THREE HOURS AND WAITING
--by Scott Crabtree--
Kendal, the young deaf man from St. Lucia, came rushing in through the door of the church and exclaimed, "I am so sorry we are late. We had to wait three hours for the bus!" I sat there and thought to myself: How many people, hearing or Deaf, would be willing to stand at a bus stop and wait for three hours just to get to church?
Several months ago, Pastor Lou Guadagno, one of our supporting pastors from Hamburg, NY, contacted me regarding the possibility of going to a camp meeting being held on the island of St. Lucia. At this meeting would be several Caribbean pastors--his desire was for me to speak to these pastors about the need to establish Deaf works on the surrounding Caribbean islands.
Although honored by the request, I initially felt that the trip would detract me from my original purpose of raising support to get to the field. And, the Caribbean islands are often thought of as a vacation resort for Americans. I could imagine people thinking, "Suuuuure, they're going on a missions trip!" In order to make it happen, we would have to fly my mother-in-law up to watch the girls, we would then fly to Austin, TX, to be in a missions conference, and then fly straight to St. Lucia. With these doubts in mind, we decided to go anyway. Praise the Lord, we did.
St. Lucia is a beautiful country, but filled with impoverished people. We pulled up to Ambassador Baptist Church, a church built on the hillside. Pastor Sam Philbert graciously headed up the conference for the week. It was truly an honor to get to know the Caribbean and American pastors and missionaries and hear of the work of God being done in the islands as well as the States.
As soon as I met Kendal and Shyla, I knew that there was something special about them. They are both deaf and he is the Deaf pastor for the church--his wife is 7 1/2 months pregnant and will soon deliver their first child. This child (they tell me) will have a Christian name. This sweet and tenacious couple are burdened for the Deaf on their island and others. Kendal has a driver's license but has no vehicle to bring the Deaf to church. We spent an afternoon with them in a taxi to reach out to the Deaf in the area and invite them to the camp meeting. Each one of the Deaf we visited on the list came to the service.
My heart breaks that the Deaf cannot attend regularly because they have no way to get there. Kendal works and provides for his family, but a vehicle is a luxury they cannot afford. He and his wife have been to Bible college, but his lack of ability to speak to hearing people limits his ability to raise the funds. They continue to wait patiently on the Lord. The wages for the Deaf in the area are often low due to the fact that they are easily taken advantage of. Pastor Philbert said that the deaf members in his church are a very loyal, faithful, and determined group of people. The fact that they would wait for three hours for a ride to church is an indication of this fact. We need more laborers for the Deaf harvest. Please pray that the Deaf seed was planted and that it continues to grow and reaches into St. Lucia and the surrounding islands.
An interesting side note: While there, we met an aviation missionary family who decided to personally take us on for support. So much for my concern about being deterred from deputation. Thank you to the AJ James family for believing in our mission, and thank you to Pastor Guadagno and the great folks from Old Time Baptist Church for making this trip possible.
1. Singing group from Old Time Baptist Church in Hamburg, NY
2. Some of the Caribbean pastors at camp meeting in St. Lucia
3. Deaf St. Lucians who came out for the camp meeting