In August 2018 I was driving to Maryland with my friend, Joe Dixon who is the pastor of Signs of Grace Deaf Church. We stopped at a rest area, and I gently touched his arm so he would know to look at me. He turned so he could read my lips and I said to him, “Joe, God is going to break me this weekend. I don’t know what about but I am sure I am going to get crushed while we are in Maryland!” He smiled and nodded. He didn’t say anything. He didn’t have to. We knew that Jesus was going to speak and we were ready, kind of.
Joe and I arrived at Claggett Center in Maryland and set up the room for our LEAD Launch Weekend. Our first-year LEAD students were coming in from Eastern Pennsylvania and Maryland, and we were excited. We were launching our first ever LEAD Cohort in American Sign Language (ASL). There were going to be obstacles and mishaps, and we were pumped!
To get the weekend going our students introduce themselves. There was a mixture in our group of both hearing and deaf. Interpreters where about the room and Brandt stood up to introduce himself. He walked to the front of the room, smiled and began to sign. “Hello, my name is Brandt.” He told the students and Cohort Directors about his home church, his family, a little about his YWAM background. Then, Brandt said in beautiful sign, “I desire to follow Jesus into full-time ministry, and LEAD is giving me the opportunity to say yes to God’s call. I can’t wait to serve Jesus full-time and bring the gospel to those who have never heard of Jesus as we have.”
Just a little perspective will be helpful to the story at this point. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 5% of the global population is considered deaf. That is 360 million people. According to an article written by Chad Entinger called, “The Deaf: An Unreached People Unlike Any Other” only 2% of the global deaf population believe in Jesus Christ and call themselves Christians. These are staggering numbers. So when we train four deaf ministry leaders to be Kingdom Advancers and Pastors we are having an impact upon a lost, neglected, and left-behind people. They are truly unreached. The equipping of deaf ministry leaders is a BIG deal.
2% of the global deaf population believe in Jesus Christ and call themselves Christians
So this is how God moved in me. While Brandt was sharing a bit about his background and calling to the ministry the thoughts and attitudes of my heart were challenged by the Holy Spirit. You see, I had thought that the deaf, disabled, “broken” needed to be ministered to. I believed in our tagline at LEAD that we would be part of “equipping men and women to be ministry leaders,” but I didn’t completely believe one of the mantras that we have at LEAD which is,
“It will take all of us to reach everyone.”
As Brandt introduced himself Holy Spirit gently, quietly searched me and knew me in my innermost being and right there in the right-side back-row God used Brandt to break me. I repented, I am still repenting of my thoughts and attitudes concerning who can be a ministry leader and who is not. Holy Spirit has changed my mind about who he calls to be ministry leaders. He calls them, he matures them, he ultimately equips them, and he allows me and the LEAD team to have a front row seat to watch him transform ministry leaders.
I now know with all my soul that it will take all of us no matter our setbacks, barriers, or language. We have to reach everyone regardless of their holdups, hangups, or culture.
Co-Founder, Executive Director of The LEAD Program
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Watch this short video of Brandt describing his leadership journey and how LEAD is equipping him.