LEADERS INVOLVED IN MINISTRY TO DEAF THROUGH THE YEARS

NOTE: In some biographies below, there may be considerable duplication between the Basic Historical section, the Organizations section and these biographies.

BELSER, GEORGE & ARLENE

George and Arlene Belser [both Deaf] for years were both teachers at the Washington State School for the Deaf in Vancouver, WA. George was a teacher of English.

Belsers became interested in the Adventist message and had Bible Studies in the late 60’s and early 70’s with Elder & Mrs. Arthur Griffith. They became convicted and were both baptized in 1971.

People could early see not only George’s devotion, but his ability as a
teacher of truth and as a writer. It was not too long before George was
given the work of producing an Easy English version of the regular Sabbath School Lessons (retiring from the SS lessons in 2016). He retired early from teaching in deaf school and in 1990 was ordained as a pastor for the Deaf – paid on a part time basis. For many years, George was the lone person representing the Deaf on the Christian Record board. George has been a great help and influence in Washington and Oregon and as a presenter at the Milo Deaf Camp Meetings.

From 2006 – 2012 Belser’s moved to Phoenix, Arizona, but have returned to their familiar area of Vancouver, WA. They remain active in the deaf church group in Portland!

BLAKE, JOHN & ALBERTA

Blake’s knew virtually nothing about deaf people until their lives changed drastically when their middle hearing girl, Judy, became deaf from a high fever at the age of three months. They have come to believe that the Lord allowed this so they and Judy could have a part in sharing the Three Angel’s Messages with the Deaf World.

Their first major contact with SDA Deaf was in 1974/75 when they attended an NAD Deaf Ministry organizational meeting in California. Elder Caris H. Lauda gathered leaders together from the west coast to discuss the future of ministry with Deaf. They also attended a summer camp being run by Elder John Issler, also in California. With their deaf children, they began to attend other camp meetings for Deaf: one by Tom Fromm in California, one in Utah and then a number at Milo Academy.

Alberta Blake had earlier decided to train officially as a teacher of the Deaf and began to teach Judy and her adopted deaf brother, David, through home schooling. This usually expanded into working in with some of the hearing classes in the local church school where Pastor and Mrs. Blake were pastoring. Later, Alberta taught deaf children at the Christian Deaf Center [CDC] in Arkansas. Elder Blake worked in teaching and administration work at CDC from 1982-1985.

They became involved in the production of signed video tapes and later DVD’s culminating in 2015 in the two DVD “Jesus Life Story” set [It is signed by Alan Meis and Esther Doss. A number of other productions are also still available]

For some years Alberta was on the NAD Deaf Ministry Committee and the Three Angel’s Deaf Ministry Board [3ADM] For a time Alberta also led out in the 3ADM Literature/Video committee. During her leadership 3ADM produced a set of printed baptismal lessons (which she edited). She also worked with Francisca Trexler in an abbreviated ASL video Bible Study series done on DVD. This video series was geared to work along with the basic Easy Reading Amazing Facts tract set of 14 lessons.

Since 2006 Elder Blake has been highly involved with the USA office of Gospel Outreach in the placing and current support of about 44 Lay Bible Workers and 6 teachers – all for the Deaf! They are spread over 16 countries from Kazakhstan to the Philippines and from Brazil to India and Kenya, etc.
The main body of the Deaf History (in Canada) contains other details from Blake’s work with Deaf!

BLANK, RALPH

Two of Ralph’s greatest contributions to ministry of the Deaf were his years of Chairing the Board of Adventist Deaf Ministries and earlier, even before his marriage, the interpreting of a full series of Quiet Hour Bible studies on video with LaVerne Tucker as speaker. Ralph took the series done for the Hearing, and his interpreting was inserted, fairly good sized, in the corner. This was one of the first attempts at preparing any Bible studies in video for the Deaf. Ralph also gave years of help to the deaf group meeting near Loma Linda University. In 2017, Ralph and family live in Austin, TX.

BRILL, DEBRA- North American Division

When the Christian Record voted to close its department of Deaf Ministry in 1998, the North American Division voted to set up an NAD Deaf Ministry Committee. It was first chaired by Elder Vasquez, but later by Debra Brill, who is still the chair in 2018.

Debra is a very gracious Chair Person, and really has the needs of the Deaf at heart. She has recommended to NAD administration that the NAD Deaf Ministries Committee be empowered to appoint its own membership, and approve funding appropriated for Deaf Ministries on an annual basis. This is an intentional strategy that gives autonomy and full responsibility to Deaf leadership for this ministry in North America.

In September of 2016, Debra met with Dr. Larry Evans [The GC Special Needs Director] and representatives from the various Union Conferences in NAD. Debra was an attentive listener. She heard about the problems, challenges and goals of the mostly deaf lay persons in attendance. It was a great weekend together! The church is listening!

BUDD, MARVIN

Marvin Budd has been working in the computer departments of various organizations and in recent years at Andrews University. Marvin has also been providing interpreting for the deaf group near Andrews University. He has also worked at interpreting at General Conference sessions, etc.

In 2017 he went to India with Dr. Larry Evans and Elder Jeff Jordan and worked in interpreting for Jordan in various locations. Marvin is to be working with the Gospel Outreach Lay Bible workers in India as the Interim Gospel Outreach Assistant Director for Deaf Ministry in India.

BUZZEL, BRUCE & SUSAN

Bruce has been the Chairman of the board of Three Angel’s Deaf Ministries for some years. He and his wife are actively involved in ministry with fellow Deaf.

Bruce Buzzell, was born Deaf and grew up in the St. Louis area. Bruce graduated from the National Technical Institute for the Deaf with an A.A.S. degree in Civil Engineering Technology in 1978. He worked as a soils lab technician at Houston, TX. for one year before attending the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. There Bruce worked toward a B.S. degree in civil engineering, but did not complete his studies. Bruce is currently employed at the Missouri Department of Transportation at the St. Louis office. For 34 years Bruce has worked there as a Highway Design Technician.

Bruce accepted Jesus Christ as his Savior and Lord on August 4, 1978 and was baptized one month later in Houston, TX. Later he served as a deacon at a deaf Baptist church in St. Louis for more than 16 years. Bruce then discovered the Biblical truths of the Adventist church and was baptized into the SDA church on January 26, 2002.

Bruce joined Adventist Deaf Ministries as a member of the Board of Directors in June, 2003 (before the name was changed to Three Angels Deaf Ministries in 2011). Bruce has been the Chairperson of the Board of Directors since 2007.

Bruce is also a member of the NAD Deaf Ministries Union Coordinators group which met in Dallas in 2016, 2017 & 2018

Bruce is married to Susan who is also Deaf. They live in the St. Louis area.

COLGAN, AMANDA

Amanda Colgan has a Bachelor’s degree in packaging engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology and is a stay-at-home mom with two young children. She has been married to her husband for fourteen years and they live in Massachusetts, USA.

Amanda is very active in Deaf Ministry and is involved with several organizations. She is the secretary for the Deaf Young Adults for Christ SDA organization for a five years and had been the President for two years. She has been on the committee for the North American Division Seventh-day Adventist Deaf Ministry for eight years. She was on the Board of Three Angels Deaf Ministries for a short time. In addition to that, she is involved with Southern New England Conference Deaf Ministry. They meet monthly and host an annual Deaf camp meeting. Currently, Amanda is the website content manager of two web sites: (1) The Adventist Deaf Ministries International and (2) Hope Channel Deaf, which are both under the General Conference.

DAVIDSON, NEAL

As far as we know, Neal Davidson was the first deaf man to ever be hired by the SDA church as a full time ‘pastor’. In around 1960, when Clarence Kohler went back from Deaf Ministry to Hearing ministry, the Southern California Conference hired Neal Davidson to take Issler’s place when Issler had to drop the work because of ill health.

Unfortunately some challenges came up and Davidson left pastoral work. But Neal has continued on doing what he could for Deaf Ministry! For a time Neal was a member of the 3ADM board. He passed away in the Fall of 2018.

DOBSON, MIKE & BETH

Mike and Beth originally had studies with Elder Paul Kelly when they were Rochester Institute of Technology students at RIT/NTID in Rochester, New York. Elder Paul Kelly baptized Mike and Beth in 1993. Elder Kelly re-baptized Beth in July 2017 at Milo Academy in Oregon. Mike is a specialist in web development and has been instrumental in helping 3ADM and D.E.A.F. for years with web sites. Mike has been a Web Developer for the Defense Logistics Agency (Federal) for almost 23 years.

For 17 years Beth was the official “Secretary” of the Board of Directors for Adventist Deaf Ministries – later known as 3ADM. Beth has been a strong supporter of Deaf Ministry. She has been a Teacher of the Deaf in a Virginia public school for almost 17 years. In addition, she taught English and Reading at Gallaudet University for 8 years.

DOSS, ESTHER AND CHIP

Both Chip and Esther come from Arkansas, and grew up not living all that far from each other. Chip’s father became interested in video taping his wife Ruth’s cooking classes. Chip and his brother Jim started to really learn video skills when attending Weimar College in California. Jim is now a deputy for a sheriff’s office and no longer works much with Chip. Chip and his team work in fixing computers and selling and installing video systems for churches and businesses over a wide area. Chip was the ‘Producer’ for two video programs sponsored by the Alberta Conference Deaf Ministry Department (1) Our World: A Theater in God’s Universe and (2) the Jesus Life Story – a double DVD set. Also – a major production for Adventist Deaf Ministries called: The Revelation of Jesus Christ – a full evangelistic series for the Deaf. She also had questions about the topic for Pastor Trexler -the presenter – at the end of each of the 26 programs. Esther was the signer for the Theater production and signed the Introductions for each chapter of the Jesus Life Story set.

Esther’s parents are both Deaf and she grew up so closely tied to the Deaf World that when she went to school and talked with her fellow students – they seemed to be the strange ones to her. Esther’s experience and ability has grown greatly as she has gained experience not only in video, but in working with Deaf and even in being the ASI International Convention Program Chair for several years. Esther still feels a little more comfortable when working in the Deaf World than in the Hearing World.

One of Esther’s life learning experiences was working at the live-in Deaf school in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Esther’s mother, Wanda, always had a passion for sharing Bible truths with the Deaf. Wanda held several camp outs that she called camp meetings. These were humble meetings, but with good results. Esther picked up the role of directing these camp meetings – then called Midwest Deaf Camp Meeting. This was another learning experience for her. Currently Esther is the North American Division Deaf Ministries Coordinator. She also works in development with Three Angel’s Deaf Ministries. She was in charge of organizing the NAD Union Coordinators Deaf Leaders Convention in Texas in Sept. 2016, 2017 & 2018.

Each year, for about the past 8 years, Esther and Chip have created a new DVD in the “Signs of God’s Love” series. Everything is taped outdoors, and Esther usually works with a Deaf person. The outdoor setting is in some interesting place that works as a base for her topic. Each DVD has had a theme: God as Creator, the Sabbath, Death, the Sanctuary, etc. These DVD’s are used in the basic little witnessing bags given out free at their 3ADM booths at Deaf Conventions across the USA – a new one for each year’s convention.

This series has been funded by the North American Division and produced as a project by Three Angels Deaf Ministries.

EVANS, DR. LARRY R. & CAROLYN G. EVANS

Dr. Larry Evans has had contact with deaf people for many years. For a time, while with the Oregon Conference, Evans worked some with the Deaf in the Portland/Oregon area. Later, he was Jeff Jordan’s Conference President when Jeff was working in the Atlanta area. Evans took part in the ordination of Jeff when Jeff was ordained as a minister. Later, Dr. Evans became Undersecretary of the General Conference from late 2002 to 2010. During this time Evans began laying a foundation for a more comprehensive work for the Deaf. Despite very heavy work with his other responsibilities, Dr. Evans worked to encourage and help deaf ministry. In 2011, when Evans was asked to be an Associate GC Stewardship Director, he requested permission, to serve as a “Liasson”, for the global work for the Deaf in addition to his full-time work with Stewardship. His work also included being editor of the Dynamic Steward periodical.

But, Deaf Ministry began to grow significantly. Soon Evans was recognized as a leader for the Deaf. The North American Division Deaf Committee petitioned Elder Wilson by letter to name Evans as the full
time global coordinator for Deaf Ministries. Gradually an idea grew in Evans mind. What if the work for Deaf and the various groups of disabled people – were put together and given the special emphasis so badly
needed? At the 2015 General Conference Session Elder Ted Wilson asked Evans to prepare a full proposal. This proposal was voted by the GC Executive Committee and an “Office of Special Needs Ministries” was
formed as an extension of the General Conference President’s office. Evans was to be directly responsible to the GC President. He was asked to serve on the main leadership committees of the GC. This added
prominence to this new ministry emphasis. At the heart of the organizational strategic plan for Special Needs Ministries is what Evans calls the “3-A” strategy. The three-fold emphasis is built around “Awareness”, “Acceptance” and “Action”. The Special Needs Office responsibilities have grown to include not only Blind, Deaf, those with physical and mental challenges, orphans, but also the “Care Givers” working tirelessly with any of these groups. In time, the needs of ‘widows’ & ‘widowers’ – around the world – have also been added.

Dr. Evans requested all divisions to appoint a Special Needs Coordinator as he had also done for Deaf ministries. This was a significant strategic move to expand the outreach to over 1.1 billion individuals who have some kind of disability. This ministry assumes an educational – not a medical role. Advisory or training sessions were conducted in most divisions for union leaders. Professional and experienced leaders took part in each of these educational sessions. A Special Needs Committee sub-committee or task force has been set up for most of these branches, as well as an overall Special Needs Coordinating Committee to help guide all the varied special ministries.

To assist in creating a sense of identity name, web sites were created for both the Deaf (www.AdventistDeaf.org) and those with Special Needs (https://www.possibilityministries.org/). In addition to the two web sites, a channel for the Deaf was created on Hope Channel. It is an internet streaming channel making it even more accessible around the world. [https://www.hopechanneldeaf.org] It is a video on demand arrangement featuring sub-titled/captioned or signed videos in five major languages: English, Spanish, Portuguese, French and German. Later, other languages will also be included.

Dr. Evans has also been involved with Deaf Ministry at ASI conventions, at the GC Session deaf booth, and at many camp meetings or other special meetings for the Deaf around the world.

As Dr. Evans watched the growth of recent Deaf Ministry in 2017, he wrote: “There is an awakening to ministry for the Deaf. The Lord is doing something. I think the awareness is more than what any human can take credit for. Something “divine” is going on behind the scenes and we are all playing a part. Someday, we’ll hear ‘the rest of the story.’ ”

FROMM, TOM

Tom Fromm, a deaf man, lived in California. He was active in Deaf work there, even organizing a camp meeting for the Deaf out in nature.

Fromm moved to Alpena, Arkansas, in hopes of starting a Lay Training Center for SDA Deaf youth. In 1978 he bought a 260 acre property, near Alpena, and had the property registered in the name of the organization he set up.

Unfortunately, he and Kathy Griffith were killed in a terrible car accident in 1980 as his dream was struggling to get started. In spite of his death, the Lay Training Center did get started with Clarence Kohler, and Don and Arthur Griffith’s help. When the Deaf center [CDC] closed in 1986, a considerable amount of his original investment went to support the deaf work of the Christian Record Deaf Ministry Department.

GALLIMORE, MAX & LAURENE

Starting on Oct. 18, 1982, Mrs. Laurene (Max) Gallimore – with others – began a small school for the Deaf in Oregon. They rented an unused public school building for $750 per year. Initially they taught four regular students and two pre-schoolers. The courses they used were from the SDA Home Study institute. Deaf members in the Dallas and Stone Tower churches did much to help start the school. Donations for supplies came from around North America. Various deaf members helped with teaching and assisting. Unfortunately it did not last.

For a fairly short time the Christian Record Deaf Department added a
another member to the team with Max Gallimore who in 1987 came as editor of “Deaf-Light”, a missionary type easy reading magazine for Deaf. He also edited the “New Dawn” CRS newsletter for the SDA Deaf in North America.

During the time that Max was working with Christian Record, Mrs. Gallimore again tried to start a school, this time in Lincoln in 1987 at the Helen Hyatt Elementary school. The SDA North American Missions put in $3,000 and the CRS Deaf Services department another $5,000. However, that attempt at starting an SDA school also ended.

GOODRICH, SANDI

[Abridged and edited from the September 2-2015 Three Angels Deaf Ministries Report]

For years Sandy was involved with ministry with Deaf in Texas. At one point, in the earlier days of video, Sandi did a sign language class on video tape. On July 6, 2015, Deaf ministry had a real loss. Sandi Goodrich, of Double Oak, TX, passed away after a long battle with ALS at the age of 67. Sandi was born July 16, 1947 in Dallas, TX. Sandi married Joseph Goodrich on December 13, 1968 in Dallas. She was a member of the Lewisville, TX SDA Church and worked as an interpreter.

Sandi is survived by her husband Joe, two children, ” five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

Sandi met a Deaf boy in high school and they became sweethearts. The relationship did not work and they broke up, but it was her introduction to the world of the Deaf. Shortly after Sandi was baptized, she began interpreting for a little Deaf boy in church. Sandi decided to become educated in ASL and began interpreting at a high school.

For a few years the Texas Conference paid her to start a Deaf ministry. Sandi traveled all over Texas with her mother. They also made video tapes. Everywhere she went, she talked to the Deaf. Sandi was very friendly. Through the years, Sandi taught several ASL classes to hearing people, with hopes that someone would join her as an interpreter.

Over all Sandi had interpreted for 40 years! Sometimes she would serve the Deaf even when she was sick. Sandi was always there for the Deaf people she loved. She would interpret for them at other times outside of the church, such as at doctors’ appointments. Sandi was also a very passionate advocate for the Deaf.

She had long prayed and hoped for a pastor for the Deaf in Texas. The Deaf community was her second family and they loved her dearly. When Sandi started getting sick, she went to many doctors. No one could tell her what was wrong. Then a medical student discovered she had ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Prayers and belief that God could heal her is what kept her and her family going. She was anointed twice, once by 3ADM Speaker/Director David Trexler. Other pastors including Pastor Jeff Jordan also prayed with her. May all of the interpreters in our churches be as dedicated!

GRIFFITH, ALFRED & CHERYL

Alfred Griffith is the oldest son of Elder Arthur Griffith. As Alfred grew older he determined to train as a pastor, and work with the Deaf. Alfred has described himself as a “Hearing Deaf Person”. The reason is that he grew up in a deaf home and feels more comfortable in the world of the Deaf than the world of the Hearing. After Alfred graduated from Walla Walla College in 1968, he received a call from the Potomac Conference to come and work full time for the students his father had been working for. The group grew to 20 students by 1971. There was a break in his church employ (described in the basic script), but this did not stop his life goal to share the Three Angel’s Messages with the Deaf.

However, in 1979, the Northern California Conference called Alfred to
pastor the Deaf in the Bay area. He also expanded to various areas in northern California where he continued to minister faithfully for well over 30 years until his official retirement. Shortly after retirement, he and his wife Cheryl moved to just north of Vancouver, WA, settling not far from both their son and daughter’s homes.

But, his retirement did not stop his ministry with Deaf. Griffith has made trips back to minister to those in his old pastoral district in Northern California. Pastor Griffith also has made trips up to Seattle to speak to the deaf group there. Alfred has been in demand as a camp meeting speaker, retreat weekend speaker, member of both the NAD Deaf Committee and the Three Angel’s Deaf Ministry board. For a time Alfred was an Assistant Gospel Outreach Director for GO Deaf Ministry in India.

Unfortunately, at time of writing, his precious wife is seriously afflicted with Parkinson’s disease. Alfred is tenderly looking after her at home.

GRIFFITH, ARTHUR & ALYCE

Arthur Griffith’s influence on the deaf work in North America is very significant. As you consult the material in the main historical section, you can see that Arthur was an unusual and determined man. God used him for many years as one of the main influencers in the SDA Deaf World in the USA. His influence even spread beyond the USA to India. Arthur had no college training, but had learned the machinist trade. After the death of their deaf daughter, Linda, in 1956, Arthur took a much stronger interest in reaching other Deaf for Christ!

When Arthur got something in his sights, he was determined to
reach his goal. He did not hesitate to write anyone in church leadership pleading again and again for the spiritual needs of the Deaf. One of his most significant accomplishments was the production of a dozen 16mm movie Bible studies. At that time this would have been a very costly project. However he managed to persuade everyone involved that this needed to be done. Arthur, with his crew, and with the help of his son, Alfred, and deaf friend, Gus Codero, completed a basic set of 12 Bible studies. Unfortunately, the cost of each set of 12 was probably roughly about $3,000. In today’s dollars, this would be closer to $2,000 for each 16 mm reel of the 12 Bible studies.

Fortunately, video tape came into popular use, and Griffith worked extensively in trying to find ways to best utilize his media equipment for sharing the Gospel with Deaf via video tape. Blake remembers visiting his home in Grant’s Pass and seeing how his inventive mind was still working in this new area.

Griffith’s final few years were spent at his son Alfred’s home setting near Manteca, CA. Alfred had purchased a large 5th wheel trailer for his parents to stay in. Arthur’s mind was clear, but his ability to get around was severely limited. However, Alyce was quite able to get around, but she was suffering from severe dementia. They helped one another get by.

How we long to see them both in Heaven, young, hearing and rejoicing with many of those that they worked with through the years in pastoral and church work!

GRIFFITH, BEN

Ben Griffith is another son of Arthur and Alyce Griffith. He also pastored for several years. Ben took his ministerial training at Walla Walla College.

Ben pastored the deaf group in Silver Springs, Maryland, then later a hearing church in Virginia. Things did not go as well as he would have liked in his personal life and Ben resigned. He is currently not involved with deaf people.

GRIFFITH, DON & MONA

Don is a son of Elder Arthur Griffith. He is an excellent signer and a CODA, or “Child of a Deaf Adult”. Don grew up in the culture and “World of the Deaf”. In 1979 Don decided to help with the establishment of a Lay Training Center for the Deaf at Alpena, Arkansas. Later it came to be known as The Christian Deaf Center [CDC]. Unfortunately in 1980, his wife, Kathy, was killed in a tragic car accident along with the original donor of the deaf center property, Tom Fromm. Don then married Mona Shields. Don was involved in teaching and leadership becoming CDC Director in 1983.

When CDC closed in 1986, Don joined the Deaf department at the Christian Record where he worked for 6 years. Don then became the administrator/manager of medical clinics and a hospital. He has now retired at Olympia, WA. When there are Deaf attending their local church, Don and Mona sign for them.

HOVEY, JIM & BUNNY

Jim was one of the original group of students at Gallaudet that had studied with the Griffith’s. Jim went on to complete the class work for his doctorate, but never got to do a dissertation and so did not complete the doctoral degree.

Jim was a very capable man and gained considerable experience in administration. In 2001, Jim accepted a call to be Director of Adventist Deaf Ministries [ADM]. The office was moved from Lincoln to the Phoenix, Arizona area. It was first located in Hovey’s home, but then the Apache Junction church built a special building next to their church to house the office of ADM.

Jim worked hard and long, having little if any paid help in the office. Finally, his health suffered and in 2007, Jim resigned. Before long they left Phoenix and moved to Christmas Valley in Eastern Oregon where they still live today.

Bunny has been a great help to Jim and to Adventist deaf work. Not only during Jim’s leadership at ADM, but also with the SDA Deaf group known as “Deaf Young Adults for Christ” or DYAC!

ISSLER, JOHN & EVELYN

John married Evelyn in Toronto in 1944. He wanted to be a pastor. John graduated from Canadian Union College in 1948. He also became a Master Guide the same year. While at CUC he was assistant secretary for the Colporteur Club and played drums in the band. Somehow, John developed a real burden for ministry with Deaf. He decided to canvass deaf families – going across Canada from East to West. When he got to BC, he decided to continue by going South into the USA. He ended up in California – where he lived the rest of his life. As early as 1948, Issler made a proposal to the General Conference about Deaf work, and though things moved very slowly, later, Issler did end up pastoring the Deaf for some years in the Los Angeles area.

Issler was not one to give up easily, and from 1951-1953 he continued to canvas the Deaf in the Los Angeles area collecting 7,000 names of Deaf persons. However, at one point, he did have a setback. He had tried to interpret with white gloves that would respond to ultraviolet light shining on his hands. Unfortunately, the ultraviolet light hurt his eyes, and for a time this cut back on his ability to sign for the Deaf. For some years, Issler worked as a full time pastor for the Deaf and in 1974 was associated with the White Memorial Church in Los Angeles.

Blakes remember going to a camp for Deaf organized by Issler in about 1974 at Mendocino Lake. Issler had a boat and many enjoyed water skiing. They combined spiritual meetings with fun times.

The year that the West Coast Deaf met for a camp meeting at a Nevada-Utah Conference campground, in 1976, Issler was one of the presenters along with Clarence Kohler, Arthur and Alfred Griffith, Rex Rolls and John Blake. John and Evelyn now await the master’s call!

JARNES, NOHELANI

Nohelani is a professional interpreter living in the Seattle area. She works as a church interpreter for the deaf group coming from around Seattle. She also interprets for other church gatherings such as the GYC meetings. Nohelani also was a leading interpreter at the 2015 General Conference Session in Texas. Professionally she interprets for the Sorensen video relay system.

JORDAN, JEFF & MISSY

Jeff was brought up as the only deaf person in an SDA family in California. He was active in his local church. However, a young lady from the Eastern USA, Melissa Johnson (Missy), came to California to finish her training as an official ‘Interpreter’. She also did much of the interpreting at Jeff’s church. Before long, Jeff and Missy fell in love and married.

Jeff obtained a good job teaching in the area of deaf studies and they were very active in their local church in California. Jeff was encouraged by some to enter the ministry, but when he seriously looked into it, he was warned that there was little call for deaf pastors and he might not get a pastoral position. Finally, one of his friends strongly urged Jeff to go on to the Seminary whether he had a sponsorship or not. Jeff applied and was accepted. It was agreed that his wife could be paid as one of his official class interpreters. Jeff not only did well in his own studies, but was asked to teach sign language and an introduction to deaf ministry at Andrews University. He graduated with the others in his class with his M. Div. Degree.

But, in spite of many working to try and find Jeff a pastoral position, at first, nothing opened up. While Jeff was still at Andrews, Blake’s, up in Canada, asked Jeff and Missy to come for a special weekend in Toronto. They saw Jeff’s devotion to the Lord and convictions for working with the Deaf. After Jeff’s graduation, they worked with the BC Conference to have Jeff come and have a special series for the Deaf in the Vancouver area. These meetings were held in the same building and at the same time as Leo Schreven was having his series. God blessed and three precious Deaf were baptized: Greg Greenwood, Terese Rognmo and a Chinese girl, Yuk Kee.

Still, nothing opened for Jordans. However, Jeff saw a great need to work for the thousands of Deaf in the Atlanta area. So, Jeff asked the Conference – if he raised his own salary from donations, could he be employed to start a church for the Deaf in the Atlanta area. When Jeff had personally raised the needed pledges of support, Jeff began work in Atlanta. About five years later, Jeff was taken on as a full time regular pastor to be paid from tithe.

John Blake had been working to try and get a full evangelistic series on video. He worked with others in a special online committee working toward that video project. However, when CRS closed in 1997, other matters took priority. But, in 1999, Blake’s decided to do a sample experimental series and do it live with Pastor Jordan as presenter. They met nightly at an Inn in Marietta, GA. John ran one camera while his wife, Alberta, worked with a back-up camera. Missy did the voice interpreting as Jeff preached using PowerPoint presentations on a rear projection screen. It worked out beautifully in digital format and many sets of the 20 lectures were sold. (Still available in 2018)

Jordan’s continued their ministry in Atlanta until 2008 when it was decided that Jeff should move next to Southern Adventist University. There he would teach signing part time, along with his regular pastoral work.

In 2002, Jeff was introduced to the mission field in India travelling with Blake and the Division President’s wife, Dorothy Watts. Since that time, Jeff has made quite a few trips to other countries. In 2014/16 Jeff was in Spain, Brazil, Ghana and England. He is now officially the “GC Honorary Associate Director of Deaf Ministry”. ‘Honorary’, because his salary is coming from his conference during the one month of time allowed for him to be ‘out of his own district’!
[Other details of Jordan’s ministry are included in the main historical section]

KAY, THOMPSON & ETHEL

For years Pastor Arthur Griffith had been visiting the President of the General Conference, Elder Neil Wilson, begging him to expand ministry for the Deaf. After many of Author’s visits, and persistence, Elder Wilson set up a Special Task Force committee to study the work for the Deaf. Author Griffith was on that committee along with several department leaders from the General Conference and the North American Division. After much discussion, the committee felt the need for a special ministry for the Deaf. They had two concerns, one, who would head up the work for the Deaf, and secondly, where to house the ministry.

A member on the committee suggested that the ministry for the Deaf be set up as part of Christian Record Services [CRS] which was serving the Blind. After much discussion it was decided that the ministry should be located at CRS since there was no other place that provided services for people with special needs.

It was Arthur Griffith who recommended Thompson Kay’s name to be on the committee that was set up to establish a ministry for the Deaf. In 1979 Kay was invited to that committee to help decide what was needed to establish this new ministry. Kay made some suggestions to the committee and Griffith agreed with Kay’s suggestions.

In 1980 Kay was asked by the General Conference to establish this ministry for the Deaf at CRS. The General Conference provided an appropriation to get the ministry started. Kay’s primary responsibilities were to educate church leaders about the needs for the Deaf, to provide printed materials, write articles, conduct workshops on “How to Develop a Ministry for the Deaf”, and to visit conferences and churches. Kay was also to interpret for the Deaf at camp meetings, Pathfinders camporees, evangelistic meetings, and GC Sessions. Kay traveled throughout North America as well as other countries in Africa, South America, Asia, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands.

One of Kay’s early assignments was to try and start a school for the Deaf. It was Elder Wilcox who recommended to the Special Task Force Committee that a school for the Deaf should be set-up in Lincoln. After much work and discussion, it was decided to start a boarding school for the Deaf. However as the situation developed, it was found that the plans would be too costly. Also, not enough parents were willing to send their deaf children away from home to Lincoln, Nebraska, to attend a boarding school.

In 1986 Donald Griffith was hired to serve as the CRS Assistant Deaf Department Director and was responsible for fund raising and preparing signed materials on video tape. In 1991 Griffith decided to do other work. David Trexler was hired to serve as an editor and Bible school Coordinator. Trexler was to concentrate in actually working directly with the deaf community and Kay more with the hearing in Deaf Awareness.

Thompson worked with CRS for 17 years and became well known in SDA circles as the prime promoter of Ministry with Deaf. He still is requested to come to conferences and explain the work for the Deaf. Kay has done much for SDA Deaf Ministry, even going to Kenya to translate for a GC leader who was holding an evangelistic series there.

When the Christian Record finally closed the Deaf department in 1997, Thompson was given severance pay and totally dropped from SDA employment. But, Kay did not give up. For a while, Kay from his own home, continued to promote and work in ministry with Deaf. Within two years of the deaf department closing at CRS, Adventist Deaf Ministries [ADM] was started as an Independent, but supporting ministry with Kay as Director. When the ADM donation level became sufficient, the new organization was moved to another facility in Lincoln, Nebraska and David Trexler joined with Kay as assistant Director.

Due to various complications, in about two years after starting ADM, Kay felt it best to allow a deaf person to take the lead. Kay then formed his own ministry in Lincoln called “TEAMS”. Here he continued working with Deaf and others with special needs – mostly in an educational way specializing in tutoring, etc.

Today, in 2018, Kay’s heart is still in ministry with Deaf. Recently, Kay was with Dr. Larry Evans travelling to Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria and Ukraine, not only interpreting, but lecturing on behalf of the Deaf.

KELLY, PAUL & CHRISTINE (TINA)

Paul Kelly comes from Alberta, Canada. Paul came to know about the Adventist truth through his classmate that he grew up with, Les Oslund. After Bible studies with Elder Arthur Griffith, while attending Gallaudet University in Washington, DC., Paul was baptized. Paul’s heart has been in ministry to Deaf. He received his bachelor’s degree in religion from Union College of Lincoln, Nebraska. From August 1984 to April 1991, Paul was employed as a part time Bible Worker for Deaf in the Seattle area in Washington State. But, sadly, his living had to come from three sources, government, the local church and only some of his funding from the local conference.

Later, Paul was asked to move to Rochester, New York State and he settled near the well-known National Technology Institute for the Deaf (NTID), a college of Rochester Institute of Technology where many Deaf students attended. He later was ordained by Elder Larry Evans at a deaf camp meeting in 1998. For a time, Paul was employed there near NTID as a full time pastor. However his sponsorship dropped down to part time. His stipend ended in 2006.

Several of his converts became very active in various functions such as Three Angels Deaf Ministries (3ADM) , Deaf Young Adults for Christ (DYAC), Adventist Deaf Ministries International (ADMI), Hope Channel Deaf and the Deaf Ministries Committee of the North America Division. However as mentioned, Paul’s funding dried up. After receiving his masters degree in Deaf education from NTID, Paul had to turn to teaching at Rochester School for the Deaf to support his family. He still teaches there in 2018. His wife, Tina, is an elementary teacher assistant. They have three deaf or hard of hearing children.

Paul gave good help up in Toronto after Trexler’s 2000 series there, but living so far from Toronto presented serious complications to long term follow-up.

Various times Paul has had part or full time funding to work in Deaf Ministry in the Adventist church, but funding has never lasted. Regardless, Paul has continued his support of ministry with Deaf as a camp meeting presenter, as a Lay Pastor, as a special weekend speaker, and currently in 2018 Paul is the Vice- Chair of the Three Angel’s Deaf Ministries board.

KIMBALL

[See the Kimball Review & Herald Letter from 1868, and other information in the Appendix material]

Ellen White, in the fourth volume of the Testimonies, p. 300, refers to the ministry of a deaf man by the name of Kimbal. She explains his work with Deaf during her time.

“We were interested in Brother Kimbal, who is a mute and has been a missionary among the mutes. Through his persevering labors quite a little company have accepted the truth. We meet this faithful brother at our yearly camp meetings, surrounded by several of his mute converts. Someone who can hear writes out as much as possible of the discourse (sermon), and he sits surrounded by his mute friends, reading and actively preaching it over again to them with his hands. He has freely used his means to advance the missionary work, thus honoring God with his substance.” {4T 300.3}

Research by Douglas Silva and André Oliveira [from Brazil] discovered various interesting facts. They found that Kimbal had been married with two children. His wife died much too young, but he then made it his life purpose to take the Adventist message to Deaf in five different states. One time he was actually hit by a train, though not killed. They found that Kimbal was buried in the same cemetery in Battle Creek where Ellen and James White are buried.

KOHLER, CLARENCE & BEATRICE

Elder Clarence Kohler had deaf parents and had learned basic signing. In 1958, Kohler, an SDA minister, was called to work for the Deaf in the Central and Northern California conferences, especially in the Bay area. For some reason it did not last, and in 1960 Kohler returned to work for Hearing people.

However, that did not end his interest in ministry with Deaf. For years,
Kohler would attend various of the deaf camp meetings. His special
interest was the health message and his talks reflected that. Don Griffith
reports that when he was a boy, his parents went to visit the Kohlers. By the time Griffith’s left, Kohler had influenced Griffiths to become ‘Vegan’. Don explained that when they returned home, they got rid of their cow and chickens.

Around 1979/80, Kohler, who by this time had retired from pastoral ministry, joined the group at Alpena, Arkansas who were starting a Lay Training Center for the Deaf. There he worked with Arthur Griffith, Don Griffith, and a brother Metzger. When Blake’s came down from Canada in September 1982, training classes started at the center and Kohler became one of the teachers. He had a nice home built on the property, so was quite comfortable there for several years. They had officially adopted their grand- daughter, Gina, and she attended the local church school in Harrison, along with Blake’s youngest daughter, Jean. Both girls became special friends.

After CDC closed in 1986, and Kohlers had moved away, Kohler’s wife Beatrice passed away. Kohler remarried, but it was not long before his new wife also died. For a time Kohler ended up in a senior’s residence in the greater Portland area. Then, his daughter, Lynette, looked after him before he passed away in Northern California.

KROEKER, AGATHA

“As early as 1914, Agatha Kroeker of Lincoln, Nebraska, instructed a young deaf woman in the SDA message in exchange for instruction in the use of sign language. Mrs. Kroeker then proceeded to carry on active evangelistic work for the Deaf, and even published a small missionary paper, The Best Friend of the Deaf. In one year she collected more than 4,000 names of deaf persons in the United States” Information taken from the SDA Encyclopedia – the 2002 Edition.

McGEHEE, CHUCK & BARBARA

Ellen White tells us that in the end times God will call many from the common walks of life to do a work for him. Chuck is one of these. For years he has had his own carpenter business, but has made time to really be a Lay Pastor for the Deaf church group in Portland, Oregon. Chuck has also been a prime organizer of the Milo Camp Meetings for the Deaf. Currently, in 2018, he is also the official ‘Treasurer’ for Three Angel’s Deaf Ministry. Chuck has also been on a trip to India with Marvin Budd to help with Deaf Ministry there. In 2018 he conducted a week of prayer for the deaf students at the Kollegal Child Impact Deaf School.

SMITH MCGOWAN, JESSICA

For many years Jessica has been the South New England Conference Director of Deaf Ministry.
Their deaf group is very active and has many different things going on: weekly meetings with deaf, sign language classes in various locations, and a high Sabbath once a month. The regional members and interests attend as best they can even though they come from several states and many locations. They also have special camping/retreat weekends with guest presenters. If you are on their mailing list, you constantly receive detailed listings of all the many activities.

MEIS, ALAN

Alan’s cultural birth heritage is quite different from the average population. Alan was born “Hearing” but to two ‘deaf parents’. He grew up as a CODA -“A Child of Deaf Adults” – as they are called. This means that Alan understands things the Hearing just don’t ‘get’, and that signing was Alan’s ‘first language’.

Alan became a pastor of the Hearing, but at first he did not become that involved with Deaf Ministry. However, in the last number of years, Alan has been giving much closer attention to Deaf Ministry as a presenter at camp meetings and at other special occasions.

Alan was the prime presenter/signer in the “Jesus Life Story” two DVD series introduced at the Deaf Ministry booth at the 2015 GC session in San Antonio, Texas. Later Alan made the statement that those were the hardest two weeks of his life. There were over 700 pictures in the series covering close to 8 hours of material. The majority of the pictures needed at least one or even more re-takes. Alan had hoped to sign with his own voice which he pre-recorded. But he found that his signing speed often did not match his recorded voice script. So, John Blake had to voice into the microphone in a pew as he read the script for Alan to follow. Sometimes Alan would say, ‘Can you slow down just a little bit’, or ‘Can you speed up just a little bit’. Alan signed all the main script while Esther Doss signed the 10 Chapter ‘Introductions” But, it all worked out in the video editing and the set is now proving a real blessing to many in different parts of the world. We are grateful to Alan for his special contribution to this set on Jesus life!

Alan has become a regular contributor to the camp meetings for the Deaf around the USA and once even up into Canada. Currently he also represents his Lake Union Conference with the North American Division Deaf Ministry Union Coordinators group.

PLUBEL, BOB

Bob is an example of someone who joins the Lord’s work, becomes active, gets discouraged, but then by the power of the Spirit, comes back rejoicing in a new productive walk
with the Lord. Bob is providing good leadership in ministry to Deaf in the
San Diego area.

When ADM officially started in 1999, Bob was the Chair of the Board of Adventist Deaf Ministries. He was still chair later during a particularly challenging time when ADM changed from a ‘Hearing Leader’ to a ‘Deaf Leader’.

Currently Bob represents his Pacific Union Conference when the deaf leaders come together for a North American Division Union Deaf Leaders workshop. Bob is a deaf group leader of Central Valley Deaf Ministries at the Fresno Central SDA Church.

ROLLS, REX WITH RUTH & NONA

Rex Rolls came into the deaf work in California – partly because he had a deaf brother and could sign. In 1961, Rex Rolls, who had been a colporteur in Nevada, was invited by the Southern California Conference to take Kohler’s place when Kohler returned to hearing ministry. For many years, Rex and his wife Ruth worked with the Deaf, ending up living in Portland and contributing to deaf work there, too. They had their 50th wedding anniversary in 1978. However, Ruth passed away, and Rex married Nona. Nona became strongly involved with the Deaf, and her interest even continued after the death of Rex. Rex’s influence was important in helping the Deaf put on a yearly camp meeting for Deaf at Milo Academy.

TREXLER, DAVID & FRANCISCA

[Most of this information was supplied by Pastor Trexler -including the story of how they became Adventists]

David and Francisca both trace their becoming Adventists back to their years associated with Gallaudet University. In 1968, with a Deaf instructor at a Mathematic class, David, a Deist, was informed about a student who was pointed out to him who was sitting in his class. He said that this student (Tom Groth, an Adventist from Washington state) was a vegetarian. David became interested in challenging Tom about the need for protein. But, during the argument in the class, David was challenged by Tom on the issue of protein in a vegetarian diet. David determined to research about protein to find out who was right. But, to David’s shock and dismay, Tom was correct that some beans have higher protein than meats. Because of his pride, David refused to admit to Tom that Tom was correct. Then a few days later, during the search for a third roommate, David’s school friend found a possible new roommate. When they went to his dorm, to David’s chagrin, he met Tom Groth. However, Tom couldn’t join them for he already had two roommates.

But, during the casual conversation in Tom’s room, while making new friends, David was curious about some books on Tom’s desk. He was wondering about Tom’s odd belief on vegetarianism. He also saw an open book showing a picture of Jesus with a family with white robes in a lovely park. David asked Tom about the picture. Tom told him that it was heaven.

David was surprised because he always believed that dead people go to the clouds and play harps forever. No trees, flowers, and animals, just clouds. Then David asked Tom for some evidence. Tom showed David some Bible facts that really shook him. Immediately David became interested in learning the truths in the Bible. It was suggested that David take the Voice of Prophecy’s Faith lessons. With the Spirit’s guidance, the influence of other interested friends, and Bible studies, David finally became convinced that Adventism contained the truths that he needed for his life. David was baptized at the Silver Spring SDA Church in 1969.

Francisca came from Arizona and had attended a Deaf school in Tucson, Arizona. Francisca’s friend had taught her about Jesus Christ who died for her. She was touched by His willingness to die for all the people in the world. That was a turning point leading her to search for more truth.

In 1967, Francisca went on to attend Gallaudet University. At Gallaudet College (now University), Francisca’s friend’s boyfriend shared Adventist’s teachings with her. He said that we should keep the Sabbath according to the Ten Commandments. At first, Francisca didn’t believe him. Eventually she left the group and for a time didn’t bother to go further with them. But, God did not give up! Later – at night in a dream – an angel of God finger-spelled two Bible verses for her to look at: Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-15. Francisca was surprised that the angel finger-spelled. It was so clear and could not be overlooked. She went back to see her friend’s boyfriend and told him how the angel of God finger- spelled the Bible reference for her to look up. He was surprised.

The following year, her roommate told her that there was another Adventist Deaf student at the College, Tom Groth. With her friends she met him. Francisca asked him for Bible studies, but he gave her the enrollment post card from the Voice of Prophecy. The 40 Faith Bible lessons were fascinating to her. She studied them on her own, but had several questions to ask. Tom then introduced her to a Bible worker from the church. The following week, the Bible worker, Ann Schroeder, came to her dormitory for a Bible study. Ann taught her for a year. After that year, Francisca told Mrs. Schroeder that God impressed her that she should be baptized in Tucson. This was so that her favorite aunt, her precious mom, and her brother could witness her baptism. She was baptized in 1969, the same year as David was baptized. Today, Francisca is grateful to know Jesus Christ as her Lord and Saviour and the truth she had found at last.

At the same university David met Francisca at a Bible class given by Pastor Alfred Griffith. Their friendship grew, and David and Francisca were married in Tucson in 1970.

David left Gallaudet to work and support themselves. Trexlers then lived in various places: Takoma Park, MD and Tucson, AZ and Dallas, Oregon. David went back to College and graduated in Oregon with a B.S. and an M.S. in Education. In 1985 Trexler accepted a call to work for the Christian Deaf Center (CDC) in Arkansas. David and Francisca spent one year as teachers there when the Blake’s returned to Canada. But, in 1986, CDC closed, and Trexlers moved to Lincoln, NE where David got a B.S. in Religion from Union College. But, there were no pastoral openings, so Trexlers moved to Devil’s Lake, North Dakota, where for two years David taught at the school for the Deaf. Francisca pursued a college education and worked as the deaf school dorm supervisor.

Around 1992, when Don Griffith left the Christian Record, David was called to be an assistant to Thompson Kay. However, in 1997, the Christian Record closed their Deaf Department, and David had to find work elsewhere. Then, for about a year Kay and Trexler worked in Deaf Ministry as they could – as volunteers In 1999, Adventist Deaf Ministries (now called Three Angels Deaf Ministries) was started in Lincoln. Thompson Kay became Executive Director and David as Associate Director for ADM.

A year later (2000) David received a call to become a pastor of the Deaf at the Silver Springs Deaf congregation in Maryland. He continued there until 2007.

In the mean time, Jim Hovey had become the ADM Director and the ADM office had moved to Apache
Junction, Arizona. However, by 2007 Jim Hovey’s health was suffering and he resigned. So in 2007, David was asked to take the ADM leadership. After very prayerful consideration, David and Francisca decided to accept the call.

David has now been Director/Speaker of Three Angel’s Deaf Ministries (3ADM) for almost 11 years (in 2018).

Since 1982 David has been in constant demand as a presenter at camp meetings and special weekends for the Deaf all over the USA. He has also made mission trips to various countries including Bermuda, Kenya, France, Canada, Mexico, Barbados, Japan and India.

After a lot of challenge and hard work, Francisca got her Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family. Instead of working to earn a well-paid second income, Francisca has worked part time as an assistant director for 3ADM. She also works as a part-time chaplain at Gallaudet University. She has also devoted her efforts to counseling and giving Bible studies over the Internet. She continues to assist her husband in his many duties with 3ADM. Francisca has been a featured speaker at different places giving marriage and family enrichment programs.

David and Francisca have two adult sons, Alfred and Arthur. Both of them are CODA and sign very well. Arthur voice interpreted the full evangelistic video series for his father David in the Clinton Arkansas church school gym in 2,000.

WITTEBORG, RAJ & JENNY

For some years Raj was the Potomac Conference pastor for the Deaf with the Silver Springs, Maryland church. Raj graduated from Columbia Union College and began his ministry at Silver Springs in 1988. He was ordained to the ministry five years later in November 1993. Raj was the third deaf person to be ordained as a pastor in the SDA church. Jenny was also very active in their ministry and gave valuable service along with Raj. Unfortunately things did not work out, and Raj’s pastoral ministry later ended.



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