When I was in the first grade, my mom had a stellar idea: She and I would attend a class and learn Sign Language together. That first Monday night we headed over to the campus for class, only to discover that I was the only child in a room full of adults.
The teacher was perfectly fine with me attending and encouraged both mom and me to keep coming. I don’t recall how many classes we went to, but I learned enough to teach my brother, so that we could talk to each other in church without getting into trouble. (Quite a win for 2 Preacher’s kids!)
I continued to learn a little here and there over the next 8 years, gradually adding to my vocabulary. I bought books, watched shows, read articles, anything to gain knowledge about American Sign Language (ASL) and the Deaf Community.
After my sophomore year of high school, my parents led a church camp for the summer. Another young man working at the camp was a Seminary Student named Marty, who was studying Deaf Ministry. He taught sign language classes every week that summer and I didn’t miss one. I couldn’t get enough and at the end of the Summer, Marty put me in touch with Barbara Porter, who led the Ministry for Deaf and Hard of Hearing at First Baptist in Columbia, SC.
Mrs. Porter spent time with me and helped me organize my thoughts and abilities. She recommended me for a teaching role for a Continuing Education Class at the University of South Carolina. I was a junior in high school, and taught at USC for 2 years. I also started interpreting during this period, as the Lord opened door after door.
I will finish this story next time. What strikes me as amazing is the way God put things together in life at the times when I could move forward.