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FBC Samson hosts VBS for deaf; sign language class offers preparationcomment (0)

August 7, 2008

On a recent Saturday, First Baptist Church, Samson, in Geneva Baptist Association hosted its third annual Vacation Bible School (VBS) for the deaf. The event, which draws participants from a 60-mile radius, is part of the church’s ongoing commitment to reaching the deaf community for Christ.

Jerry Pearson, a deaf member of First, Samson, said many of the people he first contacted about the event thought of VBS as something just for children but once they found out more, they were very receptive.

“We’re trying to reach the deaf for the Lord,” Jennifer Totten, VBS coordinator, said. “But it’s also a time for them to fellowship together.”

Samson is a small town in a rural area, she said, so events designed specifically for the small deaf community are rare.

The July 19 VBS began with a morning fellowship coffee followed by an opening rally with music. Participants then broke into classes taught by Bob and Trish Hicks, a husband-and-wife team who work in deaf ministry at Shiloh Baptist Church, Chipley, Fla.

The program this year followed the adult curriculum for LifeWay Christian Resources’ Outrigger Island and ended with a lunch at the church, which was complete with beach-themed door prizes and a grand prize gift card for a vacation.

“We have a great time doing it,” Totten said of the event. She estimates about 35 people attended this year and hopes to offer transportation next year to help even more people participate.

Totten has coordinated the VBS for the deaf since the event’s inception, and she has taken her involvement a step further by participating in the church’s sign language class, which is offered periodically in six- to eight-week sessions.

“This is the first year I’ve been able to sign a complete song,” she said.

The church maintains an ongoing ministry to the deaf with an interpreter in regular worship services and the sign language classes to help members reach out to the deaf community.

“People who don’t take the time to minister to the deaf are really missing a blessing,” Totten said of her experience with the church’s work.

The church also hosts a special worship service geared specifically to the deaf every fifth Sunday.

That service is led by Pearson, who has watched the deaf ministry at the church grow from just two people to the 35 to 50 people attending the special services now, with many driving from other churches and surrounding communities to participate.

“God can do anything,” Pearson said of the growing deaf ministry at First, Samson. “It’s His work, not mine.” (TAB)

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