Copyright © BobandJudy 2017
Missionaries Bob and Judy Van Sant
A Brief History:
Bob and Judy were married January 18, 1970. Bob was in the U.S. Navy and for the next 8 years he was stationed in several east coast navy bases. During this time, he and Judy were actively involved in church planting and youth ministries until December 1977. At that time, God placed a burden on their hearts to work full-time with the deaf and they yielded to the call of God. In May of 1978, Bob and Judy (along with three small children) moved to Chattanooga, Tennessee to attend Tennessee Temple University. They immediately began taking Sign Language classes and working with the deaf. In 1982 Bob graduated with a BRE. The family also grew. Now there were five children!
For the next 12 years, Bob and Judy were in full-time service and during this time, Bob served as assistant pastor and Pastor to the Deaf in three churches in America.
When the wall came down in Russia in 1991, Bob was eager to visit one of the former Soviet countries and see what was happening with the deaf. In 1994, that opportunity came. Bob took a mission trip to Ukraine with Pete Rice (P.R.A.Y. Ministries) to Simferopol, Ukraine. Bob went as the sign interpreter for Ronnie Rice (Pete's younger deaf brother). Cathy Rice also went on the trip. During the two weeks that the team was in Ukraine, many deaf were saved. On the plane ride home, the Holy Spirit again began to work on his heart as to who was going to carry on the work that they had begun. Bob called Judy from the airport in New York and told Judy how God was working on his heart. Judy said that she had also felt God leading in that direction while he was gone.
Five days later, they were headed back to Chattanooga, TN to attend candidate school at Baptist International Missions, Inc. (BIMI). After 18 months and 160 churches, the needed support was raised and Bob, Judy and their two youngest children were headed to Ukraine to reach deaf souls for Christ. One of the biggest blessings was that they were able to keep in contact with one of the interpreters from the team who kept in contact with some of the deaf in Simferopol. When Bob and Judy stepped off the train in Simferopol, Ukraine, 12 deaf people were standing on the platform - they had been waiting for almost two years for a church to attend.
I grew up on a farm in Iowa and I never remember my parents taking me to church. At age 17, a girl friend asked me to be baptized so that I would go to heaven. I met with her pastor but was not interested in joining any church. However, he did read to me the Roman's Road and gave me a book on the life story of Bobbie Richardson. I did read the book. Later that year, I was in a situation where God used those verses that I had read to show me my need of salvation. I remembered a picture on the wall behind the pastor's desk. It was a picture of Jesus standing behind a young man at the helm of a boat in a raging storm. I asked Jesus to save me and be the captain of my life. One year later I joined the Navy. Later God led me to a Christian Serviceman Center in Memphis where I met Judy. She invited me to her church where her father not only baptized me but also discipled me. I spent 10 years in the Navy before going to Bible college. After graduating from TTU the Lord allowed me to be an associate pastor, school teacher and deaf pastor for the next 12 years. My time on the mission field has been the most exciting and rewarding time of my life. Praise the Lord!
I was raised in a Christian home. Because my father was a Baptist preacher, I went to church every time the doors were opened. At a young age, I walked to the front of the church and copied my friend in the sinner's prayer. But nothing was changed on the inside. I quickly learned how to walk the walk and talk the talk. When I attended teen camp at age 14, the doubts began coming. I saw other teens who had a genuine salvation experience and realized that I did not. Finally at the age of 17, I yielded to the work of the Holy Spirit. Our church had a visiting preacher (Bro. Jim Alley) and he brought his wife with him. One night, Bro. Jim preached on lost church members. I was so miserable throughout the service. At the start of the invitation, I could hardly walk to the front of the auditorium to play the organ. After a couple of stanzas, I stopped playing the organ and went to the altar to pray. Mrs. Alley knelt beside me. At that time I realized that I was a sinner and asked Jesus Christ to save me. I praise the Lord for how He has led in my life.