A Community Rallies for a Friend
You may not know his name, but chances are if you have attended the 11 am service, you know his face. LJ WIlliams is an American Sign Language Interpreter and one of the vital volunteer team members that make Northland's Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministry possible each week in the sanctuary and online. LJ also leads Northland's Signing Choir, teaches ASL classes that are offered at the church, and volunteers at Buddy Break and FaithAbility. He manages to balance all of this volunteer work with a fulltime job at the Center for Independent Living, and until recently, was doing so while using public transportation to get from home to work to church.
Getting to know LJ means you see his heart for providing access to the Church and to the Gospel for ALL people.
'I started the Northland Signing Choir to provide access to God's Word in an additional space,' says LJ. ' Aside from watching the interpreters during church services, this choir provides an opportunity for Deaf, Hard of Hearing and hearing people to engage together without communication barriers. The members of the choir fall into one of those categories, yet are all able to communicate with each other. They use what they learn to spread the Word of God and love like Jesus loved.
'It's hard to believe LJ has only been attending Northland for three years because his leadership and service impact hundreds in the Northland and Central Florida communities. His efforts are so appreciated, that when his friends, students and home group members found out about an opportunity to purchase a vehicle for LJ with hand controls, they jumped into action. Within a couple weeks they raised $3000, which was generously matched by the Michael SpanoFoundation, a local foundation whose mission is to provide people with disabilities options for independence, choice, and a meaningful life in the community.
“I’m so thankful and surprised by this gift. I can’t believe the impact this has made in my life in giving me independence,” explains LJ. “My Church family means so much – Northland is a big place that feels so small. I have found my place and am so thankful for what God has given me here.”