Category Archives: Member Profile

Memorial Service for Carole Cepeda in Los Angeles, CA

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”.

Britney Garstka

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.”

Memorial Service for Carole Cepeda

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.

Cyndie Imfeld

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!

Robin Edwards


I was talking to a friend from Michigan on Video Phone and asked her if she knew of a good church in Cincinnati that I could attend. I was new to the city. She helped me get in contact with her brother who lives here to get his advice. When I talked with him later, he said that he was currently visiting a good church called the Cincinnati Church of Christ. He suggested that I try it.



I learned from Britney, Deb and Cyndie as we talked about God, discipleship and how to follow God. We got together regularly to study the bible. I was amazed when they told me about light and darkness. I realized from that study that I was in the darkness. I learned that to become a disciple I had to hear, believe, repent, confess that Jesus is Lord, and be baptized. That is what I needed to do to go from darkness to light. New life. That’s what I wanted. On March 17, 2013, I was baptized into Christ. I feel so good! I am the new Robin.



I would say “unknown” based on a few different comments from my aunt, uncle and mom. I was very young, but I have no idea exactly how I became deaf or when it happened.  I was 4 or 5 when I learned sign language.  I learned it when I went to Kendall School for the Deaf on the campus of Gallaudet University in Washington DC.



ACTS 2:38

Peter replied, ” Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”. WHY? Because it was challenging to learn that I was still in my sins. I needed to repent and be baptized. I wanted to be in the light and have a new life. I always want to be learning about the Bible and God. I understand that I still sin today, but I am so thankful for God’s forgiveness and this exciting new life!  I want to continue to gain understanding and faith in God.



1 PETER 2:9-10

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation and God’s special possession that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness and into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people but now you are the people of God. Once you had not received mercy. But now you have received mercy.”

WHY?  Because being on the dark side means you’re not a Christian and many things are blocking you from having a relationship with God. When I became baptized, I came into the light. I shine as a new person to God. I am God’s daughter, full of blessings from God!!



I want to see deaf people in Cincinnati come to God as disciples and know how good it feels to have new life. They need to understand about the Bible and God.  They need to believe in God.

Mamta Singh

Mamta Singh was Born in Gujarat, India in a strict Hindu family.   She moved to the United Kingdom as a child, this was her first exposure to Christ.   She moved to United States and went to high school.   She started experiencing an identity crisis.   She went to college and started to think about life.   Is God real?   What do you want from me?   Why am I so lonely?   She tried to do variety of things such as studies, shopping, relationship, and family but her priority focus is relying on God.

After 2nd year in college, Mamta was selected for a special program called Institute of Government (1 of 28 students in NC).   While she was there in Raleigh, Someone invited her friend Carol to a Bible study at NCSU. Carol took Mamta with her.   She sat listening as the sisters did the Word of God study with Carol.   Mamta was fascinated and wanted to know more about God.   She was baptized in the Triangle church at Raleigh, North Carolina.

Mamta read the Bible for 2 years in KJV and skipped reading Chronicles and Kings.   She was attracted to the teaching of Jesus: especially, ‘Do not store up treasures on Earth’.   She read in New Testament about baptism.   Mamta didn’t have anyone to baptize her so she baptized herself in the shower.

God must have smiled: she graduated and moved to Raleigh, met Carol, and studied Bible.   Twenty one  years ago was the best decision of her life.   Her parents were unhappy when Mamta became a disciple, she moved to London.  Mamta grew in her convictions and has great friendships in the church. She was experiencing  severe persecution such as being locked up, beaten and chased with a knife.

Mamta managed to escape and moved to Georgia.   In 1995: God called her to join the ministry in India.   She never lived in India as an adult.  She was challenged to break up a guy she was dating .   Her thoughts were,”I had to go to India because I kept thinking,  If I don’t go I’ll never know”.   At New Delhi,  during the first night, Mamta realized she left her whole life behind and she don’t know a single person here.   But God is great!!   She learned the language and their culture.

Mamta had an opportunity to go on a four person mission team to Pakistan.   It was the most faith building time of her life and also very challenging.   In Pakistan,  women were not allowed to go out alone, they eat separately from others.  There were frequent strikes.   She was even attacked several times. She came back to India and got engaged that same week.   She was married a month later.   In India, we have arranged marriages even in the church.   Mark and Nadine Templer arranged their marriage to Moses.

For their honeymoon, a month later, Moses and Mamta went on another very small mission team to Dhaka, Bangladesh.   They were there for a year and a half six months at a time.   They learned the Bangla language.

Eight months later, Mamta was sent on the 3rd  mission team to Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.   This is Moses’ hometown.   There,  they speak the king’s Hindi.   She had to learn how to read Hindi so that she could study the Bible with women.   It was an incredible 8 years in the ministry: an amazing journey.

Mamta understood why she experienced persecution.   Almost all the women that she studied with in India, Pakistan and Bagladesh were persecuted.   She was able to give them strength and courage.   God blessed her with lots of fruit. She studied the Bible with so many people who became Christians in these three countries.   Now,  there are two churches in Pakistan and two in Bangladesh.

“God blessed me with a great husband and 2 daughters”.   Both Megha and Manvi were born in India.   In 2003, there was tragedy in her family.   Mamta’s sister lost her husband and her 18 year old son in a boating accident.  Moses & Mamta decided to move back to USA so they could reach out to her family.   Mamta got a job as teacher.   They started a church in Greenville, South Carolina, her hometown.

In 2012, Moses lost his job.   God brought them to Rochester, NY.   They have started a church there called Rochester International Church of Christ.   The church website link is It was just Moses and Mamta.   Now there are five disciples after one year. They found out there was a huge Deaf Community at Rochester. Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) has a great program for deaf students.   They started to reach out to some students.   It was difficult to communicate with them.   Even though,  Mamta is National Board Certified teacher, New York requires her to take additional classes.   They said she needs a foreign language.   She told them that she speak 5 languages, but they didn’t accept that.   So she thought, she should learn ASL.   This way she can reach out to the deaf students from RIT.

Mamta was also really inspired by the Deaf Ministry from the 2012 World Discipleship Summit in San Antonio, TX.   “It was so great to see them worship”.   She loved to see the songs being signed.   She was inspired by Joe Cepeda, who is so dynamic and positive.   Joe spoke to Moses several times and has initiated to help us start the Deaf Ministry at Rochester.   Hopefully, God will continue to help us grow and one day we will have a Deaf Ministry in Rochester.

Mamta have been really enjoying learning ASL at a community college and has a greater appreciation for those who are deaf.   She can share how she grew up to people in ASL and can hold a little conversation with someone deaf.   Mamta had fun teaching her daughter who has taken a great interest in sign language.   They sign at dinner, since it is not good manners to talk with your mouth full.   It is acceptable to sign.   She is excited about learning more sign language and her goal is to be able to study the Bible with someone in ASL.

Mamta’s favorite book in the Bible is Esther.   God works so powerfully and yet is never mentioned in the book of Esther.    She feels  like Esther in so many ways.   God took her to India to help save her people.   When Mamta was appointed a Women’s Ministry Leader by Carol George (Women’s leader in India), she was given the name Esther.   Her favorite scripture is Jeremiah 29:11.   She feels so special that God has great plans for her.   “The current chapters of my life are being written as we speak”.   She don’t know what the future holds, but she can honestly say “laugh at the days to come”.   There are no worries, God has even better adventures planned for her.

Denise Lotane

My husband, Gregg, and I became disciples nearly 25 years ago in the Washington D.C. Church of Christ. A year after becoming disciples, our first son, Zachary was born. Soon after he was born we noticed he was not responding to sound. After many medical appointments and testing, the doctors informed us that our son was deaf. We were overwhelmed by the fact that we did not know how to communicate with our son.

​After much research we enrolled Zachary into Kendall School on Gallaudet’s campus. Zachary flourished while attending Kendall School as he was taught by deaf educators in American Sign Language. We felt convinced that God wanted us to learn our son’s language and we began taking American Sign Language classes at the school. We fell in love with both the beauty of the language and culture.

​In 1994, our son Nathan was born and Zach was thrilled to have a baby brother. From day one Zach was signing to his brother and quickly became fluent in sign. Our family felt complete. We were relieved that Zach was doing well in school and making new friends in the deaf community. However, around age four, Zach began telling us he was feeling lonely at church because he didn’t have other kids to sign with when we were together with our church family.

​Then, in 1995, the Los Angeles Church of Christ decided to set-up the Church’s first Deaf Mission Team. Deaf disciples and Sign Language interpreters from San Francisco, Washington D.C., and Orange County answered the call to move to Los Angeles. We were thrilled about the prospect of being in a Deaf Ministry, however we felt apprehensive about moving to Los Angeles. There were so many things that needed to be worked out, from jobs to housing and finding a new school for Zach. However, God had a plan and worked out every detail for us to make the move. So, in August of 1995, we packed up our family and moved to Los Angeles.

​Upon arriving in Los Angeles, we realized the privilege of joining the deaf mission team. Zach immediately felt a connection with the church and the deaf disciples. The Deaf Ministry embraced him and helped him feel a part of God’s family. This reminds me of the scripture in Psalms 68:6 that says, “God sets thelonely in families”. This love and acceptance were pivotal in helping Zach make Jesus his Lord at 16 years of age.

​Eighteen years later the Deaf Ministry is thriving. Many deaf and interpreters have been baptized into the Lord through this ministry.  Deaf disciples now lead the ministry and lead services in American Sign Language each month. There is a committed group of sign language interpreters who serve the deaf disciples for every service and event.  The disciples in the Deaf Ministry have been faithful in following our Lord Jesus and spreading the gospel. It is our vision, and we believe God’s vision, that Deaf Communities everywhere be given the opportunity to “hear” the message of Jesus in their own language.

Danny Restrom

I have been signing since my first semester in college back in 1999. I started learning sign language in order to communicate with Jorge, a deaf student that wanted to study the Bible. We studied over the course of several months with the Crespo Family until he decided to get baptized! I spent the following year signing/interpreting for Jorge at all campus events, midweeks, and Sunday services. It was incredibly challenging, but faith building and I would have done it again if given a second chance. I have been involved with the deaf community, interpreting community and the Los Angeles Church of Christ’s Deaf Ministry ever since.

It’s kind of funny actually. Originally I didn’t want to go to the San Antonio Conference. I don’t favor situations where there are large crowds. Well, God had different plans (it seems He always does). In hindsight this was a complete blessing, but going into it there was a lot I was not ready for. I consider myself a sufficient interpreter for Sunday Sermons, midweeks, and small group discussions. But this was going to be an entire stadium full of people!  My wife, the lovely and beautiful Jenn, took care of all of the coordinating. So all I had to do was show up and do my job.

It was great meeting all of the interpreters, deaf and hard of hearing, and others interested in the Deaf Ministry and/or sign language. The week was a blur really and I can’t recall anything specific that impacted me. I do remember how easy it was to work with all of the other volunteer interpreters. You are all great people and are doing a great service in God’s Kingdom. Amen!