Guest speaker Nathan Hill, pastor of Agape Deaf Baptist Church in Stone Mountain, Georgia, led the gatherings for adults, focusing on building a relationship with God. Hill compared it with a garden that allows for a place of intimate communication — when God made Adam, He put him in the Garden of Eden so He would have a quiet place to worship with undivided attention.
Hill told the group about Wang Mingdao, a pastor in China who was imprisoned at age 60 for 23 years. He transformed his cell into a garden, Hill related, though not a literal one — Mingdao had no possessions or contact with others, and spent all day every day in communion with God in that garden.
After he was released, a journalist interviewed Mingdao, who asked the reporter, “Young man, how do you walk with God?” He quickly mentioned spiritual disciplines like Bible study and prayer. But Mingdao told him all his answers were wrong, saying, “To walk with God you must go at a walking pace!”
Hill said most people today are too busy, believing in “microwave Christianity” when they need to be “in the slow cooker.”
While the adults were meeting, teens (both hearing and deaf) were having fun, fellowship and teaching. Guest speaker Nathan Burleson, a deacon at Deaf Fellowship Church in Little Rock, Arkansas, shared about situations that cause division today. Most agreed social media generates a lot of the difficulty.
During a business session, a motion proposed by Steve Dye, Deaf ministry catalyst for the Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, suggested that instead of having traditional officers, the leadership model ABCD has used to this point, they switch to a board style. He said he has seen it work in other states and feels it would relieve the pressure of trying to find officers. The motion passed.
Current officers include Jeff Farmer, president, member of Eden Westside Deaf Ministry in Pell City; Mark Moore, vice president, member of Eden Westside; Paul Pitts, treasurer, member of Birmingham Community Deaf Church; and Jin Mayer, secretary, member of Dauphin Way Baptist Church in Mobile. The positions of assistant secretary and webmaster have not been filled.
Dye is thankful to be able to meet in person again with Deaf Baptists from all over the state.
“After all of the pandemic situation, this was the first ABCD that we had [in two years],” he said. “So many of us were spread out. The pandemic has impacted many people in many different ways. It was good to come back among our brothers and sisters in Christ from afar.”