The YFC Deaf Teen Quest Story

How does it feel to be a deaf or hard of hearing young person in a hearing world? How do you make sense of your adolescent challenges when people around you cannot communicate easily with you? How do you handle the constant isolation created by these communication barriers? How do you understand the abundant love of God in Jesus Christ? Do you have someone who experiences life alongside you and who reflects the spirit of God in his or her own life?

Why Deaf Teen Quest? Deaf young people share one thing in common; they “listen” with their eyes instead of their ears! With technology and sign language, this uniqueness presents fewer barriers than ever before in history. Yet, a spiritual crisis has emerged. Few young Deaf people claim any kind of a personal relationship with God. Through DTQ®, lives are being changed across the nation through an outreach that is culturally tuned-in and empowering. DTQ® provides a healthy peer group environment with Christian role models who can communicate in ASL and help Deaf students develop a mature faith that makes a positive difference in the world.

Bob and Kathy Ayres co-founded Deaf Teen Quest in 2000 largely in response to their concern for our youngest daughter Ana who is deaf and was a young teenager at the time. The Ayres attended a church with an excellent youth program but Ana was not making sense of the gospel due to language and cultural barriers. Bob and Kathy had been involved with youth ministry since the 1970s and specifically with deaf teenagers since the 1980s. They researched options and realized there was no national youth ministry effectively reaching deaf and hard of hearing young people at that time.

This put the Ayres on a journey that has strengthened over the years into a national (and even international) relational youth ministry for deaf and hard of hearing teenagers. In 2008, YFC Deaf Teen Quest became the official ministry of Youth For Christ USA and is active in over a dozen communities across the nation.

In 2004, Bob Ayres published "Deaf Diaspora: The Third Wave of Deaf Ministry" (iUniverse, 2004) which was the first book written on Deaf ministry since 1992. This reflects the crisis at that point in the history of ministry within the Deaf community. This book has served as a foundation for effective and sustainable Deaf teen ministry for the beginning decades of the 21st Century.

In June of 2017, Matthew Belwood transitioned into the role of National Director for Deaf Teen Quest.  This was the cumulation of a long process of discernment by Youth for Christ to identify who would lead the ministry into the future.  Bob Ayres will remain on the Deaf Teen Quest Executive Team as the Sr. Director of Ministry Establishment and remain a valuable support during the trasition and beyond.  Matthew Belwood has served with Deaf Teen Quest since its inception, from volunteer to paid staff in Cincinnati through a Deaf residential school.  Upon taking the role of Associate National Director, Matthew then moved to Louisville, KY for additional training before assuming the role of National Director.  In addition to being the National Director of YFC Deaf Teen Quest, Matthew's experience includes roles as a Deaf Education teacher, Behavior Intervention Specialist, and Adjunct Professor at Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati. 


The Five Essentials of YFC Deaf Teen Quest

Widespread Prayer
Essential to this specialized ministry is the development of a widespread network of Christians who regularly bring this ministry for deaf and hard of hearing young people before the Lord in prayer.

Loving Relationships
We pursue Deaf young people for them to experience a personal relationship with Jesus, develop a love for scripture as authority in their lives and discover their leadership skills through service and missions.

Faithful Bible Teaching
We regularly coach deaf and hard of hearing young people in how to accurately handle Biblical truth and apply it to their daily lives. We focus on the “uncluttered” gospel as a foundation for life.

Adults Who Empower
We strategically develop leaders to reach deaf and hard of hearing young people who exemplify godly lifestyles, model cultural competence and nurture empowered indigenous leadership.

Collaborative Community Strategy
Deaf Teen Quest (DTQuest®, DTQ®) was established in 2000 specifically for ministry with deaf and hard of hearing teenagers and their families. YFC Deaf Teen Quest is a ministry of Youth for Christ/USA and works in collaboration with a number of other national and local ministries.


If you do not have a DTQuest® ministry in your area, the first place to begin is by contacting your local Youth For Christ (YFC) Chapter. Find YFC near you, or start YFC in your community.

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