Deaf Ministry ICOC Deaf Ministry ICOC
Deaf Ministry ICOC

Southwest Conference

by on Aug.05, 2013, under Announcements

It will be held in Long Beach, California on November 8-10, 2013. Exciting news for this conference will offer Deaf Ministry classes. Interpreter Services will be provided during the conference services. I do encourage our Deaf Ministry family in US to attend this conference. It will be a fantastic times of fellowship, good news sharing, & learn inputs from each other for our ministry.

Luke 7: 22, God does amazing things through His disciples when we have faith in Him. Imagine how God can use the talent’s of deaf and hearing disciples to reaching to the Deaf Community in US. God has called us to take action for the Deaf Ministry to become successful.

More info about this conference link for registration can be found at Coming soon Deaf Ministry classes will be posted online. Stay tune!



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Memorial Service for Carole Cepeda in Los Angeles, CA

by on Jul.01, 2013, under Member Profile

Carole Daphne Cepeda passed away from this earthly life on May 2, 2013. Her death from cancer at age 43 ended her life far too soon.  But her legacy of devotion to others will live on for many years.

Carole was born deaf and raised as a Kingdom Kid  in South Africa and Canada. Her parents, Doug Lightening and Daphne Renton, helped plant the church in Johannesburg.

Carole was baptized as a teen in 1986.  She moved to Los Angeles in 1995 to be part of the Deaf Ministry in the L.A. Church.  The loving and encouraging spirit she had toward the deaf disciples in L.A. and other cities was an inspiration to all who knew her.

She met her future husband, Joe Cepeda, when he was visiting the L.A. Deaf Ministry from his home town of San Antonio in 2002.  The initial meeting led to a long-distance friendship to a dating relationship in 2004.  They were married in San Antonio on September 17, 2005.

Carole faced challenges with courage and a faith that was deeply rooted in God’s word and His love for her.  She was a friend to many and lived her life to the full.

Her husband, Joe, expresses his deepest appreciation to all disciples and friends who have offered encouragement and prayers.  Memorial services for Carole were held in Oakville, Ontario; San Antonio; Durban, South Africa; and Los Angeles.

A video of the Los Angeles service can be viewed at end of the article.  A highlight of the service was Joe’s heartfelt signing of the praise song “Forever”.

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Improving Your ASL Skill

by on Jun.24, 2013, under Resources

If you are interested in improving your ASL skill, I would recommend you to study ASL at your local college or you can find free ASL courses online at ASL University . You can then practice communicating with deaf people by attending deaf events in your area. Watching deafness related movies are also a great way to familiarize yourself about deaf culture.

Hebrews 10: 35-36 “So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.”

“From my online research, I found that the average time needed for a person to become fluent in ASL is between 6-8 years depend on that person’s learning effort. I have a passion for ASL and I am confident in signing because I have studied that language since college. For me, attending deaf events are important opportunities to learn to communicate with deaf people. I enjoy outreaching to the Deaf Community to meet new friends. ” said Joe Cepeda.

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Alain Ouattara

by on May.27, 2013, under Video

Alain is a deaf disciple from the Ivory Coast. He shares his experiences about the Deaf Ministry at Abidjan. Check out the inspiring video below:

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Britney Garstka

by on May.20, 2013, under Member Profile

My name is Britney Garstka, and I became a disciple on March 15th, 2008. I had spent one short semester at the University of Toledo where I was reached out to by Nino Bradley. I moved back home and transferred schools and continued to attend the Cleveland Church of Christ and was finally baptized in Cleveland. It was an eventful night! I had grown up as what I thought was a Christian. My mom had gone to seminary school and raised me and my 3 sisters up in accordance with the bible. We would have family fellowship at home most of the time, which was led by my mom. Occasionally we did attend church and I remember going to Sunday school a few times. I remember church being boring and more for grown-ups than for kids. When I started studying the bible in Toledo, I came to learn much more about the Bible than I had ever known before. The hardest lesson for me to learn was about baptism and how people become saved. My mother had always taught me that if I believed in my heart and confessed with my mouth that Jesus is Lord, then I would be saved. I did not learn about baptism and studying the Bible and living out the scriptures until I was in college. I ultimately decided that Jesus himself got baptized, so how could I be exempt? I desired to wash all my sins away and to be sure of my salvation instead of doubting it.

I had an interest in sign language early on in my life. I remember teaching myself the manual alphabet and memorizing it when I was in elementary or middle school. When I was a senior in high school, I finally had the opportunity to take ASL as a foreign language class. I loved it! During my short time in Toledo, I had discovered that I could pursue sign language even more and chose to change my major from nursing to become a sign language interpreter. I love the variety of places I go and the people I meet. I am forever learning new things and I love the opportunities and challenges that I am presented with.

I met my husband, Cliff Garstka, at the Ohio Valley Youth Camp in 2010. We were both camp counselors for the teens and although we barely spoke at camp, we found that we shared a love for the outdoors. After camp, Cliff considered taking me on an encouragement date. We are 7 years apart, and because of our age difference, he almost did not ask me on a date! He thought I was too young, and I thought he was too old. He decided to encourage me anyways, and we both hit it off immediately. We began dating after our 3rd date! We were finally engaged in December 2011 and married on May 5, 2012. We continue to serve the youth in the Cincinnati church and are now leading and ministering to the “Pre-teens”, which are our 7th and 8th graders.

Although we work with the youth, my time is divided between the kids and the Deaf ministry. Cyndie Imfeld is a sister in the Cincinnati church who also signs. She and I studied the bible with Robin, a deaf woman, and baptized her this year! We are excited to see answered prayers and growth in the Deaf Ministry. My first dream as a baby disciple, was to be involved in and to lead a deaf ministry. After a few years, that dream started to fade, but God is faithful! My husband, Cliff, has adopted my dream for a Deaf Ministry as one of his own, and is pursuing taking sign language classes. With the help of Cyndie’s husband, Kevin, Cliff has had a few studies with a deaf man who has been visiting. We both wonder what God’s plan is for the Deaf Ministry as well as for us. Maybe one day we will no longer be leading the youth and will be leading a Deaf Ministry! In the meantime, I am working as an interpreter and I also serve by interpreting on Sundays at the Cincinnati Church of Christ and for other church events.

I am encouraged to see the Deaf Ministry grow and pray for it to continue to grow! I love meeting new people and learning more about their lives. I hope to be able to share the gospel to deaf and hearing alike, and to grow the Deaf Ministry!

My favorite scripture is Proverbs 19:21, “Many are the plans in a man’s heart, but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.”

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Memorial Service for Carole Cepeda

by on May.13, 2013, under Member Profile

Carole Cepeda’s biopsy was on December 27th, 2012. It was sad Christmas week because of her liver pain, which had started in April of 2012. Carole’s Father, Doug Lightening, flew to visit us in San Antonio on Friday, December 28. He then rented a car and I met him at the Transplant Hospital in the evening. Carole stayed at the hospital for three days. I came up with a surprised plan to have small church service on December 30 for Carole. Mike Taliaferro preached the short sermon and communion. Alyssa interpreted for us. We are very grateful for our best friends, Todd/Gine Paszkowski, who also joined with us. Carole appreciated that I, her husband, planned that small church service for her.

Carole was discharged from the hospital on Sunday, December 30th in the evening. My parents, Doug, Carole and I met with the doctor on January 5, 2013, when we received the bad news that Carole was diagnosed with Angiosarcoma (rare liver cancer) and was given 6 months to live. Our family was shocked and cried about this news. She feared dying.

Megan Oberholster, Carole’s sister, flew to San Antonio from Canada on Thursday, January 10th, and stayed over my parent’s house. Carole made decision to move to Megan’s house in Oakville, Ontario in Canada on Saturday, January 12th. She had two reasons for her move to Canada: she wanted to be closer to her family and to live there for 3 months to receive her Ontario Health Insurance. Carole’s Mother, Daphne Renton, flew to Oakville to stay temporarily with her daughter to take care of her terminal illness. I was sad that I was unprepared for this move and could not quit my job immediately because I needed to keep my health insurance to support my wife. I prayed daily and sought advice from disciples about this tough situation. I had a meeting with my employer to request for FMLA but this plan was unsuccessful since my company is so small. My employer allowed me to take off one week unpaid so I could fly back and forth to take care of my wife’s terminal illness. I was concerned that if I continued to work and Carole didn’t survive, I’d regret missing the opportunity to be by her side at the end of her life.

I flew to visit Carole for one week on January 25th-February 1st. I was happy to celebrated Carole’s 43rd birthday on Monday, January 28th. On Sunday, February 10th, I created Carole’s Facebook page at to encourage our family in Christ and friends to read her posts. I typed weekly updates about the status of Carole’s health and how I was doing during our difficult times. Many times our family in Christ expressed how much they would love to chat with Carole on FaceTime or Skype but Carole didn’t have energy to chat with many friends. Carole was able to chat with her friends for short periods of times. My goal was to setup fundraising because we need strong support from our friends to raise funds for our monthly income and Carole’s medical bills. We appreciate that the International Church of Christ (ICOC) has been praying for us daily. Sunil Punjabi and I had meeting on Wednesday, February 13, 2013 after our men’s midweek and he advised me to resign from my job immediately and move ASAP to Canada because I needed to be with Carole. My church paid for our health insurance for two months. Amen! God made it clear that I should resign, and on February 16, 2013, I resigned my full-time position as Assistant Office Manager at the Little Texans Pediatrics. I surrendered my job to make my priority to be with Carole. My vehicle stayed in San Antonio, TX. My family in Canada provided transportation for me.

For the months of March and April, Occupational Therapy was provided at no cost for Carole. Carole’s doctor visited Megan’s house every week to prescribe medications for Carole’s liver pain. I remembered she told me and encouraged me to be happy when she passed away. Carole and her sister Megan talked about Heaven. Carole was praying daily to become fearless and preparing to go to Heaven before she died. She told her sister before she died that she desired to see her brother, Caleb, and her Dad who lived in South Africa. Carole spoke of how she was ready to go to Heaven and did not fear it at all. Carole persuaded me to visit San Antonio for couple of weeks but I was very concerned that her health would decline quickky. I decided to visit my parents in San Antonio for two weeks on April 23. Our best friend from Los Angeles, Christine Rushing, flew for the short visit to spend time with Carole on April 26-April 30. I called my mother-in-law, Daphne, on Saturday, April 27th and received the bad news that Carole’s was expected to die very soon. I felt stressed and terrible about this sad situation. I had planned on attending the TX Statewide church service in Belton on April 30 and hosting the 1st Anniversary Deaf Open-Caption Movie (DOCM) event on May 4 but had to put those on the side and caught an emergency flight on Sunday, April 28 to be with Carole for the last week of her life. I arrived to see Carole at the hospice care on Sunday afternoon. Carole pulled me a tight hug and kissed me. Carole’s last words were, “hugs and kisses.”

Later, Daphne reminded me that Carole want to talk to me. Carole said “I want hugs and kisses,” so I gave her twice the amount of hugs and kisses. Caleb and her Dad arrived on April 30 to spend time with Carole. She was very happy to see Caleb & Dad for the last time. Carole was super encouraged to watch the DVD of special songs in American Sign Language (ASL) from the Los Angeles Deaf Ministry family. She was part of the LA Deaf Ministry team for 6 years from 1995-2001. On Wednesday, May 1, Carole’s body is about to shut down and she wasn’t able to communicate any more. She could only breathe. Daphne & I held Carole’s hands as we prayed, and we were there for Carole’s last breath at 10:38am Eastern Time on Thursday, May 2, 2013. We cried heavily and felt heartbroken for our loss. Special thanks to the Oberholster family, Daphne, Doug, Mission Point Christian Church, & Deaf Ministry ICOC for supporting me during this difficult time of Carole’s passing.

Joe accomplished four goals before Carole passed away: her last birthday, late Valentine’s Day on Sunday 2-17-13, early 8th Anniversary on 4-16-13 for dinner and dancing to two songs called “My Valentine” by Martha McBride and Salsa music, & to be at side for her last breath. Carole will be always be a part of my life. She was inspiration and impacted the Deaf Ministry around the world. I thank God for giving me a beautiful wife for 7 years. She taught me a special skill of gentleness that I will not be forget. Carole was a disciple for 27 years, gentle and strong spiritual woman. I love her all my heart and am going to miss her. Carole was my best friend in Christ and I am very grateful that she was my special partner in the Deaf Ministry.

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14th Open-Caption Movie

by on May.06, 2013, under Announcements

On May 4th, 2013, DOCM (Deaf Open-Caption Movies), viewed “Iron Man 3” for it’s 14th Deaf event. This is the 1st Anniversary since Joe Cepeda started this event on May 2012. This event was sold out for 147 tickets. DOCM monthly events are growing strong and popular for the Deaf Community in San Antonio. Joe couldn’t able to attend this event due to his wife passing away on May 2nd in Oakville, Ontario in Canada while Michael Razzen and Nikki Gomez temporary replaced Joe’s role as hosts the the DOCM. They had an anniversary cookie cake to celebrate for this event to the Deaf Community friends.

Robert Downing Jr. as Tony Stark, billionaire and popular armor suit for the third installment of Iron Man films. This is his fourth film of Iron Man includes Avengers. Tony made a huge mistake for giving his mansion address to Mandarin for live television reporters. Terrorists have destroyed Tony’s mansion. How would Tony survive without his back-up suits? What is Tony mission to capture or kill the Mandarin? Tony had stress disorder and lack of sleeps daily to work on his projects to improve his advance technology for hid new suit. Iron Man 3 is an inspiring action and technical film, that you don’t want to miss during this hot summer 2013. Don’t forget to stay at the end of the movie to watch the post credit scene.

Special thanks from DOCM fans and the Deaf Community to Brandon Arceneaux, CEO of Alamo Drafthouse Cinema and Liz Burtz, Director of Special Events. We applause Michael and Nikki for all their hard work with creating, making and promoting our monthly DOCM flyers at the San Antonio College Interpreter Program and Facebook since May 2012. Thank you Brandon & Liz for your support to the Deaf Community!

A friendly reminder, all of our DOCM events are on Facebook. Once logged on, you can view the selections offered and vote. If you are new, you can create a username and password, then join the fun. Please log onto Facebook and type in DOCM for the vote poll. If you have not signed up, please do so. Once signed in, you will be able to read the post and vote. The link for DOCM is

We look forward to seeing everyone again at the 15th DOCM event for this month. It will be another popular movie for the Deaf Community on the same month of May.



Iron-Man-3 poster

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Cyndie Imfeld

by on Apr.01, 2013, under Member Profile

My name is Cyndie Imfeld, and I help interpret at the Cincinnati Church of Christ. I
became a disciple in the summer of 1982. While taking summer classes at the Cincinnati
Conservatory of Music in my hometown of Cincinnati, a classmate, Robyn Church, reached
out to me and invited me to a commuter bible talk. I noticed immediately that Christianity
was real for the students in this bible talk. They shared openly about their lives and how
they were putting the scriptures into practice. I wanted what they had, and I expressed to
Robyn how Romans 7:15 described my life completely (…what I want to do I do not do, but
what I hate I do.) After about 3 weeks of personal bible study, I was baptized into Christ.

During my last year of college I took an ASL class for a language credit. Not long after
I graduated, a sister, Cindy Schneider told me that she had Neurofibromatosis, a disease that caused tumors to grow inside her body. Two of those tumors were in her ears and she knew their removal would cause her to be completely deaf. Together we took several sign
language classes to help her to transition into the deaf community and me to learn how to
interpret for her at church. Through the years we met and studied with several deaf people
and at least two became disciples. One, a deaf-blind woman named Donna LePiors, remained a faithful member of the Cincinnati Church of Christ for more than 20 years. About five years ago she moved to Michigan for health reasons but remains in contact with us. Cindy Schneider passed away around 2006. For several years we had no deaf ministry. This past summer, I reconnected with a deaf man, Charles, who had come out to church several times when I was first learning sign language. I hadn’t seen him for nearly 20 years but noticed him at a “deaf take-over” event downtown and invited him to visit church again. He came and liked it so much that he told his sister’s friend, Robin Edwards about it. Robin was new to Cincinnati and looking for a church. She showed up one Sunday in November and was baptized in March. It brought tears to our eyes to look up and see Robin rise out of the water. There were hundreds of arms waving in deaf applause and praise from the congregation!

After being in the singles ministry for several years, I married Kevin Imfeld, in 1989.
We recently became “empty nesters”. We have two daughters who are both disciples. Our
oldest, Stephanie, 21, was married to Kyle Pollock in December, and our youngest, Samantha, is 19 and active in the campus ministry at the University of Cincinnati. Kevin has learned some sign language from me and is enrolled in an ASL class to begin in May. Samantha has also taken an interest and is enrolled in ASL class next semester at U.C.

What inspires me most about the  Deaf Ministry ICOC is being able to go to a seminar  anywhere  in the country and enjoy an instant connection with deaf disciples and interpreters.  It’s not a connection based on a common language, but one based on a common relationship with Jesus Christ. I love how God has allowed modern technology to strengthen our communication.  Skype, Face Time and texting make it even easier for deaf disciples and interpreters to encourage one another.

One of my favorite scriptures is Ephesians 3:20-21: “Now to him who is able to do
immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Because of God’s power, I believe that the Cincinnati Church of Christ Deaf Ministry is going to grow tremendously in number, in faith and in unit. I also believe that there will soon be more interpreters and deaf people of all ages and backgrounds praising God in ASL! To God be the glory!

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