(VP for the Deaf Community)
When she quit her job, she distinctly heard the voice of the Lord tell her to “go to the churches.” Although she had no idea what this meant, she began to do just that and realized that churches all over America needed to be educated about the Deaf Community. They needed to know that 1) Deaf people are missing out on the precious Gospel, and 2) “Deaf people can do anything---but hear” (I. King Jordan, former President of Gallaudet University—the largest liberal arts college for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals).
After establishing TTNI, Val gained a lot of exposure in the Gospel music arena. She provided interpreters for various venues such as the live recording of Gospel Artist, Marvin Sapp in 2007 (Grand Rapids, Michigan). In addition, Val and her team of interpreters also served at one of the Joyfest concerts at Cedarpoint where Kirk Franklin, Crystal Aiken, Marvin Sapp and Tye Tribett were in concert together. Although there were many high points along the way in working with TTNI, the highlight was providing (via fundraisers) an all-expense paid trip for 17 individuals (10 Deaf plus an excellent team of interpreters) to the 2011 Stellar Awards.
In February 2012, Val felt God leading her in a new path……the path to becoming a Sign Language Music Artist full-time…… “Signing with Val” (now “SigningwithVal) was birthed. Some of her goals are:
- to produce ASL DVD’s with teaching, preaching, signing music, and various tutorials for the Deaf Community and hearing population,
- to continue encouraging Gospel artists to connect with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (HH) Communities,
- produce television shows that highlight the gifts, talents and skills of the Deaf and HH Communities, and
- continue to educate churches at another level to become more receptive and accepting of the Deaf and HH Communities, and much more!
Val’s motto is “If I can help somebody as I pass this way, then my living will not be in vain.” Her goal is to CELEBRATE (the Deaf Community) and EDUCATE (the hearing population). She knows that she has been divinely called by God to be the “voice” for Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and to help bridge the communication gap between the Deaf World and the hearing world. She has a true passion and heart for reaching out and working with the Deaf Community as well as to educate the church body-at-large to the plight of the Deaf population. She considers herself a servant of the Deaf Community.Along her journey, Val began to meet many Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals and was also introduced to the language of the Deaf Community, American Sign Language (ASL). Many of the members of the Deaf Community have become long-term friends of Val.
In 1995 she returned to college to get a second degree--a B.A. in Sign Language Studies--from Madonna College (now University) which is located in Livonia, Michigan. Still not satisfied, she took an educational leave from her job at Ford Motor Company and returned to college once more in 2003 to attend the Interpreter Education Program (IEP) at Washtenaw Community College in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The IEP prepared Val to take the test to become a state certified interpreter; a test which she initially passed in September 2003. Val also has a B.A. degree in Business Management and a Masters in Ministry.
Val is an ordained minister that feels called to reach the Deaf Community with the Gospel of Jesus Christ while at the same time, educating our churches about Deaf and Hard of Hearing people. For example, that fact that Deaf people can be teachers, preachers, leaders in the church just like hearing people.
After completing the IEP the Lord prompted her to quit her job at Ford Motor Company (after 15 years of service) and began work full-time in Deaf Ministry. During this year she founded and establish a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization called Touching the Nations Deaf Ministries, Inc. which later became Touching the Nations, Inc. (TTNI). The organization was approved by the IRS in September 2003.
Val and husband, Arthur, married since 1980 reside in Georgia and are the parents of three adult children (Jonathan, Jeremy [wife Kiersten], and Jennifer) who often work with her in ministry—either signing, videotaping or other aspects. Arthur and Val are also the proud grandparents of three beautiful grandchildren (Josiah, Joshua and Karley).
In Exodus 4:11, the Lord asked Moses, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes……the deaf, the seeing, or the blind? Have not I, the LORD?”
In 1986, Val informed her class of teenage Sunday School students that they would SING the song “Rise Again” for the Easter Program that year. The day before the program, the Lord woke her up and said, “Why don’t you do the song in sign language?” Knowing literally no sign language, she called to one of the Christian bookstores to see if they had any books on sign language. Although there were no books, the clerk told her that he knew sign language. That was all she needed! Val went to the store where, in-between customers, the clerk taught her “Rise Again” in sign language. The next day at church, she taught it to the class; they SIGNED the song that afternoon for the Easter Program. This new ministry was truly a divine call from God and was well received by the people in attendance at the program.