Many of us participate in musical worship every Sunday morning, tapping, singing, reaching up to our Lord while the singers or band belt out inspiring music that glorifies Him (which begs the question, How Great Is Our God?.... ;]). Sometimes, the people we see with their hands in motion aren't just reaching for Jesus: they are reaching out to our deaf brethren. Enter Donna, Lisa and Jessica, members of Discover Life Church in Melbourne. Together, they (are) Rock the Silence, ministering worship music, with full expression in sign language, to the audience (hearing and deaf alike).
The ministry, founded in 2000, is composed of the three performers, along with Vice President Bob Leonard and their stage manager, Bob's wife Fran. Donna is the interpreter for the deaf. When they are in public venues where deaf may be present, Donna will interpet everything spoken during the concert. She puts the signs to all the songs they sign in concert, and also serves as the treasurer and secretary for the business end of the ministry. Lisa runs the sound and burns the set list CD's. She helps Donna with sign choices for songs, but leaves the tough signing to Donna! Lisa serves as the president of Rock the Silence and casts a lot of vision and ideas out for the others to pray about, as well as helping with the office work. Jessica adds dance to the performance, in addition to running Facebook for Rock the Silence. She keeps everyone posted on what the ministry is doing next, where they will be, and responds to people's comments. She also joins in songs with Donna and Lisa, where she provides signing and her graceful dance. Additionally, Donna and Lisa co-teach basic sign language classes that are open to the community.
Donna and Lisa were already ministering in Rock the Silence before they started attending Discover Life, and that is where they found Jessica after seeing her sign a beautiful Christmas dance with her niece. They knew the Lord was telling them to bring Jessica aboard. All three have served in different areas in their local church: dance, drama, signing songs, ushering, prayer team and helping in various areas over the years. Because Rock the Silence ministers out in the community and in churches of all denominations, does an annual outreach to the homeless and hands out hats, gloves, waters, hand warmers and blankets, on cold days to those on the streets, it is always good to be able to just sit back in their home church and get filled up again with the Word of God and get spiritually ready to hit the streets again with the Gospel message.
Together all three put their hearts and heads together to make up the set list of songs for each concert, as the Lord leads them. This causes each set list to be personalized for each crowd they appear in front of. All three speak in between songs in concert, always giving God glory, and ministering His Love and Salvation through His Son Jesus!
Throughout the year, song selections focus on God's Love and Salvation through His Son Jesus. They do a variety of songs mixing hymns and contemporary Christian music. They pick songs from the heart and that minister to them, enabling them to minister the song with full expression in sign language to the audience. The set list consists of patriotic songs for the 4th of July, and Christmas songs for the month of December.
Putting signs to music can be a challenge. The English language isn't an easy language and music has many different metaphors. There isn't a sign for every English word. Sign language is a language of its own with grammar, so it is like translating any foreign language. Sign language is also very picturesque and shows the concept of what is being said, not just the words themselves. For this reason, not every song would make much sense in sign, or would be visually appealing. "We choose songs that can be signed and understood by the Deaf if they are at a concert. We know 'we can do all things through Christ who strengthens us!'" With the Lord's help, each concert is full of His presence and a beautiful understanding of the songs by both hearing and deaf alike.
For more information on this wonderful ministry, visit them at http://rockthesilence.net. They can also be reached by phone at 321- 446-1802