CRESTVIEW — Emmanuel Baptist Church's new programs ensure hearing impaired and deaf members won't be lost in the flock.

Joe and Daphne Cox, along with their daughter, Charity, are helping the East James Lee Boulevard church's deaf members learn and share in the Lord. They're working with minister Justin Wyatt to offer American Sign Language service interpretations and Bible study.

"He and his wife have been doing interpretation for some time now," Wyatt said.

Before moving to Crestview, Joe and Daphne Cox shared the Gospel for 30 years with hearing-impaired residents in Fort Walton Beach.

“It was very hard to leave, but we really felt that God was calling us, because there was no ministry here in Crestview,” Daphne said.

The Coxes said they have worked tirelessly to transition between ministries, and are ready to dedicate their efforts full-time to the Crestview community.

The church has a 9:30 a.m. Bible study each Sunday and an 11 a.m. service with ASL interpretation.

In addition to reaching out to the deaf community, Emmanuel Baptist church is starting a special-needs program for youths.

Now on Sundays, parents of special-needs children can leave their kids in the care of trained individuals during the 11 a.m. service. 

There, the children will receive tools needed to feel safe as they learn in the house of God, the couple said. Such tools include a sensory wall in addition to an igloo composed of milk jugs, which children can escape to when they feel overwhelmed or over-stimulated.

So, how have the new programs been progressing?

“It’s been slow, but we can see that God is working,” Joe said.

Emmanuel Baptist Church is located at 3252 E. James Lee Blvd., Crestview. Call 682-9416 for more details about its special-needs programs.

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Editor's Note: A previous version of this article included a quote that stated Joe Cox was a veteran. The quote was correctly attributed but the information in the quote was incorrect. He was not a veteran.