Hearing impaired ministry introduced to Panola County

Published 10:28 am Friday, February 23, 2018

Hearing impaired ministry introduced to Panola County

Bro. Jeremy “Bud” Ring holds signs the international signs for “I Love You.”

By Jeremy Weldon
A unique ministry geared specifically for the deaf and hearing impaired has been operating in Panola County this week, and one local congregation hopes to build upon this week’s groundwork.
Bro. Jeremy “Bud” Ring, along with his wife Jenna, and children Amy and Khloe have been working out of Bethany Baptist Church this week, and preparing a special service and fellowship on Sunday evening for all deaf and hearing impaired people who want to attend.
The Ring Family are Canadians and are based in Nova Scotia. The missionaries are part of Silent Word Ministries, a world-wide outreach for the deaf, based in Trenton, Ga.
The ministry works with churches, social groups, and other organizations across North America each week, but focuses most of its efforts on local congregations.
Bethany Baptist pastor Tim Ellis met the Rings at a mission conference in Alabama, and invited them to bring their work to North Mississippi.
“I have had a burden for some time now about reaching the hearing impaired people of our county,” Ellis said. “It was an answered prayer to meet this family that is so well-versed in sign language, and our community is blessed to have them here.”
The Rings have a model for their ministry that has proven itself in many congregations around the country, and even the world.
The family usually arrives in a new town on Monday, and holds sign language classes for members of local churches each night of the week.
“We try to teach people about 400-500 signs during the week which sounds like a lot, but is about what most people can learn in a few days,” Ring said. “That is enough sign to be able to communicate with the deaf, and once a connection is made, signers usually start improving their vocabulary very quickly.”
After a few nights of intensive sign classes, and tips about how to minister to the deaf community, Ring will host a special service just for the hearing impaired.
“It’s really good when you have an interpreter signing for the deaf during a service, but it’s even better when the person leading the service and preaching is signing also. They really appreciate the special services,” he said.
Following the service the Rings and hosting church have a fellowship that serves to introduce the guests to local members.
The goal, Ring said, is to leave a church with enough people trained in rudimentary signing that the deaf and hearing impaired can feel comfortable attending and can understand at least part of the services.
Pastor Ellis knows building such a ministry will be slow and time consuming, but isn’t discouraged by the challenge. “We don’t expect our people to learn enough sign language to interpret our full services right away, but I believe what some have learned this week is definitely enough to reach this segment of our population who often don’t attend services because of the hearing barrier.”
Ring hopes to be able to return on a yearly basis for refresher courses and to help boost the ministry as needed. “We like to leave a church and know that we have left behind enough information for local pastors and members to carry forward.”
For his part, Ring is always searching for new areas to present his work, and spread the Gospel to the deaf population.
“Our whole ministry started when one deaf man began coming to our church in Nova Scotia, and we couldn’t communicate with him,” he said. When his church learned a few signs and began to include the deaf man in their services, Ring was hooked.
“I started visiting the deaf people, teaching deaf Sunday School, and doing all I could to reach more souls,” he said. “I knew this was what me and my family was supposed to be doing for the Lord.”
After serving in his local Canadian church, Ring and his family answered the call to full-time ministry in 2013. Since then they have traveled to numerous churches with their program.
Pastor Ellis has invited everyone who wants to take part in the special service for the deaf and hearing impaired, to attend Bethany Baptist on Eureka Road, about five miles east of Batesville. The service will begin at 6 p.m.
For more information, contact Ring directly at 902-530-2677.