Honoring God through Baptism
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
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.
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.
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
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