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.”