Vanessa VanCleave is an intercessory missionary, Bible teacher, and blogger whose mission is to inspire, encourage, and motivate others to connect with God and fulfill their unique purpose. She holds a bachelor’s degree in English/writing from East Central University in Ada, OK and a master’s degree in Education Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She received ministry training at the Berean School of the Bible, as well as Victory Bible Institute School of Worship. Vanessa is also a graduate of Christian Leaders Authors and Speakers Services (CLASS). Her articles have appeared in Today’s Christian Woman and Guideposts magazines. Often, you can find her reading, playing piano, or most recently, trying to learn how to play the ukulele. She is the author of Hearing AIDS: How a Deaf Child Taught Me to Hear from God. She lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Jeff and daughter Savannah.
Before 8-year-old Maegan died with AIDS, she hid gift-wrapped trinkets and notes throughout the house for her parents to find after she went to heaven. One of the gifts was a pin that said simply “Hope.” Maegan’s story is precisely that: a message of hope that has touched the lives of millions around the world.
Maegan’s birth mother died with AIDS when Maegan was 15 months old; thus, Maegan was born with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Less than a year after her mother’s death, Maegan was struck with spinal meningitis and became deaf. Jeff, her father, was heartbroken and overwhelmed.
In 1991, Vanessa VanCleave began dating Jeff and working at his restaurant in Eufaula, Oklahoma. Time with Jeff meant time with Maegan—a frustrated and confused child, who would point and scream because she could not communicate even her most basic needs. Vanessa recognized Maegan’s desperate desire for communication. She borrowed a Sesame Street Sign Language book from the library and began to teach her, but it was Maegan who would ultimately become the teacher and Vanessa, the student.
Maegan spoke often about heaven long before she became ill. She knew her purpose and fulfilled her mission before she went into her Father’s arms on June 25, 1997. It was one of many life lessons she would teach her parents during her short time on earth.
Hearing AIDS: How a Deaf Child Taught Me to Hear from God will inspire and challenge readers to examine their own purpose and mission while learning the true definition of hope and unconditional love.