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(Posted August 3rd 2015 @ 5:00 PM by: Melody Reever)
Twenty-nine years ago, Ralph and Dianne adopted a seven-year-old child named Rob. Rob has seizures, an intellectual disability, and is deaf due to having spinal meningitis as a baby. When he was young, Diane sent him to Sunday school, requesting that he be included. She will never forget what they said when they brought him back to her. “He is never going to be able to fit in.” Due to his behavior she was told he could not attend class.
For years Dianne prayed for God to send an interpreter to their very small church. One day the answer finally came, although not the one she was looking for. God spoke to her and said, “You do it.” She immediately began holding weekly American Sign Language (ASL) classes out of her home during the school year for those from the church who were interested.
Through the years many of the people from her church have learned sign language. The annual curriculum is set up so the students learn 2000 words. Currently there is a team of youth who interpret the service and there are always people available to interpret any classes Rob attends. An added blessing is that a couple of the interpreters have gone to college and are working in ministry to deaf people across the country. Those who have attended the ASL class but are not involved in interpreting are able to talk to Rob in sign language.
Rob is now thirty-six years old. He loves going to church and communicating with people. At times, due to his intellectual disability, his responses are not what some might expect. Texting has opened up a whole new world for Rob, and he has been able to make friends and communicate with them during the week.
Dianne Hoff attends River of Life Church in Grand Rapids, MN, with her husband, Ralph, and her son, Robert.