply because I didn’t want to take Spanish and I thought ASL would be a cool alternative; it blew my mind! I currently have finished all the ASL courses that the University of Cincinnati offers. My goal is to become an ASL interpreter and the reason for me is because I love the language and the culture. Every day I will get to learn so many new things because of the experiences of the job. Helping individuals and cultures connect is an amazing ability!
I would say my weakness as an interpreter is my level of experience and wisdom with the field. I haven’t exposed myself as much as I should’ve to the Deaf community and those experiences are important to just immerse yourself in it and learn from the people themselves. My last 2 years in the program I am going to look for more ways to get involved with the community and see what I can do to really fight for those opportunities.
My skill would probably be my native feel to ASL. Everyone always tells me that I look natural when I sign and it truly feels like that. It’s so fun to get creative and use the space around me like my own personal canvas to express what I’m trying to explain with this amazing language.
There have been many learning experiences that I’ve come across being in the Deaf community. A big one would be the cultural difference and how to become more understanding of it. As hearing people we can easily get offended by the bluntness of the Deaf culture, but I’ve had to learn to understand people’s hearts; to know about the cultural differences so that there is a smooth transition of information between cultures.
There are so many things I see God doing in the Deaf ministry and my largest dream is to see the Deaf and hearing ministries work together like a well-oiled machine. I want to see the hearing disciples look at the deaf disciples as simply their brothers and sisters and vice versa. I think that these actions of unconditional love, by attempting to bridge the communication gap and cultural differences, will help disciples build deeper relationships that will aid them in getting to Heaven!
My favorite scripture is:
“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the hearts of men; yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end”.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV)
It brings me so much peace to know that God is in control and that everything will be made beautiful in HIS perfect timing so I don’t need to try and figure out all the answers, God has me.
March 15, 2015
I remember praying to God when I first got baptized in 1999 to use me a powerful way. That led me on a journey to changing my major from Education to being a Sign Language Interpreter. I didn’t know what God was doing back then but now when I look at it everything makes perfect sense. I needed to learn ASL because one day I would meet and marry my husband, I would start a Deaf Ministry with him and I would be used to bring souls to Him.
I thought God would use my talents of acting or writing as my main way to bringing souls to Him. He had other plans for me. I am going back to school now to finish my degree and become a teacher like I’ve wanted to but spiritually, my work is in the Deaf Ministry. Hopefully, my husband and I will go on to do great things for God and help open the lines of communication within our churches to deaf and hard-of-hearing people all over the world.
I write poetry, songs, plays, t.v shows, and movies. My favorite to write would be t.v. shows. I’ve directed, and performed two of my plays within our churches. I use to help lead the dance ministry. One of my favorite dance performances was recorded and is on you tube under “Spring into Worship dance”. I’m excited to see the journey God will take me on with the gifts He has given me. At the end of the day I want to serve the Lord side by side with my husband.
This is the song I did for Chante at our wedding. Enjoy!
Hello fellow brothers and sisters! My name is Kiana Gonzalez and I’m a disciple from Jacksonville, Florida. I’ve been a disciple for almost two and a half years. I’m currently at the University of North Florida getting a dual degree in ASL/English interpretation and Spanish. My dream is to one day start a Deaf ministry in Florida. I don’t have any Deaf relatives or friends, so how did I get interested in Deaf ministry? Well, it is all part of my spiritual journey that started when I was a junior in high school.
When I started my junior year of high school, my mom and my step-dad started going to the Orlando Church of Christ and soon after my mom became a disciple. After my mom became a disciple, I started to study the Bible. During the school year, I took an ASL (American Sign Language) class, where a whole new world was opened up to me about Deaf culture and the beauty of ASL. I quickly became passionate for ASL, as well as for the Word of God. When I finished the Cross study, I suddenly realized that not many people take the time to learn ASL and share it with Deaf people. I knew I didn’t want to be like most people, I wanted to make an impact with my life. When I became a disciple (December 21, 2011) I started to think about how I could make my dream happen.
Once I started my senior year of high school, I researched universities in Florida that offered ASL/English interpretation as a major. That’s how I ended up here in Jacksonville; I turned down an opportunity to play collegiate softball and moved two and half hours away from home to pursue my dream of working with Deaf people. God has blessed my move to Jacksonville! I have been able to make an impact in the campus ministry where I am part of a student-lead leadership group, (we don’t have full-time ministers for campus ministry). God is continually training and transforming me to be more like Christ.
God has given me the gift of grace, the gift of the Holy Spirit and the opportunity to do the good works that He has set out for me long ago (Ephesians 2:10). One of my favorite scriptures is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” The only thing that can stop me from achieving my goals in myself. I strive to make a difference with the life I live because Christ has saved me from my sin; and this awesome, incredible news is worth sharing with EVERYONE. Nothing should stop us from sharing the gospel! I want to be a bridge in the language barrier with Deaf and hearing, English and Spanish speakers. My dream is to see people unified, despite language barriers. I know that I will achieve this goal; “If God is for [me], who can be against [me]?” (Roman 8:31.)
I am excited to announce that the Los Angeles Deaf Ministry team is hosting a 2015 Deaf Retreat! I have attended two Deaf Retreats; in 2004 and again in 2006, I went to the inspiring retreats held in Big Bear, CA. I was so encouraged spirituality as I was united with the Deaf Ministry team.
I do encourage Deaf Ministry ICOC disciples to start saving money now for the 2015 Deaf Retreat. The goal for the Retreat is to have huge numbers of disciples and visitors to attend this event. Don’t miss this exciting event!
The Deaf Retreat Coordinators are Jermaine & Kathy Cornish, Deaf Ministry Deacon Leaders at the Los Angeles North Region. You can reach Jermaine at firstname.lastname@example.org & Kathy at email@example.com for questions and info about the Deaf Retreat.
Stay tuned for updated announcements about the exact date and location.
GO DEAF MINISTRY GO!!
I completed my Grief Recovery Program on August 12th, 2013, which was a three month program. The day I graduated was Carole’s spiritual birthday. Special thanks to Curt Clemens, who is certified in Grief Recovery. He became my best friend. He guided and supported me spirituality during a lot of difficult times after Carole’s passing. That day, I removed my wedding ring and I accepted that Carole went to Heaven and I was to move on with my life.
On July 30th, 2013, I met Chante Fefee on Facebook. We started talking and decided to meet up on Skype. From there, our friendship blossomed. I shared with her about my loss for Carole and how it was very difficult at times. Chante was very supportive and that I liked that. She shared with me about her past marriage situations, which showed me she was open to sharing. I shared that Carole wanted me to be happy with my life after her passing. Chante agreed with that I should be happy with my life and not be depressed.
Chante and I went on a Google Hungout video date with another couple on August 17th, 2013. I called Panera Bread and ordered her lunch, comprised of her favorite foods: Apple Fugi salad, Chai tea, and shortbread cookies. After picking it up she signed into her laptop and our date began. She was so encouraged. It was a lot of fun. After the couple left, we continued to talk for a few more hours. Oh how time went by quickly. During our date, I expressed I was nervous about our date, but Chante made the date enjoyable. She confessed that she was also nervous because she never went on a date with a deaf disciple. She knows American Sign Language, which I appreciated.
We did confessed that she and I have an interest with each other, but I shared that I wanted to take the relationship slowly. She understood. Chante expressed that I am worth the wait, which blew me away. I felt so encouraged that I began to pray to the LORD about my feelings with Chante. On August 25th, I texted Chante and asked to Skype. When we did, I got straight to the point and shared that I was very interested in her and I wanted to grow our relationship possibly to the next level. We texted and Skype weekly.
I sought advice from Darin and AT Ford who are Evangelists at the Annapolis Regional Church about my interests with Chante. They were very excited and prayed for us. AT suggested I speak with Jesse and Lynn Carey who are close friends with Chante. For this reason, I wanted to seek advice on possibly dating Chante as I wanted to take our relationship to the next level of our friendship. Chante and I had our dates using Google Hangout. We had a blast, which made me more interested in her.
My goal was to visit Chante in October. I sought advice from Mike Taliaferro about my plan but advised me that was too fast and it would best to meet her in person first at the SW Conference in Long Beach, CA. I agreed with Mike’s advice to meet her first before planning to visit.
My goal was to have a great time with Chante at the SW Conference. We met for breakfast, lunch and dinner daily. We had more opportunity to share and discussed about life. She did expressed she was disappointed I didn’t fly out in October to visit her, but she understood that I seek advices from the brothers at church.
Chante & I were nervous for meeting in person for the first time on November 7th. After I picked her up, we went to Wendy’s for lunch to talk. Afterwards, we went to meet her grandfather. That was a lot of fun.
That evening, we went on a double dinner date at Subway with Gabriel and Nicole. I remembered Chante asking, ‘What our goals was for the next five years?’ Chante expressed she wanted to get married, have kids, and co-lead a Deaf Ministry.” I was thrilled to hear Chante expressed this because I also dream to lead a Deaf Ministry. I also expressed that I wanted to marry and have children in the future. Chante smiled.
On Friday, November 8th, we dressed formal for the James Bond single event. Our double date was with Gabriel & Brittney Taylor-Davis. We went to eat dinner at the Olive Garden, went to the event and had a blast together. It was an evening to remember.
On Saturday, November 9th, I led a signed a song in American Sign Language and preached a message for the Deaf Ministry. The topic was ‘Breakthrough In Your Outreach to the Deaf Community”. I thought I did well for my third time. I was very nervous and wanted the sermon to go well and be understood by the audience. I got a lot of compliments that I did well which made me feel better.
That evening, Chante and I went on double date with a couple names, Zach Lotane and Courtney Branson, for dinner at La Creperie and went to a single’s dance event. The next day Sunday, we stayed at the conference for the short time because Chante needed to arrive at the airport very early. After Chante picked up her flight ticket at the Delta ticket counter, we talked for a while. I expressed how I appreciated our time together and enjoyed every minute together. I cried because our departure was difficult to say goodbye, not sure when I would see her again. Chante expressed she was very grateful for all the encouragements and wonderful times together.
On Wednesday, November 13, I had a meeting with Mike Taliaferro for an hour. Some disciples were concerned about my decision for dating Chante because they thought it is too soon after Carole’s passing. I explained to Mike not to worry what people think about my decision. I was ready to move on. Mike asked me when I plan to ask Chante to be my girlfriend? I was happy that Mike accepted my decision that I was ready for a new relationship with Chante. Carty and Ford from Annapolis supported my decision to ask Chante to be my girlfriend.
I discussed with Chante to visit her for 2 weeks from November 25th-Dec. 9th and it was agreed. On Monday, November 25th, Chante pick me up. I took her to lunch at the Cheesecake Factory. I gave her poem ‘When I Open Our Good Book’. She read the front page then I show to her the back page by ASL. The poem reads:
I feel gospel of new promises Revelations.
We both can picture Skype face hope in person—focus our scripture as faith smiles looking above us;
Text our reconnection, change is the Genesis of our story just beginning
Psalm hands read the signs prayers reach new life chapters—
When the good book opens to our story, Heaven shines on new hearts,
We can reflect the message of joy together written on every page.
I shared my memories when we first met and how I am very grateful for our friendship. This was the time I planned to ask her to be my girlfriend. Boy, I was nervous! When I asked, she was shocked and answered with a YES! She hugged me twice. God answered our prayers about dating. We had much in common by long distance relationships experiences, married experiences, & Deaf Ministry experiences. I am very happy that Chante can communicate with me using ASL.
We planned a second trip to visit her from December 23rd-January 7th. We had a fantastic times together. I am glad I met some disciples for fellowships at Annapolis Regional Church and planned double dates. I appreciate she interpreted for me on Sunday and midweeks. Chante have done terrific job. I interpreted church songs to give her a break. A special thanks for my team interpreters, McCall Finnerty, Lindsay Koncz, & Chante on Sunday, December 8th, 2013.
Chante’s receptive skills for American Sign Language is growing since I have been teaching her the right way to sign during our video-chat times on Skype and FaceTime. I believe God has great plan for the future for the both of us to lead the Deaf Ministry together. We are looking forward for our ongoing relationships to be closer to the Lord and staying faithful in Christ in 2014!
1. Who reached out to you? Why did you became a disciple?
Cash McHargue and his wife, Maria reached out to me in November of 2010. I was baptized January 23rd, 2011. I chose to become a disciple because I have always had a love for God but I wanted that love to grow deeper and really have the chance to build a relationship with Him.
2. Reason for college major Deaf Studies.
I am very passionate about languages and cultures and wanted to learn more about Deaf Culture and ASL.
3. When and why did you learn ASL?
In 2007, I decided to take ASL as my general education requirement for a foreign language. I fell in love with ASL and knew I had to pursue it. It came very naturally for me because of my love for languages. Deaf Studies was my major and Spanish was my minor. I hope to become an interpreter in the future!
4. Your best memory as a disciple?
My best memory as a disciple was visiting the Deaf Ministry, in the Valley Church, in Los Angeles and meeting brothers and sisters that I had never met! They were so warm and welcoming and made me feel like I was family. We went out to eat after church and took pictures. I really felt at home with the Deaf Ministry in L.A.!
5. Share your experiences about the Deaf Conference at the World Discipleship Summit in 2012.
I went to one class as part of the Deaf Conference and met many new people, including Joe Cepeda! I really enjoyed learning about God in ASL! I learned many new biblical signs that I had not known before!
6. Do you have a vision for the Deaf Ministry?
I would love to see more Deaf ministries in our sister churches all over the country, especially in the Baltimore/D.C. region. I would also love if there were Deaf conferences or retreats every year because the Singles, Marrieds, and Campus ministries have retreats, workshops, and ICMC’s quite frequently. It is my dream to see Deaf ministries get together for retreats as often as other ministries in our churches do.
7. What is your favorite scripture and why?
My favorite scripture is James 1:2-5 because it really helps me to get through times that are tough. It also reminds me that life is a journey we embark on to grow closer to God and build our relationship with Him. We can find pure joy in the good times and the bad, but most importantly, in Christ Jesus.
8. Have you interpreted at church services before? What was the hardest part to interpret? What you do enjoy the most about interpreting?
I have only interpreted at church services twice, starting last month in December 2013. The hardest part of the service to interpret is when scriptures are being read. There are a lot of hard words in the Bible to pronounce and spell, and a lot of stories and history that I do not know yet so sometimes I can get confused in what is actually going on in the scriptures. I love to interpret because I can use ASL. I love using sign language and try to use ASL every opportunity I can, whether it be through interpreting or just chatting!
9. What would you like to see at the future Deaf Conference?
I would like to hang out as much as possible with all Deaf Ministries in ICOC. Maybe plan dinners and different activities to do where we can all hang out, outside of conference classes!