Content and proud of his accomplishments he headed off to college ready to start his life, but was told he couldn’t play college football because he didn’t know sign language. Ben was also told he couldn’t be a pastor — his heart’s desire at the time — because he was deaf. This smart, loving, capable man felt frustration, but was determined to achieve God’s purposes for his life, when the time was right.
In Colorado Springs, Linda Keller discovered a passion and aptitude for American Sign Language (ASL). She’s a sweet, energetic, hearing woman who loves Jesus. She worked hard to learn ASL and joyfully serves Woodmen’s Deaf community. Linda, and others who serve the Deaf community, felt called to organize Deaf missions trips. Until this summer, for one reason or another this dream was delayed. Linda was waiting patiently for God’s purposes. The time would come.
Listening with the Heart
These stories and many others will come together when Ben, Linda and eight others travel to the Dominican Republic this August to meet more than 100 kids like Nico and Carmen at the Santo Domingo School for the Deaf.
This will be a rst for Woodmen: A mission trip, with team members uent in ASL, traveling overseas speci cally to share God’s love with members of the Deaf community. The team could not be more excited; the road to this point was not easy. The journey has been one of prayer, determination and God’s faithfulness. But sometimes the most dif cult things in life are the sweetest in the end.
It all began when Ben stood up in a meeting at Woodmen and said, “I’d like to see a Deaf community group at our church, a Deaf Bible study, maybe even a Deaf mission trip. Deaf people want more ways to get involved.” By this time, Ben was a part of the Deaf community, but he didn’t become a part of it because he wanted to — God wanted him to.
A New Identity During college, after his football coach refused to let him play until he learned sign language, Ben’s irritation turned into determination to learn ASL so he could play. “I was mad,” he says. “I didn’t have a heart for it. I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever.’ I only wanted to learn ASL to play football. How hard could it be?”
Turns out, it’s hard — very hard! It took many years, and a lot of perseverance, but Ben learned ASL. In the process, he met a whole new group of people — the Deaf. “One night during college I went to church and saw a woman there signing and praising God,” he says. “It really touched my heart. From that moment on my perspective on ASL changed.”
During college, Ben also attended a youth conference. He remembers sitting in the front with a friend who is a Deaf pastor. “There were two interpreters provided for us. I remember looking around at all of the people who were hearing, and I thought, ‘Where are the Deaf people? Why are they not here?”