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Louisiana Camp Reaching Deaf Culture

A Louisiana camp for the deaf has been spreading the gospel and impacting lives for over four decades.

Encountering the gospel can be a struggle for deaf children. Many do not attend church, and many others who do have limited access to interpreters.

For more than four decades, those at Louisiana Deaf Camp have worked to remove these barriers by providing a free, five-day Bible camp to youth ages nine through high school graduation, many of whom attend the Louisiana School for the Deaf.

Run largely by volunteers at an Assemblies of God campground in Woodworth, this unique program shares the gospel and equips children for ministry through an atmosphere filled with sign language and visuals.

"It's all about communication," says Ruth DeWitt, camp director and U.S. Missions appointed missionary to Deaf Culture. "Everything is geared to them so that they can understand the Word of God."

AG U.S. missionaries Dorothy Scott and Joanne Lambert began the camp in 1973. DeWitt and her husband, Ron, both also U.S. missionaries to the deaf, moved to Baton Rouge in 1993 to plant Liberty Deaf Assembly of God Church.

When Lambert died in 2006, Scott asked Ron to take on the responsibilities of camp director. In January 2014, Ron died of cancer, and Ruth agreed to direct the camp. A deaf member of Liberty AG's congregation, Regayna Rester, serves as assistant director.

A day at camp involves Bible classes, games, ministry workshops, and nightly services. Christian counselors remain alongside campers all day, signing to them and encouraging them.

Every year, DeWitt says, she is excited to see many deaf children accept Jesus as Savior. Last year, 19 of the 58 youth in attendance accepted Christ, and 26 rededicated their lives.  

But the effects don't stop when camp ends, she says.

"Every year we have testimonies of parents and siblings that are saved because their deaf child returned from camp and shared the gospel with them," she says.

Kevin Babin, AG Deaf Culture Ministries representative, volunteered at Louisiana Deaf Camp for two decades. Now, 20 years later, he still remembers the difference that it makes in the lives of deaf children.

"Because it's in sign language, there's a freedom and a comfort in communication," he says. "To see the Holy Spirit work in a kid's life during that week is beyond words."

Babin and DeWitt both say they know many of the volunteers and leaders at the camp whose lives were changed at the same camp years ago and now pastor deaf churches or conduct deaf ministry in other parts of the country.

DeWitt says alumni oversee most of the camp's functions now. She says she hopes to see it run completely by deaf people in the future.

In August, a special service will honor Scott and recognize the support of many churches and individuals.


Ian Richardson

Ian Richardson is a 2014 graduate of Evangel University and former intern with the Pentecostal Evangel. He is originally from Afton, Iowa, where he grew up as the son of an Assemblies of God pastor.