December 2017 Prayer Letter
As this year comes to a close, we give thanks for the many people who consistently pray for us and financially support our unique missionary ministry to Deaf people. “The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Proverbs 10:22). Our true riches lie ahead of us, in Heaven, but the joys and blessings of reaching and teaching people for Christ are our certain “riches” in this life.
Meetings Report – American Sign Language Institutes (ASLI) are annual workshops we started in 2000 to help church interpreters improve their signing skills so they can more effectively minister to Deaf people in their churches and areas. Sign language is a much misunderstood, but very specialized skill. Along with ASLI, we also conduct Deaf Bible Conferences, so churches can bring their whole deaf ministries. Combined totals for 2017 ASLI/DBC in Trenton, Georgia, and Collegeville, Pennsylvania are: Attendance 159, Deaf 42, States 19, Salvation Decisions 5, Other Decisions 38. This fall we conducted deaf ministry Fantastic Saturdays in St. Louis, Missouri; West Bend, Wisconsin; and Huntington, West Virginia. Fantastic Saturdays are area-wide, all day deaf ministry workshops conducted in selected cities. Both Deaf and hearing people benefit from the encouraging day. In fact, two groups drove over 2½ hours to attend the West Virginia meeting. It is exciting to report this year’s totals from all Fantastic Saturdays: Attendance 854, Deaf 446, Hearing 508, Churches 107, Salvation Decisions 6, Other Decisions 96. Soon we will be conducting our Deaf Men’s Retreat (January 25-27, 2018), which is open to all (Y’all come!).
Local Deaf Ministry – We thank God that we are also involved in ministry to Deaf people locally. Diane and I both interpret and teach at Piney Grove Baptist Church in Trenton, where we are members. Outside of church hours, we also interpret for local deaf people for their appointments, certain phone calls, and more. As needed, we assist and advise as friends and mentors. This year we have assisted Deaf people with great challenges such as homelessness, family trials, health needs, and needs for salvation, and spiritual growth. Please pray for these needs, and for us as we minister to them. Also, several of the local Deaf people also volunteer at Silent Word Ministries, which gives us even more opportunities to teach and minister to them. Deaf ministry takes much time, and we are thankful the Lord has called us to this often-neglected culture/language group of people.
This Coming Year – In planning the upcoming year, we realize a special need. As you may know, Diane and I are also on the SWM Executive Operating Board (EOB) to help oversee the operations of SWM, and I am Director of the Silent Word Mission Board (SWMB). Diane is our SWM office Bookkeeper, serving the ministry and SWMB. It is the policy of SWM that those in leadership must also raise their own support. Because of our much-needed time in these areas, plus our Fantastic Saturdays and other meetings, we have been unable, as other missionaries, to do regular furlough ministry to raise additional funds. I now ask you to prayerfully consider (1) a one-time gift which will be placed in our Supplemental Fund to help until we raise additional support, or (2) monthly support – freeing us to serve in these areas where the Lord has called and placed us (as the Apostles – Acts 6:2). Gifts may be designated “support” or “one-time gift.” Together we can do even more for the Lord.
This has been a highly productive, encouraging, and exciting year. This year in all areas of SWM, there have been 508 salvation decisions. We also have produced new deaf ministry literature, videos, and teaching and training materials. Deaf people are a language/culture group scattered across the country and around the world. Often they have no church or interpreter in church. These materials give them easier access to God’s Word, and many have expressed their appreciation. We thank you for sharing in these blessings through your prayers and support.
For Deaf Souls,
Jon and Diane Barr,
Your Missionaries to the Deaf