I was born hearing in Chicago, Illinois. At the age of 3½, I contracted spinal meningitis and from that became Deaf. I lost all communication with my family and felt very isolated. As a result, my behavior, as you can imagine, was horrible. At the age of 11, my friend was talking about church. I wanted to go to this Deaf church to be with my friends. So I gave him my address, which he then gave to his bus captain. That Sunday I was on my way to the First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana.
After misbehaving on the bus ride home, a lady worker called me to the front of the bus and shared the Gospel with me. I remember that day receiving hope as I accepted Christ as my Saviour. During camp at the age of 12, I felt God was calling me to preach. I surrendered to His will and went forward. It wasn’t until high school that I really struggled with this decision. You see, I played football all four years. I was an all-star captain at a 6A school. I had many college scholarship offers. The University of Florida, the Gators, came to my school to recruit me. I really wrestled with this decision. A godly man came to me and offered his advice. He said if I went to play for the Gators, I might end up messing up my life; who knows? He continued by saying that if I went to Bible college, I could serve God. That struck me—serving God! I put aside all my scholarships and decided to go to Hyles-Anderson College.
It was my second year at college, during a Missions-Emphasis Week, that God began tugging on my heart to be a missionary. I really didn’t want to leave the comforts that I had here in America. However, I told God I would go. I knew God wanted me to go to Africa, but it wasn’t until we had our annual Pastors’
School when the Ghana Team was launched that God revealed it to me. He struck my heart and said, “That’s where I want you to go.”
On my survey trip to Ghana, He confirmed that calling. I traveled with a veteran international missionary to the Deaf. He told me to pray that God would show us some Deaf, because not always do you get to meet them while traveling. On my two-week survey trip, I met over 700 Deaf people. I met Deaf people every day. God showed me His ministry for me.
I started attending church at the age of four as a bus kid. I recall hearing the Gospel multiple times in Sunday school, Junior Church, and Vacation Bible School. Each time it was presented, I raised my hand and prayed to make sure I had a home in Heaven. Finally, in third grade my Sunday school teacher at Community Baptist Church of Andalusia, Illinois, made it clear to me that I could never be good enough to earn salvation and I could never do anything to lose it. I understood that gift was Jesus, and He alone had the power to save me. That day I put my faith in Him, and it has been settled in my heart ever since.
I grew up in a very dysfunctional family. My parents are Deaf and Hard of Hearing and were, at that time, very heavy drug addicts. My sisters and I were left to our own doings and were never disciplined. We were our teachers’ worst nightmares. Oftentimes, after sharing my testimony, people have accused me of being the poster child for “Jesus saves.” However, it was different at church. It was a place of refuge. I remember going to church to feel loved and accepted. I thank God for a youth pastor and his family who invested in me. I started going soul winning at the age of 13. My youth pastor and his family would invite me to their home every weekend so that I would be able to work on the bus route with them. They took time to disciple me and show me what a Christian family looked like. They would bring me into their home to eat and fellowship with the missionary family they were hosting. It was at our missions conference that I surrendered to be a missionary. I laugh now, because I told God, “Anywhere but Africa!”
In high school I had a strong desire to attend our Christian school. However, because of my parents’ addictions, they could not afford food, much less a Christian education. At the age of 15, I moved in with my aunt and got a job cleaning empty apartments and the complexes to pay for school. I am so thankful that God gave me this opportunity. I know, without a doubt, that had I not made this change, I would have never attended Hyles-Anderson College.