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  • Ernest Richards

Torii's Testimony

Updated: Aug 27, 2021

How I Got Saved?

I was born hearing but I became deaf when I was a baby.

I grew up going to the church with my grandmother sometimes and also went to a different church somewhere in Nelson County with my siblings when I was about 5 years old. The church borrowed or owned a yellow school bus and they often picked us up as well as other kids sometimes on Sundays. We played games, made crafts, and played outside.

We had a few Sunday school teachers but I never had an interpreter so I never understood what they were teaching at all. They even gave me a cute red Bible book but yet I didn’t know how read too because of language deprivation. Long story short, when I became deaf, I was cut off from language from age 0 - 7 or so. There weren’t great resources for the deaf and hard of hearing community in my hometown.

My parents didn’t know what was the best for me. At least they did take the basic sign language class so that way they could communicate with me. There were two unqualified "interpreters" in my regular classes but they weren’t proficient in American Sign Language. They simply thought the speech therapy would help me to read better and speak well; just be like hearing people. I’m not going into details about language deprivation but if you want more information, you could look up Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf Kids (LEAD-K).

We had a few Sunday school teachers but I never had an interpreter so I never understood what they were teaching at all.

Anyway back to my story, while the sweet Sunday school teacher was teaching me and others in the classroom but I got so bored easily and so restless.

I remember I saw many wall pictures of angels, ancient people, and Jesus on the cross. I believe my siblings got saved even my sister remembered I was with them that we got saved but I don’t really remember at all. Also we grew up visiting my grandmother’s house and she had a huge picture of Jesus’s last supper with his followers in the living room. My grandma used to have a Bible beside her favorite rocking chair. My best friend and I went to the Deaf camp at the Bill Rice Ranch for one or two week in Murfreesboro, Tennessee when I was 9. This Deaf ministry is to reach Deaf and Hard of Hearing young people with the Gospel. So many fun activities at the camp and we had a blast! We rode horses, played the games, swam in the pool, food, and so many things. We had church services and classes one to three times each day everyday.

I remember watching a Deaf preacher shared God’s work and seeing many Deaf people stood up and went to the altar and prayed with the preacher(s). The preacher shared the great news that these Deaf people got saved. At this point I was like what "saved?" I just simply wanted to play and be active rather than sitting in the church.

I don’t remember what year or what season but I think I was about 8 or 9. I was sleeping on the top bunk by the window while my sisters were sleeping on the bottom. I had a dream and I truly believed it was REAL. While I was dreaming, I saw myself waking up because I was always sensitive to the light. I saw the light right outside the window and I climbed out to see where the light came from. I saw a bright light from heaven and a big hand reaching out to me. I remember how peaceful I felt and I was about to grab His hand then I suddenly woke up. It felt very real. I have not doubt that my dream was real.

Anyway, you can see why many deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf-blind did not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ. IT IS BECAUSE OF LANGUAGE DEPRIVATION. My heart hurts (for the Deaf who don't know Christ).

Fast forward, I was 14 and the summer break was coming to an end, I was very much looking forward to seeing my friends at the Deaf school. My dad took me to Living Word Baptist Church for Vacation Bible Study (VBS) for a week just before the Deaf Church was founded called Living Word Deaf Church. Anyway, there was a small group for deaf, hard of hearing, and children with a deaf sibling. I think it was about 6 or 7 of us and I was the oldest kid of a small group.

The pastor’s wife, Nancy was teaching us about God the Father, Jesus, and Holy Spirit, sharing the verses, and making the crafts. When the week was almost over, Nancy asked each of us if we are saved. The hearing child of deaf sibling and I were the only ones who weren’t saved. I never forgot Nancy’s wild eyes and said “if you died you WILL go to hell. Jesus died on the cross for our sins” I remember how terrified I was and my heart was pounding hard. She explained how to pray and believe in Jesus that He is the only way of salvation whenever I’m ready. So my parents picked me up and went home, then family dinner, watched TV, and got ready to go to bed but I was still thinking hard about what Nancy said. And I could feel that Jesus prompted and somewhat nagging on my heart.

While I was lying on a water bed and I signed “Jesus, I am sorry for what I have done bad things. Thank you for dying for my sins. I believe in you and accept Jesus as my Savior.”

I suddenly felt something different in a positive way. I knew I put my trust in Jesus for salvation and now he is my new companion for the rest of my life. The next day was on the last day of VBS and I informed Nancy about my salvation, she was very thrilled and told her husband then the group, they all were excited for me. I am sure you may wonder whether if the child with deaf sibling got saved or not, unfortunately do not know if she actually got saved but I certainly hope she did later in her life.

As of now I know I am not living my life right but I’m trying to change for better, repent, turn back to God and read the Bible again. I have made a lot of mistakes. I know the Holy Spirit is still tugging at my heart. You can pray for me, please!

Anyway, you can see why many deaf, hard of hearing, and deaf blind did not know the Gospel of Jesus Christ because of language deprivation. My heart hurts. Ok, that is all for now. I hope you enjoy reading my story. That’s my journey. -Torii

NOTE: I wanted Torii to speak for herself, in her own words. She graciously gave me full permission to edit as I felt necessary, but I kept my editorial interference to a minimum.

* BTW, "Deaf" is capitalized when the word refers to the Deaf community and culture, where ASL is the chief means of communicating. When "deaf" appears with a lower case "d," it normally refers to the medical condition of deafness.

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