Bob and Judy Van Sant
BIMI Missionary Pastor and Church Planter
Judy and I were married on January 18, 1970 and for the next eight years, I served in the U.S. Navy. During this time, we were both actively involved in church planting and youth ministries. In December 1977, God placed a burden on our hearts to work full-time with the deaf. In May of 1978, we moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee with our three children to attend Tennessee Temple University. Immediately, we began taking Sign Language classes and made many deaf friends. In 1982, I graduated with a BRE and our family had grown to five children.
For the next 12 years, our family was in full-time service. I served as assistant pastor and Pastor to the Deaf in Oklahoma City, OK; Indianapolis, IN; and Davenport, IA. From 1988 through 1994, I was on staff at Quint City Baptist Church in Davenport. Our sending/home church is Bible Baptist Church in Ft. Mill, SC.
When the wall came down in Russia in 1991, I had a strong desire to visit one of the former Soviet countries and see what was happening with the deaf. In 1994, that opportunity came. I was able to go on a mission trip to Simferopol, Ukraine with Pete Rice (P.R.A.Y. Inc.). Ronnie Rice invited me to be his interpreter and his mother, Cathy Rice, also went on this trip. During the two weeks that the team was in Ukraine, many people (both hearing and deaf) were saved. On the plane ride back to the states, the Holy Spirit was again working on my heart as to who was going to carry the gospel to the deaf in Ukraine. They had no church to attend. I called Judy from the airport in New York and told her how God was working on my heart. Judy told me that she too had felt God leading in that direction while I was gone.
Five days later, we were headed back again to Chattanooga, TN – this time to attend candidate school at Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI). After 18 months on furlough and visiting 160 churches, the needed support was raised and we, with our two youngest children, were on our way to Ukraine to reach deaf souls for Christ. One of the biggest blessings was that they were able to keep in contact with one of the interpreters from the team who kept in contact with some of the deaf in Simferopol. When we stepped off the train in Simferopol, Ukraine, 12 deaf people were standing on the platform - they had been waiting and praying for almost two years for a church to attend.
Judy and I have given our lives for the purpose of reaching both the deaf and the hearing with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Our goal is to obey the Great Commission and glorify God through our lives.