by David M. Trexler
After two fruitful years of Bible study and visitation, Jim and Wendy House were baptized at Silver Spring SDA Church on March 13, 2004. The baptismal service was memorable and historic because at that time the hearing congregation had a special service called All Nations’ Day. In the church sanctuary hung flags from different countries around the world.
Jim House was born of Adventist parents in Portland, Oregon and attended an oral deaf school, then an Adventist church school. He graduated from a public high school and took some classes at a community college before he went to Gallaudet University and graduated in 1983. Even though he grew up in an Adventist home, Jim didn’t understand how to have a genuine relationship with Jesus Christ. He was attracted to the world and fell in love with the world. Though he enjoyed associating with Adventist Deaf people, he didn’t live as one. Jim was a prodigal son for many years until he met his wife, Wendy Hill over 9 years ago.
Wendy was born and raised in Houston, Texas and also went to an oral deaf school as well as a Christian school. She accepted Jesus Christ as her personal Savior when she was 17 years old, but somehow, no one followed through with Bible studies and she never had a chance to be baptized. She went to Gallaudet University and graduated in 1990. Later she met Jim House and they fell in love and married in the Silver Spring SDA church in December 1995 with Pastor Raj Witteborg officiating.
At that time, Jim was not a practicing Adventist and Wendy was a born again Christian. Wendy had a great impact on Jim’s life leading him back to Jesus and the church. For a long time Jim was out of touch with the Deaf SDA because of his heavy involvement with his job and Deaf community activities. Pastor David M. Trexler moved into the area three years ago and attempted to visit the lost Deaf sheep and former members, hoping to bring them back to the church. Jim was responsive to David’s visitation. Wendy was also interested in learning more about our church and both of them invited David for Bible studies.
Wendy and Jim then expressed their desire to be baptized, but Jim had a serious struggle with cigarette smoking. He had smoked for many years and he attempted to quit several times but always failed. In desperation, Jim asked for an anointing service with Pastor Trexler and Pastor Fred Griffith. An anointing service was scheduled during the Deaf Eastern Autumn Revival (DEAR), in October 2003. After the anointing service, Jim gradually lost his taste for smoking. Through the power of God, he hasn’t smoked for the past five months. Jim had truly re-consecrated his life to God who joyfully helped him to overcome his bad habit.
The Silver Spring SDA church has members representing diverse cultures from different countries. Interestingly, the Deaf community is a culture based on American Sign Language, and it was fitting for the Deaf members from Silver Spring and Vienna churches to join the hearing congregation during the baptism. Jim and Wendy gave moving testimonies of how God had led them to Jesus Christ and His church while Belinda Simmons interpreted for the hearing audiences. The testimonies touched everyone’s heart. Jim and Wendy were then baptized into the watery grave that washed away their past sins and they rose into to new life in Christ. God was actually praised by this moving experience for what He had marvelously changed their lives. The power of God had been shown to Jim and Wendy in their lives and is available to anyone who wishes to repent and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
Wendy’s Testimony by Wendy House
In July 1981 during Billy Graham’s Crusade in Houston, Texas back, at age of 17, I sat and listened to his sermon about Jesus Christ. What struck me very hard were the words he shouted out loud, “Jesus Christ LOVES YOU, no matter what you did in your life”.
I remembered back in 1979 at the age of 14, after my mother’s untimely death, I was very angry at God. I shouted at the top of my lungs looking up at the ceiling in front of my grandmother and other family members “GOD, I HATE YOU, HATE YOU for taking away my mother”. My grandmother and other family members kneeled down and prayed and asked God to forgive me. At that time, I was so upset and mad at Him because I didn’t have a chance to save my mother, or even say “Good Bye”, or “I Love You”. Even while I was in high school, I would beg the Lord and tried to “bribe” Him to bring my mother back to life and to let me die instead. But to no avail.
Until I sat and listened to Billy Graham’s messages, “Jesus Christ LOVES YOU” and it sure did struck a chord in me. Then it dawned on me that even my life too was precious in His eyes. Right then and there, I confessed my sins, gave my heart to Jesus Christ and I accepted Him as my personal Savior because I learned that Jesus LOVES me and died for all of our sins. My best friends in high school have prayed for me for several years that I would I accept Jesus. However, since then, no one from the First Baptist church in Houston, or my best friends followed up with me for Bible study or to be baptized. I went with my friends to church services and listened to sermons from our pastors and elders. We studied Bible very little and I never knew baptism was important.
After graduating from high school, I went to Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. I graduated in 1990 and found a job with the State of Maryland. During those years, I have been soul-searching for the truth and looking for the right place to fellowship with brothers and sisters in Christ. I also was searching for the right person in my life as well. I decided to surrender my search to the Lord who knows me better than I know myself.
One day, I met Jim through a friend at a homecoming game at Gallaudet. After getting to know each other, Jim shared with me his past experience with Jesus Christ and told me that his faith was SDA. SDA? Seventh Day Adventist? I replied with confusion as I had never heard of it before. He explained that its members believe in the seventh day Sabbath and look forward to Jesus’ second coming. At first, I was resistant until he invited me to the Silver Spring, SDA for the deaf and hard of hearing as they meet downstairs in the Annex. Raj Witteborg was the pastor at that time. After coming here few times, I found the church and the members to be friendly and full of warmth. We decided to get married at this church in 1995. Several years later, David Trexler, the current pastor, met with me and Jim for intensive Bible study at least one or two times per week. That’s when I learned from the Bible, for those who believe and accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior should also be baptized. Today, I too want to become baptized to show my love for Jesus Christ as my personal Savior and Lord.
Jim’s Testimony by Jim House
It is good to see so many flags here on All-Nation's Sabbath. This reminds me of Jesus' command before He went up into heaven, "Go and preach the Gospel into ALL nations, ALL people, ALL languages and baptize them." The word ALL means everyone, including deaf and hard of hearing people in different countries. If you do not know how to communicate with them, don’t know signs, there are videos with the technology to help spread God’s word and it is called captioning.
I grew up in an Adventist home in Portland, Oregon. My grandfather was a temperance man who with a mannequin called “Smoking Sam” gave sermons to young people about the dangers of smoking and drinking. I was baptized twice before I finished high school even though I did not fully understand the power of God in my life. I moved east and went to Gallaudet, graduated, found a job and got married. I also lost my job and got divorced mainly because God was not a part of my life. I was planning to pull up my stakes and move back to Portland, but then I met Wendy. I feel that God was using Wendy to bring me back to Him. It turned out that she was interested in seeking the truth and I shared my background with her. We got married here in Silver Spring SDA church with Elder Raj Witteborg. When Raj left, David Trexler and his wife moved here and became pastor of the church.
In the summer of 2001, Wendy and I were flying to South Dakota for a conference. We bumped into the Trexler’s at the airport and discovered we were boarding the same plane. The Trexlers were going to Camp Milo, a deaf campmeeting in Southern Oregon. David’s wife, Frances told Wendy that she met there when I was 19 years old. Shortly after that trip, Wendy and I started having Bible studies with the Trexlers.
At about the same time, I began to do some projects with the Adventist Deaf Ministries (ADM). These projects along with the Bible studies became a refresher course as I worked to rewrite some material into easy English – modernizing Bible verses and introducing recent concepts into Bible lessons. I began to remember the things I learned while I was young. I felt God was using Wendy and ADM to bring me back.
While I was at Gallaudet, I started smoking. Eventually I smoked about a pack a day. Back when I began, a cigarette pack only costs 35 cents! Now they cost ten times as much or more! Back then, I could smoke pretty much anywhere, even in classrooms at Gallaudet. Today, laws prohibit smoking pretty much anywhere except outside. Many of my smoking buddies have moved away and soon it became boring to smoke alone. Some of my friends quit and I asked for their secret. I started to try cold turkey on my own. Bought a new pack the next day! Tried gum - very hard to chew and the individual packets were impossible to open without a Swiss Army knife. Then I tried the patch - it caused bad dreams and I felt like I was sleeping on roller coaster. I was getting desperate. So, finally, five months ago at the Deaf Eastern Autumn Retreat, I had an anointing service by Pastor Trexler and Pastor Fred Griffith from California. At that time I was trying to quit and using a nicotine inhaler that I got from my doctor. Eventually I stopped using the inhaler and have been nicotine-free ever since.
I am happy to join Wendy in her first baptism and to rededicate my life to Jesus and walk with Him.
A Letter from Jim and Wendy House
Wendy and I would like to thank you all for coming to our baptism. Every one of you and others had a part in bringing us closer to the truth. It was a spiritual highlight for both of us. We are happy to be part of God's big family with you.
Thank you once again.
Love in Christ, Jim and Wendy House