Preteen -

12-year-old learns American Sign Language to minister to child with special needs —

By Becca Haines

Not everybody would learn another language to minister to just one child, but Macey Stiles did just that … and she’s only 12 years old.

This young Kingdom worker and former SuperStart attendee was serving at her church’s VBS this summer at Redemption Christian Church in Jasper, Indiana, when she was asked to help Kate Fischer – a 5-year-old girl with special needs. The leaders knew this task would require someone with a sweet temperament because Fischer lives with a trache in her throat and communicates by sign language – a skillset not many in the church possess. Stiles said she knew a few words in ALS, but immediately felt remorse when Fischer eagerly tried to communicate beyond Stiles’ knowledge of the language.


“I felt so bad because she doesn’t get to communicate with that many people,” Stiles said. “I went home that night and tried to learn more and got really frustrated that I wasn’t learning it fast enough.”


All the while, her dad – Ryan Stiles, the campus minister at Redemption – observed his daughter’s struggle and broken heart for Fischer.


“The cool thing is she didn’t give up,” he said. “The difference was amazing at the end of the week.”


By the end of the VBS week, Stiles had taught herself nearly 100 words from online tutorials. She said the ability to tell Fischer things – such as when it was snack time or playtime – allowed her to show God’s love and willingness to reach out to everyone.


Fischer still lights up when she sees Stiles at church these days.


“I learned once you get to know people it gets easier to love them how God loves them,” Stiles said. “You should go out of your way to help people because it means so much more.”


CIY believes students are made for Kingdom work, and age-intentional programs like SuperStart motivate students to live a life of contrast to the world – in love and in pursuit of Jesus Christ. Sign up preteen youth groups for this year’s SuperStart here.