After the news of Deaf Evangelist Ronnie Rice’s graduation to Heaven, social media was filled with tributes to this unique man. People posted, “Ronnie Rice preached in my church,” “Ronnie Rice led me to the Lord,” “Ronnie Rice was a good example,” “I remember when Ronnie Rice preached about…,” “I remember Ronnie Rice told the story about…,” “I remember the time Ronnie Rice…,” and more.
Personally, I remember Ronnie crawling under chairs as he preached to hundreds of Deaf teens at the Bill Rice Ranch. I remember his story about a free 4-wheeler with a satellite dish. “The government is giving it away free,” he said. “You just need to go get it.” He repeated the story all week at camp. Finally, he revealed that he was talking about the Lunar Rover – on the moon! I remember Ronnie studying his Bible, Bible story books, and dictionaries as he prepared to preach. He talked with other preachers to make sure he was preaching Bible stories and words correctly. I loved his stories, his unique humor, and his direct way of preaching. There will never be anyone exactly like Ronnie Rice. He was one of a kind!
But what IF Ronnie Rice had never lived? What IF Dr. Bill and Cathy Rice did not have a Deaf daughter, Betty? What IF they had not started the Bill Rice Ranch to teach the Deaf about Christ? What IF the Christian principal of the Tennessee School for the Deaf did not contact the Bill Rice Ranch to ask if a troubled young boy, Ronnie Rice, could work there for the summer? What IF no one told Ronnie Rice that Jesus Christ died for his sin? What IF Ronnie did not surrender his life to the Lord? What IF the Rices did not accept Ronnie into their family? What IF Ronnie did not go to Tennessee Temple Bible School? What IF there were no teachers to train Ronnie? What IF pastors would not permit Ronnie, a qualified Deaf preacher, into their pulpits? There are many “What IF” questions.
But these things did happen. People did care. Individuals sacrificed their comfort or personal desires. Hundreds of people invested in a Deaf boy, teenager, man, and preacher, who became a well-respected servant of God to take the Gospel to the “Deaf World.”
Previous generations were blessed to have Ronnie Rice and other Deaf preachers, who surrendered, sacrificed, and served the Lord. We know the past “What IFs” actually happened. But now think about this present “Deaf World.” Consider future generations. Who will now sacrifice and tell the Deaf more about Jesus?
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none,” (Ezekiel 22:30). This is a sad verse. No one was willing. No one would work. No one.
The Deaf World has changed much over the last 50 years. Deaf people now have better communication, available interpreters, and improved acceptance. Social media, video phones, and online access opens many opportunities. Yet, the needs of all people are still the same. The heart need is more important than the ear need. The greatest need of Deaf people is to “hear” the Gospel.
Today, the “What IF” questions are different. What IF a young Deaf person today would receive Jesus Christ as Savior? What IF that person would surrender his life to the Lord, to serve Him? What IF he would keep himself from evil and follow good and right?
What IF Deaf men and women would decide to fully follow the Lord with their lives? What IF they would begin to study the Bible, learn good doctrine, and begin to teach others? What IF Deaf adults would stand up for right?
What IF a hearing person would surrender to God’s call to reach Deaf people for Christ? What IF someone would be willing to enter the Deaf culture and teach Deaf people in their own signed language?
What IF you gave your life to God? What IF you would say, “Lord, I may not be great, but I am willing to serve YOU wherever you put me.” What IF you opened your life to Deaf young people? What IF you taught them the things you have learned from God? What IF God used you to help raise up another person to be like Ronnie Rice?
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then said I, Here am I; send me.” – Isaiah 6:8
Pray: “Lord, here I am. Use me!” [ ] YES!
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