Do Not Be Shy 2 – Teach Simple

One time I saw a deaf interpreter explain the word “grace” to a deaf class. He explained it as “the undeserved merit of God.” None of the deaf understood it. I instructed him instead to define grace as “God’s free love to sinners.” The worker said, “I cannot do that. I would be ashamed. That is too simple!” Instead, I explained it to the class. They all understood. Nehemiah 8:8 explains how Ezra and Nehemiah taught God’s Word to the people and CAUSED them to understand. Our main goal is to teach and preach so people can understand God’s Word. We need to keep it simple so the basic teachings of God can be understood, believed, accepted and followed.

For many years I taught classes for special deaf kids. This included uneducated, non-signers, mentally and emotionally challenged, and other physical problems. Many times I would teach the simple teaching – God good. I signed this over and over and over and over and over and over until they understood it. Many times other workers would make fun of me and mock the simple teaching methods I used. However, the deaf UNDERSTOOD! Teaching simply is the only way some deaf will ever understand.

The truth is that all people can benefit from some simple teaching. Our purpose is for people to know and understand God’s Word. Simple is the way to teach. Do not be shy or embarrassed about teaching things in a way that would seem elementary or overly simple. The goal is that people can understand. When they understand, they can follow God.

Keep it simple. More about this next time.

If I can be of help, feel free to contact by email: See header

Deliberate Discipleship:

Deliberate Discipleship: An Example

I feel that discipleship is the heartbeat of Jesus Christ and missions. He spent the majority of his time on earth in deliberate discipleship. He started discipling 70 men, and then narrowed it down to 12. From there, He narrowed it down even further to 3 key men. Discipleship is also my heartbeat.

In 1988, during our second term of service in Brazil, I began seriously discipling. I started with 7, then later added another 7, then another 7, and finally another group of 9. I met with the separate groups for 2 hours weekly. I also met with certain individuals for informal discipleship during the week. These informal times were spent in one of two ways: 1) working on their personal lives, or 2) training them in ministry activities.

My ministry goal was to never do any ministry by myself, but I sought to always have a disciple with me. (Later, in a second church plant among the Deaf, I accomplished that by having one or more of my own children accompany me everywhere I went. I gave them similar training to what I gave my deacons and other disciples.)

In 2006, our family returned from Brazil to start Silent Word Ministries International. As I began to travel overseas, my goal became that of training men for deaf ministries. However, I soon found out that many of these men had never been discipled, even though they had Bible college and seminary degrees. Therefore, I began intensive discipleship with these national pastors and leaders. As time has gone by, I have increasingly made discipleship more deliberate.

As SWMI accepted new missionaries, I began to disciple them as well. As I traveled around the USA, I began noticing some very sharp young people, including pastors, missionaries, and students, who needed discipleship. Deliberately I began investing in several of them. I have seen them grow tremendously, especially in their personal and intimate walk with Jesus Christ. However, I became burdened that I needed to spend even more time in deliberate discipleship.

In the last 14 months, I have had 3 different Deliberate Discipleship Retreats (DDRs). I have 3 more planned for this year. These retreats last 7 days and begin at 6:30 am each morning. Recently, I had a DDR with 7 men in ministry, three of them being Deaf. Two are missionaries, three pastor churches for the Deaf, and two lead deaf ministries in hearing churches. I was thrilled to see the men grow in their personal intimacy with Jesus Christ as they learned to walk in the Garden of God with Christ.

Discipleship is the heartbeat of missions. Discipleship is my heartbeat. The multiplication of men for ministry drives me. What are YOU doing to deliberately disciple others? SWMI is in the business of discipling men and women for ministry!
(Contact me for my complete manual on discipleship).

Steve & Joyce Houghton

40 Years in Deaf Ministry
(Contributed by Pastor Gary Martin, HBC)

Heritage Baptist Church in St. Augustine, FL, honored Steve and Joyce Houghton for 40 years of ministry to the deaf at the 11th annual “Super Saturday for the Deaf” hosted by the church, January 28. There were 125 Deaf and hearing present for this special event. The church presented Bro. Steve and Joyce a special church love offering. An offering was also given by the deaf. We also had a special cake in their honor at lunch. Some of their children and friends were able to attend this special event.
Steve and Joyce learned sign language while attending Tennessee Temple University in Chattanooga, TN. After graduation, they went to Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, FL, where they ministered to the deaf full time for 17 years.
Steve and Joyce came to Heritage Baptist Church in the 90’s and established the deaf ministry. The ministry is now under the direction of Dan and Charity Rakoncay. The Houghtons also helped establish an annual week of deaf camp in Florida. They are currently establishing deaf ministries throughout the state of Florida, including teaching sign language, deaf outreach, etc. Churches in Florida who are interested in establishing a deaf ministry can contact Bro. Houghton at 904-392-6605.
We congratulate Steve and Joyce Houghton for 40 years of faithful service to the Lord and to the deaf.

Welcome to my Deaf World

This year I traveled to Harvest Deaf Men’s Retreat in Pigeon Forge, TN, and to SWM Men’s Retreat in Trenton, GA. I was excited to learn the Word of God from ten different speakers. I thank God that I did learn more Word of God. I also preached at SWM Deaf Men’s Retreat. I also preached in two churches. I preached at deaf chapels at Belle Meadows Baptist Church in Bristol, VA, and also at Shenadoah Baptist Church in Cleveland, TN. The deaf leaders wanted me to come to help and encourage their deaf people. I also helped in two Fantastic Saturdays. I helped Jon Barr at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Trenton, GA, and at Forrest Hills Baptist church in Snellville, GA. These were good meetings.

Good News! Praise the Lord three deaf people from Pennsylvania got saved in February. The SWM video phone flashed at the office. I answered and it was Deaf people who asked me about the Bible. I signed with them about the Gospel of Christ and they got saved on video phone. It was exciting. I thank God for them calling me. Let me encourage you to witness to your deaf friends with text, Facebook, and video phone. Thanks for traveling with me in my Deaf world.

Deaf need spiritual help… Contact Allen by clicking here.

Deaf Can Be Spiritually Healthy

When I travel to meetings I must stop and eat. I eat at McDonald’s, Arby’s, Wendy’s and other fast food places. I love McDonald’s French fries. They are better than other fast foods. My weight goes up because my stomach becomes fat. Sometimes my pants become small. I have to use both hands to pull up the waist. I hate increase weight from fast foods. I frustrate easy. I must learn to control my food. I decided to eat two times and walk 3 miles a day. Sometimes I become lazy and do not walk. I need to control my eat and my health. It is not easy.

Christians need to also stay spiritually healthy. Sometimes it is easy to enjoy things of the world that make us spiritual unhealthy. We need to go on a diet from the world and enjoy Bible reading, praying and going to church more. The Bible says, “Be filled with the spirit… always give thanks to God the Father for everything.” (Ephesians 5:17-20). The Deaf can be spiritually healthy. Let the Spirit control your life. Do not let your body control you. We need to put on the good things of God and put off the bad things of this world. “But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds; And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him” (Col.3:8-10).

We need to put on kindness, love, joy and peace that make us healthy. We need to put off bitterness, strife, and sin that makes us fat – as the french fries. Let’s seek to be good healthy Christians for God.

“What is Your Sweet Spot?”

From My Home to Yours

Recently I was asked, “What is your sweet spot?” Also I noticed some signs that say, “Your ‘happy place.’” What does that mean? All of us have a sweet spot or a happy place. Every woman has one or two things that she enjoys doing that gives her extra joy, peace, and happiness. Some enjoy cooking while others enjoy shopping. Some enjoy running while others enjoy cleaning. Some enjoy mind games while others enjoy computers. Some enjoy indoors while others enjoy outdoors. What do you enjoy?

I remember one of our granddaughter’s first day at school. Maya is very shy and she had a hard time in kindergarten with so many new people. If she became afraid or sad, the teacher would take her to the library. Maya would sit and read and smile. Why? Because she was in her sweet spot. All of us have that special sweet spot where we are comfortable and cozy. When we are there, we relax and smile. What makes me smile may make you frown. Your sweet spot might make my head swim! Everyone is made special by God. That is His fingerprint on our lives. It is amazing how each one of us is made to do something special for Him. That is His gift to you. When you use it, that is your gift to Him. That is what makes the body of Christ. All of us fit together to do His work. It will be a real joy for you to serve the Lord when you do what He has gifted you to do. “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him” (I Cor. 12:18). Find your sweet spot and do it. Let the love of Jesus shine out of you as you enjoy doing what makes your heart sing! You were made to give God the glory. Do it with all your heart, soul, and smile! As Ted Camp says, “Ministry was made to enjoy, not endure.”

Hungry or Satisfied?

I enjoy shopping, but not for fancy things nor expensive things. I am hungry for bargains. Flea markets, thrift stores, resale stores, discount stores, even some salvage stores are some of my favorite places. I am excited when there is a need (whether for myself, my family, the SWM office, Fantastic Saturday prizes, gifts for others, or just about anything), and I find it at a bargain price. I take advantage of coupons, specials, rebates, rewards, or other discounts. And the best time is when I can get all of those at the same time! I enjoy telling others about the good deals I got, the new discount stores in town, or a way to save money or earn points when ordering online. Some of the saddest shopping days for me are when I hunt and hunt and still have to pay full price; when I buy something, thinking it is a good deal, only to find a better price a day or two later; or when it has been a while since shopping, but there are not really any needs – no bargains to search for!

Revelation 3:17 says the church at Laodicea felt they had “need of nothing.” They were satisfied with their things and with their spiritual lives. They thought they did not need more from the Lord. They were not hungry for Him to work in their lives. It seems many Christians in America are the same. When first saved, they wanted to learn and grow. They searched the Bible to learn the ways of following God and pleasing Him with their lives. They listened fervently to preaching, desiring God to touch their hearts. When they prayed about a need and God answered it, they told many others. However, as time passed, the tendency was to become satisfied. They had read the Bible, heard it preached many times, seen people accept the Lord, heard testimonies, and sung songs. There was little hunger for God.

A hunger for bargains may cause us to spend hours hunting for them, days researching the best brands and best prices, and time cutting out coupons and sending in rebates. What will a hunger for God do? Will we spend time digging in the Bible for God’s message for us; love people enough to give them the Gospel and teach them; pray earnestly for spiritual needs around us; renew our amazement of God’s love and care for us? We must not be satisfied spiritually. Let us become hungry for the things of God!

Time for a Checkup

Every year I get a letter from my primary doctor reminding me it is time for my annual physical checkup. Since I alone am responsible for my health, I made the appointment. After I told her about a few problems I was experiencing, she did her examination.

From that examination, she decided I needed a pelvic CT (cat scan) which was followed by a chest CT. From the results of the cat scans, I was sent to several “specialists,” an Endocrinologist, Pulmonologist, Gastroenterologist, and Cardiologist. These “specialists” ordered a colonoscopy, endoscopy, echocardiogram, EKG, three ultra sounds in three different areas, a thyroid biopsy, blood analysis, and a mammogram.

The results are in. Thankfully and gratefully I have been diagnosed only with “AGE” or “aging.” Of course, all I need to see that problem is simply to look in the mirror. (At this point, I guess I will die healthy.) Still, as long as the Lord allows me to live, I will continue to keep a check on my health since my body is the temple of the Holy Spirit.

What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (I Corinthians 6:19,20).

Let me also state, whatever our health issues are, we can still glorify God. I know many who suffer greatly from disease, and their lives are beautiful examples of God’s glory.

Spiritual Checkup

While a routine yearly physical checkup is important and can detect heath problems, a spiritual health checkup should be done more often. As we examine ourselves in light of the Scriptures, we can detect problems that can hinder our relationship with the Lord.

Consider this article from Our Daily Bread
(used by permission).

“We can checkup on our spiritual health by asking a few questions based on the great commandment, ‘And thou shalt love the Lord thy God, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment’ (Mark 12:30).

“Do I love God with all my heart because He first loved me? Which is stronger, my desire for earthly gain or the treasures that are mine in Christ? ‘If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God’ (Colossians 3:1).

He desires that His peace rule in our hearts.

“Do I love God with all my soul? Do I listen to God telling me who I am? Am I moving away from self-centered desires? Am I becoming more compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, and patient? ‘Put on bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering’ (Colossians 3:12).

“Do I love God with all my mind? Do I focus on my relationship with His Son, Jesus, or do I let my mind wander wherever it wants to go? ‘Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth’ (Colossians 3:2).

“Do my thoughts lead to problems or solutions? To unity or division? Forgiveness or revenge? ‘Forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye’ (Colossians 3:13).

“Do I love God with all my strength? Am I willing to be seen as weak so that God can show His strength on my behalf? ‘And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus...’ (Colossians 3:17).

“Am I relying on His grace (not self) to be strong in His Spirit? Exchange your strength for His.”

What is your answer to these questions?

To keep physically healthy, we may need to see many different specialists, and we should follow their instructions. But to keep spiritually healthy, I am glad we do not need to run from one “specialist” to another. We can go directly to our Great Physician, Jesus Christ. He has the answers to all our problems. The answers are in our reach, lovingly written down in His Word. He asks us to apply His truths to our daily lives. By following His instructions and obeying His commands, we can be spiritually healthy. This is written because I care… Carlene.

“Bootcamp” for all Deaf Leaders

There are some very exciting “new” things happening at Silent Word. One is our new website: BootCamp4Deaf.com. This website is designed specifically for leaders of the Deaf in America and throughout the world. The Bootcamp program is designed to help teach and train ministries in fulfilling the Great Commission. It will give help, training, encouragement and direction to both seasoned and novice leaders for the Deaf. It will offer various topics that relate to your deaf ministry. We will offer proven programs that have been successful. We often say, “Learn how to do it right the first time.” We offer solutions to common challenges of starting, building and continuing a strong Deaf ministry. We have trusted teachers with many years experience in ministering especially to the Deaf. We have special videos for all leaders both Deaf and Hearing. One goal of SWM has always been to be a friend and help to all. We are now in the early stages and will be adding more and more sessions as we go. We are excited about this new ministry and hope you will check it out. Give your suggestions and comments. Let us know what you think. View: bootcamp4deaf.com

Also Ted Camp has a new monthly email program: “Link to Deaf Leaders.” Both it and Bootcamp will help your deaf ministry. You can subscribe by clicking here and ask to be added to “Link to Deaf Leaders.”

Together as a team we can do more for Christ!

Why ASL?

Newcomers to sign language are often surprised to learn that ASL word order is not decided by the pattern Subject-Verb-Object. Instead, ASL must make sense visually, as when drawing a picture. The sign order can change because of what is emphasized. Also, signs can change because of the signer’s opinions, attitude, mood, or feelings. Therefore, one idea could be signed many different ways. ASL is an expressive language. Much information is shown on the face. New signers must learn how to express ASL, and not just learn the signs. People who know ASL well tend to watch a signer’s face more than their hands because deaf listen with their eyes.

Even though deaf professors created Manually Coded English (MCE) systems for Signing Exact English (SEE-1 and SEE-2), these systems cause many arguments in the Deaf community. It seems to be impossible to fit the structure and words of a spoken language into visually expressive language. Therefore, interpreters are needed.

Hearing people who learn sign language tend to “Sign English” before they fully learn ASL. Deaf people often adapt and sign back to them using a basic type of signing, Pidgin Signed English (PSE). But those hearing signers often cannot understand Deaf people signing ASL among themselves. You cannot think (or speak) in English and sign ASL. Deaf-Hearing groups must have patience with others who struggle with the language barrier. When SWM conducts meetings using Simultaneous Communication (Sim-Com), we recognize that both languages will suffer. In those meetings, the Bible-based message of the day is more important than the purity of either language. SWM encourages everyone to adapt and learn to communicate with the indiviuals in front of them, whatever the language.

Adapted from Matthew S. Moore and Linda Levitan, For Hearing People Only (New York: Deaf Life Press, 2003), p. 69-73.

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