- Ernest Richards
The Journey of April Joy
Updated: Jan 5, 2021
April Joy is 38 years old and a single mom.
She was just 14 when she entered the world of drugs. The death of her own mom (who was also her best friend) several years back escalated her usage.
April is deaf, but highly “oral” – she speaks well in English and can catch much of a conversation by reading lips, facial expressions, etc. Still, Sign Language is an easier and more natural mode of communication. The hard circumstances of April's life led her to give up her two daughters, whom she is now trying to win back.
Months ago, our daughter, Carissa, and her husband, B.J., told us about this upbeat and outgoing deaf woman next door, who seemed impressed with their ministry and was eager to make friends. We couldn't wait to meet her and started praying for an opportunity. Finally, we volunteered to bring a homemade Christmas gift from Living Word Deaf Church to her house, only to find she no longer lived there, and had in fact moved twice since Carissa and B.J. met her.
Other than my words, all of what follows, including captions, is taken right from April Joy’s Facebook page (under the name “Joy Wild,” often speaking of herself in the third person):
We learned that April once attended Living Word Deaf Church, but we still weren’t sure if she truly knew Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. Another hearing member of our Deaf Church still had contact with April through Facebook. Through her, we learned April was now homeless and had gotten deeper into the life of drugs.
After April accepted my “friend request,” I messaged that we were Carissa’s parents and had been praying for her and would love to meet and talk with her. Of course, it helped tremendously that April had been very impressed by Carissa and BJ! I became convinced that this was all THE LORD’S PERFECT TIMING! In response to April’s cries of desperation on Facebook (see below), I assured her that she was in no way “worthless,” but that Christ loved her tremendously and died for her and she was truly precious in His sight.
Soon after, April contacted Denise Wyble, the wife of LWDC Pastor John Wyble (Denise had not heard from her for years). She told Denise she had hit bottom and was desperate to get off drugs, get her life turned around and get her daughters back.
Denise Wyble went down alone to the roughest section of Lynchburg and got April Joy from the abandoned house where she and other homeless people were staying, and took her into the Wyble home. Denise spent many hours with April, including 6 straight hours making phone calls just trying to find and get her placed in a long term drug rehabilitation facility that would accommodate a deaf woman. After much frustration, she was finally able to find one in Minnesota.
Soon after, Karen and I were finally able to meet April Joy and help her in some small ways. We now have a connection. In the meantime, she stayed at a Women’s Home in Roanoke, waiting for her final acceptance at the facility in Minnesota.
April Joy completed a 28 day intensive treatment for drug rehabilitation and has been “clean” for 83 consecutive days as of today (September 11, 2019). The experts say it will take one whole year to be sure the drugs are out of her system and she is in minimal danger of becoming addicted again.
We learned that April Joy trusted Christ as her Savior in 2006. It seems very definite and clear to her that she is a child of God.
However, April Joy was never adequately DISCIPLED.
Like any believer, April needs to grow in her understanding of who God is, what Christ has done for her, and how to live the life that pleases Him. She needs to “Grow in Grace, and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ!” We gave her a Bible and other printed materials, but April told me she needs to have printed materials in “Easy English.” That’s because English is a second language to April, and to most Deaf people. English is NOT the “language of (her) heart;” American Sign Language IS.
I see April (and so many Deaf individuals like her!) as a STRONG SELLING POINT FOR THE URGENT NEED OF AN ASL VERSION OF GOOD DISCIPLESHIP MATERIALS SUCH AS “GROWING IN GRACE!”
ENDNOTE: April has just agreed to meet for a regular Bible study with Ernie and Karen that will begin on Tuesday, September 17. We will be going through the video series, "Growing in Grace for the Deaf;" the ASL version of Ernie's book, "Growing in Grace."