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  • Writer's pictureJanet Richey

"Just Say Yes!"

Updated: Apr 28

Dad had a propensity for hernias and kidney stones, which is probably why he was in the hospital the day he had THE dream. Standing before God, Dad asked if he was going to heaven or hell. The silent, shadowy figure pointed his thumb downwards. “Hell?!” he screamed. “Hell?!” he asked again.

This dream was particularly troubling for a man who had been deaf since infancy. He was blessed with loving parents who chose to put him in a residential deaf school where, in addition to the rudiments of math and English, was taught how to read lips and speak without being able to hear his voice. Those 12 years of education created not only an intuitive learner and effective communicator, but also a man with a drive to prove to everyone that he could do just about anything.

That included taking solo trips across state borders to visit his high school sweetheart, a pretty girl named Sally, who he married and started a family with. Those frustrating and often-times lonely stretches of being separated from his parents had surely paid off.

While the Jesus Movement was gaining momentum on the other side of the country, my older sister brought the gospel into our household through the local chapter of Child Evangelism Fellowship. Perhaps that hospital-bed dream took up residence in his head as Dad dug into the scriptures and sought out mentors. Even though we lived in a tiny coal-mining town with a population that could fit into a high school football stadium, God placed some godly deaf and hearing people in his path that encouraged him, prayed over him, and gave valuable instruction. Eventually they became part of a team whose mission was to reach the deaf in a hearing world, a relatively unreached demographic at the time.

And boy, were they hungry for it.

From his humble beginnings in a Sunday school room of the First Baptist Church to leading an all-deaf non-denominational congregation for 40 years with revivals, crusades, and even a presence in Jamaica, Dad preached to a community that he loved. My dad had this heart-warming ability to take a relatively obscure or hard-to-understand piece of scripture, and explain it to his people in a way that they could apply it, and all without watering it down. He spoke their language, in the truest sense of its meaning, and he delivered it with a smile and a glint in his eye that transcended any auditory impairment.

This is a man, whose deafness wasn’t diagnosed until he was five years old, was almost committed to an institution with the word “asylum” in it. Instead of making excuses, Dad said “yes”.

God didn’t ask Dad to do something he hated, God invited him to further His kingdom with the gifts he already had, doing things he enjoyed doing, like meeting people and traveling. God, in his lavish love, allowed him to experience purpose, identity beyond his deafness, and joy.

You are (hopefully!) reading this of your own free will. If you’re reading this of your own free will, then God probably wants you to be a part of His kingdom. And if you’re part of His kingdom, He definitely wants you serving. If you’re not serving, then what’s holding you back? A physical disability? A crowded schedule? Or maybe you’re afraid you won’t fit in.

In 1 Corinthians 2, the apostle Paul takes the first five verses to share how unqualified he was to preach the gospel, and why God used him anyway. This is the same guy who played a major role in how we should live out our Christianity. Paul said “yes”.

Perhaps you don’t believe you’re qualified to be a greeter one Sunday a month, work in the food pantry, or boldly share your testimony in front of a bunch of people you hardly know, but the Bible says otherwise. And if you’re not sure where to start, take an on-line spiritual gifts survey*, check out the needs of the various ministries within your church, and above all else, pray, and patiently wait for an answer. Perhaps your obedience won’t influence Christianity for thousands of years, but it could influence people in your own back yard, within your lifetime. That is a reason to say “yes”.

* Click here for an online Spiritual Gifts Survey

By: Janet Richey (from Living Water Community Church)

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