Ashley is a fascinating soul: lively yet soft spoken, fearless and adventurous. She loves scuba and sky diving. She is teachable, cooperative, easy-going, organized and passionate about teaching the deaf.
As a high schooler, Ashley moved from Houston, Texas, to Scottsdale, Arizona, where her new school offered courses in American Sign Language. She soon discovered she was gifted in this unique language and went on to earn a degree in Deaf Education with a minor in Sign Language Interpreting from Baylor University. In high school and college, God provided Ashley with opportunities to be involved with projects in Matamoros, Juarez, Germany and London. It was on two trips to Kenya, though, that God made his calling on her life clear. She explains, “My heart changed when I went to Africa with a team from Baylor and worked at a deaf school in Kenya. I knew what I wanted to do.”
While she was in Kenya, Ashley worked with Signs of Love, an organization dedicated to teaching language and the gospel to the deaf. During her time there, she developed a great relationship with the leadership of the organization and decided to commit to serving two years in Honduras as part of the 100 People Network.
In April, Ashley stood over a large map on the floor at the 100 People Network Gathering. Other Goers had already begun to place candles on the map to represent the countries where God was calling them to go. Their candles were concentrated in the Middle East, Asia and Africa. She placed her solitary candle in Honduras. Unexpectedly, a woman joined Ashely and prayed for her and for the deaf of Honduras. She specifically prayed that the deaf of Honduras would reach deaf all over the world.
As Ashley looked at all the candles on the map, God showed her that there were deaf in every people group represented by the candles. She envisioned the deaf of Honduras reaching the deaf of the world.
Signs of Love aims to educate and equip the deaf to become leaders in their own communities. Often, deaf people in developing countries cannot read or write and have limited language skills. Most can communicate with only a few people and have no hope of going to school. Communities and families don’t claim deaf children as their own. They shun them and view them as cursed or even demon possessed. Ashley and Signs of Love will work with the families and communities of the deaf. They will teach that the deaf have value and what life is like for those who are unable to hear. They’re hoping that families and communities will accept the deaf and show them love and respect.
As Ashley has prepared to leave for Honduras, God’s providential hand has planned the way in equipping, comforting and strengthened her. But she still has times when her confidence wanes. During a recent Austin Stone First Tuesday prayer time for the 100 Goers, Ashley began to second guess if she was doing the right thing. She confessed, “I go through these times weekly where I wonder what I’m doing.
However, the Lord doesn’t have the attitude, I’ve already told you once. What more do you need? He’s so comforting. He affirms, I’ve got this; I’m here every step of the way. If you need 100 million dreams to confirm this so that you know this is what you’re supposed to be doing, then I’ll do that for you.” Ashley continued, “Once you have a willing heart and you surrender, the Lord picks you up and sweeps you away. You know he’s holding you and he’s in control and continues to provide you with confirmation. He understands we’re human. He is willing to meet us where we are to give us the reassurance that we need.”
“Fear not,” he says, “for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10).