In the parable of the sower, the seed falls on all types of ground, some harder than others. In the same way, God calls missionaries to all types of people, some more resistant to the Gospel message than others. But, no matter where God has placed them, God gives the strength to continue and reap a harvest. Bill and Linnea MacCallum, missionaries to the Deaf, are in a hard patch of ground, but they have remained faithful and are beginning to see the fruits of their labor.
Bill MacCullum took his first American Sign Language class (ASL) in 1980 at a local church in Bristol, Tennessee. His wife, Linnea, started learning signs from Bill after they were married in 1989. They were both saved in 1990 and have since been involved in reaching the Deaf of America in various ways. It was in 2001 that they joined BIMI to become church planters to the Deaf.
Currently, they are working in Frederick, Maryland, establishing the first independent deaf Baptist church known as Crossroad Deaf Baptist Church. They arrived in Frederick in June of 2007. While doing research about Frederick, they soon learned that there are 16,000 deaf in the general Frederick area and no solid witness to them. Bill and Linnea took the first few months to learn the lay of the land and to canvass the area with 5,000 John and Romans. It was during this time that they began to meet many of the Deaf of Frederick.
They held their first church service in a local Best Western Hotel meeting room, on October 7, 2007. Only he and his wife were present. As the MacCullums had found in the past, and was holding true now, the Deaf community is a hard community to get into and requires time to prove to them that you can be trusted. There are 30 million deaf in America and they have a culture that is their own.
Since that first service, the MacCullums have seen God work and open doors for them. They are now holding services in the conference room of the local Fredrick County Deaf Services. It sits 128 people and has a storefront right next door to the Deaf Services Offices. They started out those first few months with only one young man coming, mainly for a question and answer time. Now they have deaf folk coming every Sunday for Sunday school and morning and evening services. Bill is also doing Bible studies throughout the week.
Their most interesting outreach they have had is through ASL classes in three different local elementary schools. They have seen as many as 50 children come to church through their classes. The MacCullums also use local city-wide activities as an outreach and a way to introduce people to the church.
One of the hardest things they deal with is finding the Deaf at home, and when they do, many of the Deaf either don't see the need of church or they go to the local Church of Christ, Church of the Brethren, or the Catholic Church. The Deaf there are much like the hearing folks, very materialistic and focused on this world.
Linnea keeps busy with the deaf ladies of the church with outreaches like crafts and tea times. She is currently in the process of developing a Bible study for the deaf ladies. She also keeps busy by proof reading and checking grammar for their prayer letters, Bible studies, and such. She also does most of the in-class work for the ASL classes, being a trained and experienced teacher herself and very good with children.
Their goals are to see more Deaf saved and trained to know how to serve God in any way He leads. Their long term goal is to train deaf young men to become pastors of not only their current work, but for works that will develop in the future. They would also like to see more American Deaf become missionaries to the Deaf of the world. They pray that more churches would see the need for reaching the Deaf, like any other language group.