Training Leaders – Bob and Becky Patten [Interview]

In the second part of my conversation with Bob and Becky Patten, veteran missionaries to the Deaf in Chile, we discuss their ongoing effort to train leaders and establish Deaf ministries in churches throughout the city of Santiago. (Don’t miss Part One – The Seeds that Fall!)

The Pattens´ Display features a verse about training leaders.

The Pattens model their ministry after II Timothy 2:2 – investing in faithful leaders.

Becky: We are seeing, and even this is slow, but we are feeling now toward the end of our ministry that the most effective thing we can do is invest ourselves in the lives of others who can reach the Deaf that we won’t have the chance to reach. The Lord has brought us some wonderfully talented and dedicated young people to try to invest in, and that has been really exciting.

The most effective thing we can do is invest ourselves in the lives of others who can reach the Deaf.

Joe: That’s a blessing. Tell me more about that. Where do you find people who could potentially become leaders in Deaf ministry, and how do you know that this is someone who is worth investing in?

Bob: We have gone to pastors of established churches in the city of Santiago, and some we have been referred to by our pastor, and we present what our ministry is, our service to the Lord in that manner, of training people in Sign Language and Deaf culture and signed music – the different aspects of Deaf ministry. Usually it is about a six-month course, and we meet once a week. Classes usually start out large and boil down to who the Lord wants us to work with.

Classes usually start out large and boil down to who the Lord wants us to work with.

Then once we finish a class we have another phase of it that goes a little deeper into culture and ministry. Through that we start encouraging these churches. And we’re also starting to develop an outreach where we can work within several of the churches – work together to reach the Deaf in this area, work together with these six or eight different churches in each area, building experience and being known in the community. That’s what we’re working on.

Joe: Have you had some success with that?

Bob: It’s still developing.

Becky: Really, they are all very small. There are two or three Deaf in an area.

Joe: Well, in reality, most Deaf ministries really are very small. It is a rare deaf ministry that has more than five or ten people. Most Deaf ministries that I have visited in the States have three or four Deaf people, and every once in a while you will come across one that really took off. But the thing is, those Deaf people may have not ever heard the Gospel. And that’s why many of us who are in Deaf ministry, that’s what keeps us in Deaf ministry and that’s what got us in Deaf ministry in the first place.

There might not be that many of them in proportion to the hearing population, but maybe they would never have heard the Gospel if not for that decision to reach out to them or to train that one person in that church to reach them.

Bob: It’s an unreached language group.

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