Early Christian Deaf
History & Heritage
July 1950 – First Billy Graham Interpreting Service for Deaf
Another first in Portland Oregon, Billy Graham Crusade – Dr. Frank Phillips, a veterinarian, prepared the way for the Crusade. He saw to it that people with special needs were thoughtfully considered. He made arrangements for a local pastor, Willis Ethridge, to sign for the Deaf; this was a first for us. The newspapers reported that three deaf participants used their fingertips to pass the songs and sermons along to some blind and Deaf folks by spelling and signing out words on their palms and cheeks, much as Anne Sullivan had done for Helen Keller as a child. It became our practice in each service to arrange special sections for the handicapped, the blind, the deaf, and those in wheelchairs. – Just As I Am – Billy Graham.
1953 – The First “Free” Deaf Camp
Bill Rice Ranch in Mufreesboro, Tennessee – Dr. Bill and Cathy Rice as an evangelist and parents of a deaf child, Betty (Cabbage), saw the need of also reaching the Deaf for Christ. Thus the Bill Rice Ranch was born. One day, Dr. Bill Rice said, “Cathy, who is going to win the deaf to Christ?” Cathy smiled and said, “Don’t you know? You are, and I am going to help you!” Dr. Bill said, “I can’t do it; I am a nobody. There is no one who would support me. How can I start a work for the deaf?” Cathy smiled and said, “I have often heard you say that if God lays a burden on your heart, then He expects you to do it.” They prayed and the Bill Rice Ranch was established by a big revival campaign in Murfreesboro, Tennessee in 1950. The first deaf week of camp was in 1953 with twelve deaf attending. – Story of Bill Rice Ranch