All in a day’s work… by Kevin Maki (BCP Deaf Ministry Coordinator/Church Planter)
Deaf Baptist Church – Fremont, CA
Entering a parking garage off of I-80 and stopping the car to get around rush-hour traffic. Backpack and bicycle balanced precariously as an early morning electric commuter train whines up to the platform and the station announcer calls: “Fremont” for an on-time arrival at an appointment.
On a given day, making disciples among the deaf may be as simple as answering an email or text message question or taking a call by videophone to discuss something in sign language.
Or it may include a call from a hospital chaplain asking for “someone who knows sign language” that can give comfort to a patient dying of cancer or a family member of a deaf person who recently has been incarcerated and wishes for visit or weekly Bible study in the jail.
On any given weekend there are opportunities for a deaf church to witness in the community events hosted by different deaf organizations. Some are by “invitation-only” such as providing lunch and giving the gospel to the monthly meeting of the Northern CA Association of the Deaf-Blind while others are open to any who reserve a table and pay a fee such as the annual Deaf Nation Expo or annual open house for the California School for the Deaf – North. The logistics of witnessing at such events are daunting with church members coming from all points within the greater Bay Area to volunteer time after all materials have been prepared with careful consideration and prayer.
On Sunday ministry includes the children whether singing happy birthday in sign language or delivering a birthday card to an elderly deaf attendee. Teaching and preaching is followed by question and answer whether in the formal service or informally afterwards.
Or it may lead into ministry during the weekdays interpreting for a deaf member taking a citizenship class, meeting with an immigration attorney, being sworn in at the courthouse or simply leading a group of interns and church members to teach sign language to students at a local Christian school. Just as these many of these students are first generation Americans, our deaf people have come from 17 different countries not including the U.S.
At the end of the day another vehicle that was left earlier in the week at the church awaits in Fremont, CA. Just take I-880 Northbound connect at the MacArthur maze to I-80E until Pinole; exit on Appian way. If freeway traffic was light, a 45 minute commute in the SF Bay Area. Home again!