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Deaf resident focused on spreading the gospel

Published: Friday, Oct. 19, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT
Caption
(Chronicle file photo)
David Mills (left) of Sycamore watches a sign interpreter while the Rev. Robert Weinhold of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. John speaks in this photo from 2011. Mills aims to inspire deaf people who face the same struggles and hopes to spread his message overseas as he prepares to take a missionary trip to the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Jamaica.

SYCAMORE – David Mills cannot hear the word of God, but that does not stop him from embracing it and spreading it to as many people as he can.

Mills, a member of The Evangelical Lutheran Church of St. John in Sycamore, is deaf and knows the frustrations and doubts many people with his disability experience as he once did not believe in God and was angry and frustrated with his condition.

But now Mills aims to inspire deaf people who struggle with the same questions and hopes to spread his message overseas as he prepares to take a missionary trip to the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Jamaica along with the Wisconsin-based Our Savior Lutheran Church for the Deaf.

“For a long time I didn’t believe in God and I was angry,” Mills said through an interpreter. “I want to do what I can to help those people and inspire that community and teach God’s word.”

Mills will depart for Jamaica Saturday and lend his expert carpentry skills to the mission trip, which includes building and renovating facilities at some of the center’s three island campuses on Knockpatrick, Kingston and Montego Bay.

The center is a ministry that brings the gospel to the deaf of Jamaica, especially those in rural areas with virtually no resources. Marc White, president of the organization, said the center relies on volunteers and missionaries to maintain and build the three campuses, which also serve as residential space for the students.

“We need an awful lot of support and there is always something that needs to be built or fixed,” White said. “And any time that a (missionary) team can sign or has deaf participants, it really takes the experience to another level.”

It is not the first time Mills has taken a trip to help build physical and spiritual structures for people in need. Mills also took a trip to Alabama last summer with a group of members from St. John after the area was ravaged by tornadoes.

He said he realized then the affect he can have on others and is now inspired to visit other places such as Jamaica and hopefully India and Haiti in the future.

“I am a deaf person so (people) look at me differently, but I show them what a deaf person can do,” Mills said. “I can be a role model.”

None of Mills’ recent work would be possible without the support of St. John, he said. The congregation raised roughly $1,100 for Mills’ Jamaica trip in the span of two weeks during open offerings.

Pastor Robert Weinhold said Mills has been a blessing to the congregation since he came to the church about three years ago and members have embraced him and others with disabilities over the years.

Weinhold said the church even started services with sign language and hopes to bring in someone who can sign the message at least twice a month in the future.

“David is growing tremendously and God is doing great things in David and in our congregation,” Weinhold said. “It’s good for everyone.”

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