Background and Salvation Testimony
I (Matt) grew up in Philadelphia with a non-religious family. Since I was born deaf, my parents decided to put me into a Catholic school for the deaf inside the city for their quality education. However, God used this to instill in me a desire to know Him, and I tried to reach out to Him in my own way by following Catholic traditions. I then went to a public high school where I met a friend who shared the gospel with me. I did not accept it at first, but my interest was piqued after he shared with me some differences between Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic church. After doing my own research on those differences and learning about church history on my own, I became saved.
I (Colleen) grew up in a single-parent, nominally Catholic family. My grandmother was devout and often tried to share traditions with me, such as the rosary, but I always felt something was missing. When I was 11 my dad trusted Christ as his Saviour, and for 14 years prayed diligently for my salvation. It required a long time, and a hard road, but on February 14th 2006 I realized my great need for the Lord, and trusted Him as my Saviour.
Call to Preach and Ministry
Upon being saved in the middle of high school, I stopped my pursuits of going to a secular college and asked the Lord what He wanted from me. As I read the Bible, the desire to preach and share His Word with others grew slowly in my heart. After graduation in 2008, I applied to Capital Baptist Deaf College in Silver Spring, MD which was under my current sending church, Hampshire View Baptist Deaf Church. After graduating from Bible college in 2012, I became an associate pastor and was given responsibility for various ministries including the van, discipleship, and college & career ministries.
A couple years after graduation, I started to ask the Lord where I should go (or stay). He was already working on me to set up a church similar to my current church, an autonomous church for the deaf, in/ near a major city in America. My wife and I prayed for more than a year and prayed over specific cities but never Philadelphia, since that was my hometown. On my way home, after visiting relatives, I was on a highway in Philly that overlooks the entire city. As I was taking in the view, the Lord “struck a hammer on my head” and burdened me to set up a deaf church in this city. It took a moment for me to gather my thoughts together but I accepted. Upon arriving home I told my wife that “we need to talk” and explained to her where the Lord wants us to go. When she heard Philadelphia, she jumped out of her seat and was thrilled. She already had a burden for the city before we even married but never informed me until that night. That was when I knew for sure this was the Lord’s calling.
This is the vision that the Lord has given us: to set up an independent, fundamental, Baptist, deaf church inside Philadelphia. We will be reaching out to the deaf within and just outside the city. Our goal is to make this church an autonomous and self sustaining church that is lead, supported, and run by the deaf. In the very long term, it is our hope that the Lord will use it to propagate likeminded churches across major cities in America. Will you support us in our vision? Please pray if it is the Lord’s will for you to invite us to present our ministry in your church. Thank you,