March 2017: Betty Mills
Betty Mills (’71) serves as an interpreter for the deaf at Altoona Regular Baptist Church in Altoona, Iowa. While serving there, Betty also worked as a deaf education associate for the Des Moines school system.
Betty had only been saved a short time before graduating from a local community college and coming to Faith. After she graduated with a business degree, she married a high school classmate. Her first exposure to deaf ministry was at their church when a deaf individual visited one Sunday. Only one person at the church knew American Sign Language (ASL), so Betty and some other members began learning ASL to help the ministry there. As several more deaf people began attending, a deaf church began, and Betty began learning to sign more than ever. She saw the need for the Deaf to hear the gospel in their own language.
“The very best communicator for the gospel is one of their own,” Betty explained. “There are not enough Deaf pastors available to meet the needs of all the Deaf, so interpreters are available to help in some hearing churches. Most churches do not have an interpreter, however, and many larger cities do not have any interpreters in gospel-preaching churches. Deaf will go where there is an interpreter.”
While Betty was working from home, she met a deaf woman who told her about opportunities with the Des Moines schools. The schools bring in deaf education associates to substitute for interpreters if they were absent. At first Betty was hesitant, but after meeting one of the deaf education associates, she decided to apply. As Betty said, “the rest is history.”
This job allowed Betty to make many new connections in the Deaf world. She had many opportunities to connect with deaf students. She recounted one story of working with two boys from Sudan. Both boys came to church, and after months of prayer and several events demonstrating God’s sovereignty, they were saved. One of them is even studying at a Deaf Bible college in Georgia.
Betty retired from the school several years ago due to some health complications, but she is continuing to serve faithfully in the deaf ministry at her church. As she continues working with the Deaf, God continues giving her opportunities to share His love with them.
“It is fun to open the world to them, because we learn so much by what we learned from our parents, and other people’s conversations. The deaf have never had those opportunities. English sentence structure is difficult and therefore reading is difficult for Deaf, but love is a language everyone can understand. I want to continue working with the Deaf. Deaf and hearing are alike, both need to hear the gospel and mature in the Christian life. God saved me to serve.”