B.E. Tour Testimonies: blast from the past

Picture: right to left: Michelle Chamberlain, Carole McClelland, Michelle Harris (Carole’s sister) after Olathe, KS performance at Deaf International Community Church

Carole McClelland and Michelle’s Testimony

It finally happened after five long years, my sister, Michelle made it back to York, PA. Michelle and her husband, John, both lived in York PA and had many great friends through a strong church. It had been 5 years of life since leaving PA. Life led them to Chicago and then finally to settle in Kansas City, MO. With two beautiful daughters, jobs, demands of life – my sister had not been able to go back and visit PA although she had longed to since she had left.

It was after she had come to our Burning Embers performance in Olathe, KS in June this summer that she knew she had to go. She was really touched by the drama “Masks.” The main character puts on masks to hide his real identity and match the expectations of others. In the end, Jesus knocks on his door and he does not know which mask to wear so tries all of them. Jesus takes off each mask and asks for his heart, his real desires and being.  Through this drama, she recognized that she had desires like going to PA that she was suppressing and not being real with God, others and herself.

Despite the expense, having to be away from her husband and daughters and taking time off from her job, she needed to go. She decided through prayer after the performance that she would take off any masks she was putting on and be real. She wanted and had to go to PA to visit her friends and church family that meant so much to her. She would trust God for the rest. And God provided. Soon after she was given 400 dollars for her birthday that she used for the plane ticket and then everything else fell into perfect place by her heavenly Father who wanted to grant her the desires of her heart.

After five long years, she was refreshed and encouraged by her friends in PA and had an amazing visit for her 30th birthday! But it started with Jesus simply speaking through a drama, “Michelle I just want your heart, tell me your desires.”
Renca Dunn’s Testimony
This road trip has turned out to be unbelievably amazing. Yes, putting eight people in one van for two months is definitely crazy, but not crazy enough for God. I am just overwhelmed with God’s heart for us and what He showed us on the trip. I am so grateful for every person that crossed our paths. I cannot thank all of the hosts who took us in with tender love and made sure we were well-rested and well-fed. I could go on with many awesome stories, but I want to share one of the most important things that God has taught me on this road trip. Someone (or a group) broke in our van when our team was in Seattle, Washington. It was a really weird robbery incident because there were many technology gadgets like laptops, GPS, cameras, etc. out in the open. Some laptops were on top of the van seats. The GPS was very visible, near the dashboard.Whoever broke in our van did not touch those things, but took only one thing: my personal bag. Now, in my personal bag was just simply my passport, my travel sized Bible, and a few Christian books. Yes, I am really sad that my passport has been stolen because I had all of the countries I traveled to stamped inside since 2006. Yes, I am really sad about my travel sized Bible being stolen too because I actually had a personal connection to it. However, I realized that the person who took my bag actually took something more valuable than laptops, GPS, cameras, etc. which is the Bible. In the world’s eyes- the Bible is just a “book.” If you really know the Bible, it is not just a “book” but a story that contains the living and breathing Word of our God. That is the best thing that a person can steal. Over time, I realized God has taught me that what was stolen is just a bunch of materials. They fade away. They get expired. They can be destroyed. However, my love for God will never be destroyed. Having Jesus living inside my heart will never be taken away from me. Sometimes it is easy for us to grow attached to a “material.” It is okay to feel connected to something, but if it becomes a priority then we need to reconsider who or what we put first in our lives. I always put God first, but this incident was a good reminder for me.

B.E. Tour: Final

Not a day goes by our team isn’t challenged with something or has something to celebrate. The countless people we’ve met over the course of two months was beyond what any of us expected. For some of us, we saw old and familiar faces but left knowing we were really blessed, encouraged and we were somehow hope we were able to return the favor. After two months of driving 10,535 miles, over 27 stops and eight people in a 15 passenger van, we all agreed it was one, amazing, summer.

Dayton, Ohio: where rekindling ministries happen

Dayton was not only a great stop because we saw our old friends, Josh and Kari Ortega and their baby to be, but also because we were able to witness to something amazing.

About 100 people showed up at the performance at their church. Both hearing and deaf, young and old. We saw familiar faces from Gallaudet University and also those who’ve attended local churches in Washington, DC.

We later learned of how many interpreters from different churches begin to talk with each other. They told us how they used to partner in with each other  but had a falling out. This performances not only gave them insight on life but they realized the need to have partnership with each other again and decided to put aside the reasons for the falling out. The need for partnership is important to them now. This was a great testimony because many of us don’t believe that churches should be working by themselves. Working together can bring a stronger foundation to ministry and community, especially in the Christian world. Seeing this was not only amazing but a huge answer to our prayers!

Mercer, Pennsylvania: our last performance and a place to rest

Our team has been to the McClelland farm before, it’s always a place we like to call home for a few days where we can rest. But because Patty McClelland helped tremendously with the script writing and many of our supporters are from Mercer, we felt we owed it to them by giving the final hurrah for our tour.

Our very last performance was actually met with challenges behind the scenes and on stage but the show went on. We all felt it was bittersweet because it was the last time we would perform but we were grateful for the 20+ performances we’ve given this summer. We loved seeing hearts soften, insight blown away, community brought together and lives changed.

A Special Thank You Shout Out!

Our team is very grateful for the countless people we’ve met this summer. We were not only blessed with a place to sleep but also with provision for things we needed: food, showers, laundry, rest and of course, fun! More importantly of how people were willing to open their homes, churches and their hearts with us. We’re also thankful for Patty and Dan McClelland and Renca Dunn for the script writing. And Renca who also helped plan the B.E. outreach to the very last detail and made all of the right connections to led us to divine appointments. And last but not least, we’re thankful for God who gave us this vision and making it happen with a desire to reach out to people within the deaf community. We couldn’t have done it without Him!

Next post: B.E. Tour Testimonies

 

B.E. Tour Update: Pt. 5

St. Paul, Minnesota: First Deaf Life Church (Deaf/Deaf-Blind)

Emory and Cindy co-lead First Deaf Life Church and also help support various of ministries nationwide. Emory is also the new president of World Deaf Assemblies of God and is thrilled to let us be a part of his family’s celebration. We performed at two locations, two ministries but both within the same church. The first one was the general deaf congregation where we met up at Antler Park for a picnic and a baptism. Followed with an evening with an amazing woman of God who brought along a young friend who needed to be bombed with encouragement because of her struggles in life with health and family. The second performance was for the deaf-blind ministry; we were grateful for all the amazing interpreters who pitched in and gave them an opportunity know what God is doing. Brandon’s family also joined us.

During our free time, we hit the Mall of America for a few hours. Almost a dozen friends we’ve met or knew, tagged along.

Milwaukee, Wisconsin at Maranatha Deaf Church was a holy roar:

Our drama we hope make people laugh as we don’t always want to consider ourselves serious. Maranatha Deaf Church was roaring with laughter and we were soaking it up behind the scenes. The church had a potluck before we performed which we enjoyed as we chatted with people. Fellowship was short after because many people work early in the morning. But whatever words were spoken, we felt hearts were lighter and perhaps mending after spending some time here. Even the kids approached Brandon and played with him because he was a favorite in many of the skits.

We stayed with a friend name Heather Shur and her parents home whom many of us are friends with. It was their first time hosting missionaries (other than their daughter). We not only appreciated their hospitality but thoroughly enjoyed many conversations and jokes.

Chicago, Illinois at St. Paul Lutheran Church, where we’re one big family:

We didn’t spend too much time in Chicago but we had an opportunity to meet Carole McClelland’s family: the Ruiz. Her mom signed the Lord’s prayer with two other women. One who knew a little bit of sign language and another who gladly joined. After our performances, we went off to our hosts homes where we were really blessed with great conversations, ice cream and food.

Milford, Indiana at Indiana Deaf Camp where Superheroes are trained

Our team not only performs but we love serving. We decided to make a one week stop in Milford, Indiana and work at the Indiana Deaf Camp. Some of us were camp counselors, some of us worked in Good Sports, some of us were in crafts. Our team was pretty busy. We did some of our performances on Tuesday night which was strategic because we wanted to open up an opportunity for kids or the staff to come and talk with us if they wanted to.

Renca worked with the Blue group which was ages from 13-16. The Blue group is not only the toughest group but they were actually one of the most broken. The drama opened up their hearts through the week. Renca was able to share what was on her heart with the girls in her cabin. They simply needed someone to listen, be open and loving. It really makes a difference.

Noblesville, Indiana at Creekside Ministries and MDO

A few of us had already been to Creekside (CS) before so we already knew what to expect. For those of you who don’t know, it’s a really anointed church where half are hearing and half are deaf. Everyone honors each other for who they are.

We only showed two of our skits but people loved it, especially the part in Masks about religion. They laughed but they also knew why it was important to show that specific part.

We stayed with the Alanco family. Not only did they open their homes but opened up their family to us as well. Not a time went by we were hanging out with someone.

We also performed a little bit at the Deaf Youth Sports Festival, Inc. Also known as MDO. We were asked at the last minute this week to perform briefly there. Kids who are athletes in training for the Deaf Olympics. We were surprised to see some kids we met from the Indiana Deaf Camp but were encouraged to see new faces as well. We didn’t have a chance to hang out after with them but hope the skts gave them something to think about.

Up Next: Dayton, OH and Mercer, PA

 

B.E. Tour Update: Pt 4

The many possibilities in San Francisco, CA:

Since our performances for the most part were put on hold, we still take the opportunity to meet people on the road. In San Francisco, we met up with SF YWAM directors at Mozzeria, a deaf owned and run restaurant. With the two of them, we discussed how they run in CA and what their vision was. One of the things they shared was their hearts for the deaf community in CA and possibly starting a ministry there. On top of hearing this, we were munching on delicious pizza and chatting with the waitresses working there as well as some people we met at WDAG. We were thankful for the opportunity to connect with the directors there and get an idea of the possibilities for the future in terms of deaf ministry.

Opened hearts in Redding, CA: 

Our team was immensely blessed by the Bethel’s deaf ministry after church service when we were invited to their Bible study. They shared what they’ve been studying but decided to take a break to bless us with a word from God individually. While they may be a small bunch, they are bold in faith with the many testimonies they shared from healing to growing with God. Some people from the team ended up talking to a few people asking about a painting and ended up simply ministering and praying for them.

Bountiful but fun rest in Grants Pass, OR:

While Renca was gone, we had the opportunity to go to her Aunt and Uncle’s home for a couple of days to rest. We were grateful for the opportunity to hang out and get to know more about Renca and her family. We did one of our skits for them. On our off time, we went down to the river to swim in the cold water but enjoyed basking in the sunshine.

More family time in Tacoma, WA:

We had the opportunity to hang out with Gabriel Gabriel Villahermosa’s family. His parents hosted all the boy while his grandmother hosted the Dan, Carole and the girls. Both of them not only made sure they were fed but were able to encourage each other, one way or another and super blessed. We also met with a future DTS student who drove a few hours from Canada to meet with us and very excited to have her joining in September.

Broken windows don’t stop us in Everett and Spokane, WA

We spent the fourth of July with the Bethany Christian Assembly Church Deaf ministry. They toured us around Seattle to see some well known sights near the Waterfront and the Needle. However, our van was broken into but only Renca Dunn’s bag was stolen which only had her Bible, passport and other miscellaneous items.  Though disappointed, we hope whoever stole it actually reads the Bible. We ended up having to stay an additional night in order to wait for the window repair place to open after a long 4th of July weekend to repair the broken window. We were grateful for our hosts to let us stay another night and not rush out Sunday afternoon. Our plans to Vancouver, BC in Canada were cancelled but we went to Spokane on Monday and stayed with deaf pastors. They shared not only their delicious raspberries but much about their faith from thorough their journey and encouraged us.

In the middle of nowhere; Three Forks, MT:

Three Forks may be in the middle of nowhere, but it’s beautiful and welcoming. We stayed with family who simply wanted to share their home and host us for the evening and maybe play with the kids. We got to know them a little but wished for more time.

Adoring one’s beauty in Yellowstone, WY:

We all need a break now and then, and with a long drive ahead of us this week; we decided to camp out for a couple of nights in Yellowstone National Park. We saw the Old Faithful where some of the most amazing’s Geysers spring from the air. We also went rowing in the Bay area. We encountered a bison in our very own campsite and a few of us got some selfies. We only hoped it didn’t detect our fear!

Just a night in Rapid City, SD,

Our original plans in Sioux Falls fell through but we grabbed a chance to stop for the night in Rapid City, SD and also went to see the works with Crazy Horse and also Mount Rushmore. After a night in Rapid City, it will be super busy once again.