By Pam Crosby - Mobile, Alabama - DTQ Regional Coordinator

At Bible Study one night we were asked to be still and listen as someone read several times Luke 5:1-11 which is the story of Jesus sending Peter and the other fishermen into deep waters to fish. The story draws to a close with the well-known statement by Jesus, "Don't be afraid. From now on you'll be fishing for people." And they left everything to follow Jesus. God spoke powerfully through this passage to me. I went home and over the next few weeks I was drawn to this passage again and again.

My early ministry with the deaf community mainly involved interpreting in church and Vacation Bible School for deaf students. An interpreter position opened in our county school system. I became involved in the lives of deaf and hard of hearing teens. It was hard watching them struggle daily with accepting who they were, trying to make sense of life and discovering what they were supposed to do with life.  During this time I became involved in a ministry called Deaf Teen Quest.

Like Simon Peter, I was busy doing what I was used to doing and one day Jesus stepped into my life and said, "put out a little from shore." Then Jesus sat down and began to teach. For me it required several years of listening to His teaching to be ready for His next request, "Put out into deep water and let down the nets for a catch." I wouldn't have had the faith to obey if I hadn’t had His teaching to lead me to that point in my life to where I could obey. God is so faithful.

Through this scripture in Luke, God revealed to me that before my involvement with Deaf Teen Quest, I had been mostly fishing in shallow water. I really did not understand ministry until I started working in the deep waters of deaf teens. Struggling in unchartered waters, doing things that had not been done before, often thrashing around searching for something to grasp a hold of; this is where the real ministry is. All along I had a lifeline in the One who had called me; but it took several years and many times feeling like I was going under for the last time to realize Jesus is the lifeline. I could only survive by doing ministry through His power. To allude to another story of Jesus and Simon, I couldn't walk on water unless I kept my eyes on Jesus.

Like Peter I protested, "Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything." Even though I had worked hard, my ministry up to that point had been unremarkable. However, by listening to His teaching and the faith that developed from that teaching, like Peter I replied, "But because You said so, I will let down my nets."
 
When I let down my nets I got exactly what I was fishing for! But man I was unprepared for the bounty. I was now surrounded by deaf and hard of hearing teens looking to me for answers. It was overwhelming! My nets were about to break. After trying to do mostly by myself and going under, God led me to reach out to others for help. "So they signaled their partners in the other boat to come and help them."
 
The first couple years of DTQ Mobile were mainly myself and one other leader who tired quickly but whose presence for those first few years kept us moving in the right direction. Others came for a season and then left, but again each one still moving us in the right direction. Finally, God has brought together a leadership team that is cohesive and relational. This team leads DTQ Mobile forward.

God opened doors for me to share this ministry with others, and by doing so they pulled their boats up to assist in ways I had never thought to ask. One such boat is my Bible Study group of women around my age who had no previous relationship to deafness. This group passionately loves God and me, and asked, "How can we help?" They now provide meals for our DTQ monthly activities as well as supplies to help our students minister to others.
 
God has also opened doors for me and other interpreters to bring our boats alongside our DTQ deaf staff so that YFC training is more accessible to them. The new "ASL Communication Specialist" role the DTQ National Team is working on has inspired me to improve my skills so that I can truly support our Deaf ministry leaders as they access the many training and leadership opportunities afforded us by Youth for Christ.
 
"When Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus knees and said, "Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!" "Jesus said to Simon, "Don't be afraid; from now on you will catch men." I have often thought, "Who am I, with my level of signing skills and personal disposition, to be worthy enough for Jesus to come and sit in my boat, much less give me such an important job to do? I am just a sinful woman!" I'm right, but God chooses the most unlikely people to do great things for Him when they let Him get into their boat, listen to His teaching, and then obey what He says to do.
 
I encourage you this week to put yourself in this wonderful story, and see how God is using your boat to minister to deaf and hard of hearing teens. You are an important part of this outreach ministry. I think you will be amazed at what God is doing, and will do, through you!
 

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