My name is Joe Cepeda. I am a Deaf disciple and in June 1999, I founded the Deaf Ministry International Church of Christ (DMICOC) and dmicoc.org, a website to connect and encourage Deaf Ministries worldwide. I have been married to Chante for five years and have four beautiful daughters. We are part of the Mission Point Christian Church in San Antonio, Texas. I am writing to express my spiritual vision and unity of growing the Deaf Ministry within our churches.
I have had profound nerve hearing loss since the age of five. I was baptized on November 21, 1996, repenting of blaming my deafness on God and gaining a strong heart of perseverance to see God in heaven one day. The next year, God gave me a special gift to lead in the Deaf ministry, because I realized my life can be a great example in reaching out to the Deaf community. I am very blessed to be fluent in American Sign Language (ASL) with over 25 years of Deaf community experience since college.
Deaf disciples have an incredible opportunity to not only reach out to their local Deaf communities, but to be advocates in our churches in explaining the needs of Deaf Ministry. I believe a Deaf disciple should have strong outreach skills and the desire to train new Deaf disciples. Those unfamiliar with Deaf Ministry should contact large Deaf Ministries in different cities and spend quality time with them for spiritual and ministry training, in order to build these ministries in their local churches.
In the United States, a great way to offer Deaf Ministry support is to learn basic American Sign Language (ASL) signs and phrases. There are four effective ways of learning ASL for beginners: attend a monthly Deaf community event in your local area, develop a good friendship with a Deaf person and communicate in ASL without using your voice, sit with the Deaf Ministry to watch interpreter(s) during worship services, and download the free Deaf Bible app to watch daily Deaf devotionals and learn religious signs.
There is more to learn and share regarding the rich language and culture of Deaf people. I pray as a church we will have this community on our hearts in outreach. Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or advice about the Deaf Ministry. You can also find us on Facebook.