HOW IT ALL GOT STARTED
So I prayed as the Apostle Paul prayed, “Lord, what wilt Thou have me to do?”
And the Lord quickly started leading me to an awareness of the Deaf and the challenges they face.
Around then, we started watching a TV show where one of the main characters lost her hearing at an early age. In my judgment, they did a superb job of bringing in American Sign Language and Deaf life.
I signed up for my first ASL class at the local community college, and we suddenly began to meet all kinds of people who were fluent in ASL or certified interpreters. Unfortunately, my progress in ASL came to a halt due to a family tragedy, and the process has been hampered in many ways since then, but we remain committed.
We moved from Wisconsin and made a new home in Lynchburg, VA, only to find that Lynchburg is also home to Living Word Deaf Church, an amazing assembly of believers pastored by Deaf Church planter John Wyble.
At LWDC, we have come to embrace the Deaf as our closest friends; not just read about them in a book or preach to them through interpreters. We’ve seen up close and personal their struggles, their joys, their faith and their cries for help and understanding.
We have come to love them, and they seem to love us!
We have held hands and prayed with them and worshiped and rejoiced in the Savior together.
The Lord is still shaping our ministry in ways that often surprise us. But we clearly see that the need is real, and we see ways we believe God is equipping us to respond.
I’m not deaf.
I’m a hearing guy with a broken voice.
Several years ago, I developed involuntary vocal spasms that suddenly made very difficult what used to be such an effortless and fluid thing for me
deal; neurological[FYI, it's a a laryngeal dystonia called spasmodic dysphonia. Google it if you want to know more].
Like someone who suffered a stroke, just saying a very simple sentence like, “Alexa, what’s the temperature outside?” can be extremely frustrating.
You never know how much you depend on your voice until you lose it. I suppose it might be similar to losing one’s ability to hear a human voice.
Wanna know the irony of it?
I’m a former radio announcer and a career lecturer, so I’ve depended on having a clear, pleasant voice more than most. I guess it was the irony that caused four of my friends to burst out laughing when I first told them about my new condition (Personally, I had a little trouble seeing the humor of the situation).
Not one, not two, but three of those four guys came up with the same hilarious "solution" for me:
“So what are you going to do now, Ernie? SIGN to your students?” Invariably, this was accompanied by exaggerated hand motions suggestive of sign language.
It was the second or third time I heard this that it struck me: “Y’know, that might be just what the Lord is doing here!"
There is one group of people who will never have a problem with my voice.