Divine Appointments are the best! Hello, my name is Carole McClelland and my husband, Daniel, and I lead the American Sign Language (ASL) house for David’s Tent.
Even though neither of us are Deaf, God placed a passion in our hearts and a calling on our life to make Him known within the Deaf population. Our staff, a mixture of hearing and Deaf who share this vision, all live in one house in NE Washington DC. The unique thing about our house, and our watch when we are at the tent, is that our common language in conversation and worship is ASL. Every day we serve at the tent for 3.5 hours, worshipping in ASL, and if there is a guest praise team scheduled during our watch, we always have an interpreter signing along with that team.
When we are not at the tent, our focus is knowing God and making God known in the Deaf community here in DC. Since our staff house is near Gallaudet University, the only all Deaf university in the world, our team has many opportunities to make God known in the Deaf community.
We can be found having lunch with a college student from Gallaudet University, attending Deaf social activities, building relationships one-on- one, encouraging the youth at a young adult Bible study in MD, or sharing at a Deaf church in VA. No matter what the activity, our heart is to see the Deaf grow in their personal relationship with Jesus. What a joy it is when we have the opportunity to partner with God in this way through a David’s Tent encounter.
I would like to share just one story to illustrate how God delights in setting up divine appointments for us as we follow Him. If we plug into Him, His networking system is amazing!
For this story, it all started with a sweatshirt. I often wear my David’s Tent sweatshirt when out in the community, but only once in nine months has a stranger come up to me when I wore it to tell me they knew about the Tent. On this one particular day, it was a couple, Miriam and Aaron. It turns out this family knows the Hershey family from their homeschooling group and were familiar with the 24/7 worship occurring at David’s Tent. After we talked for ten minutes and met each other’s children, this couple and I went our separate ways.
Later that day I texted Kimberlee Hershey sharing that I met her friends, Miriam and Aaron. In response, Kimberlee texted back saying how awesome that was since their youngest son was born Deaf. She added that the family had decided to learn ASL but were overwhelmed with it all. “What!” I thought to myself, “Their son is deaf, and it never came up in our conversation!” I always talk about the Deaf community, yet, on this day, Miriam, Aaron and I did not discuss sign language. Bummer!
It felt like a missed opportunity. However, our heavenly Dad was not finished with His incredible, divine appointments. The following day at David’s Tent, Aaron, the husband, walked into the Tent to take a break from his jog. Of course, it was during our watch! He approached me and said hello. Without hesitating I said, “Kimberlee Hershey told me your son is deaf.” I went on to tell him that Dan and I both know ASL and led a ministry in DC for young, deaf adults to know Jesus more. We talked for a while about the Deaf community and language. Encouraged, he shared the signs he knew and asked me to teach him a few more.
Before leaving the Tent, we exchanged emails. Since that day, we have been over to their house twice for dinner, and Dan has played basketball with Aaron and a Deaf man that Aaron randomly met. God has brought us alongside Aaron and Miriam to encourage them that they are amazing parents to Jesse, their youngest son, and to give them hope through our stories that God is reaching the Deaf.
You see, their greatest desire is for Jesse to know Jesus in a real and personal way. However, as they did research on Christianity in the Deaf culture, they were disheartened to learn what a low percentage of Deaf follow Jesus.
Then they met us. We could give testimony to God’s living hope that through their actions and through living out their faith, Jesse will grow up knowing Jesus.
Our amazing Father, who understands their parents’ hearts, did not just leave it with our assurances though. Through our contacts, we were able to connect Miriam with another hearing, Christian mother who went through the exact same thing 25 years ago when she learned that her son was Deaf. That Deaf boy grew to be an amazing man of God who pursues Jesus with his whole heart.
We had this connection because this young man, Caleb, serves full-time with us here at David’s Tent. He is boldly proclaiming that Jesus is worthy of worship and all praise everyday in his nation’s capital through ASL worship!
I love having the opportunity to work with our Dad to bring his kingdom here in Washington DC, and I love his divine appointments!