Ronnie Rice, an evangelist with International Deaf Ministries of Virginia, spoke to Maranatha’s Beginning Sign Language class recently.
Rice was an orphan, saved as a teenager while working at Bill Rice Ranch. Ranch employees were required to attend church services. It was at one of those services that a church member led Rice to the Lord. Working at the ranch helped him grow in his Christian walk, and he was eventually adopted by Dr. Bill and Cathy Rice. Ronnie Rice continues to preach at the Ranch every summer.
“(God) changed my life,” Rice said.
International Deaf Ministries was founded in 1988. Rice has traveled as an evangelist for 39 years, visiting churches across the U.S. and in 13 other countries. Seeing more camps established for deaf children is Rice’s primary burden, he said.
Rice shared his testimony with the class, but the importance of deaf ministries was his primary message Rice attempted to communicate. He would like to see the students learn American Sign Language and use it in areas such as missions, professional interpreting, and education of both deaf children and their parents.
Alyssa Kowach, a freshman from Helenville, WI, wants to do just that.
“I hope to be able to use my sign language wherever I am,” Kowach said.
Kimberly Richerson, a freshman from Elmwood, IL, said Rice shared how many people don’t want a deaf child.
“Most people don’t want anything to do with the deaf because they are different,” she said.
Rice told the class that some parents of deaf children refuse to learn sign language and are thus unable to communicate with their children.
“Deaf ministry is important because they are people,” Kowach said. Richerson added, “The deaf are lost too. We need to be able to share the gospel with them. It is … like the deaf are a foreign field. We need people to be able to share the gospel with them!”
–By Brynn Fitzsimmons