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.