Charlie & Debbie Chivers – Founders & Executive Directors
Missionaries Charlie & Debbie Chivers founded Special Touch Ministry in 1982 when they decided to dedicate their lives serving people with disabilities. From the National Office in Wisconsin, together with the board of directors and other executive leadership they direct and oversee the development and implementation of the many programs and services offered by Special Touch Ministry, Inc. Charlie is also responsible for overseeing national disability ministry for the Assemblies of God. They also co-coordinate the annual Wisconsin Summer Get Away.
Joe & Ann Trementozzi – Missionaries
Joe and Ann Trementozzi have been involved in full-time missions work for over 15 years. As fully appointed U.S. Missionaries, they joined Special Touch in 2007. Through the prompting of the Holy Spirit and the birth of their daughter Beth Ann, who has special needs, their calling is to serve people with disabilities and their families with compassion and the love of Christ. In addition to administratively serving in the Summer Get Away, Chapter, and Missionary Associate programs, Joe and Ann also travel to local churches and other venues creating awareness of the need for people with disabilities and their families to become a vital part of church and society.
Contact Info: (Joe)321-480-9806 (Ann)321-543-8729 firstname.lastname@example.org
Thomas & Angelia Carpenter – HisAbility International Missionaries
Rev. Thomas Carpenter has been associated with Special Touch Ministry since 1999. What started out as an invitation to be a chapel speaker, sparked a desire to make everyone aware of the great talents and gifts God has given to extraordinary people who happen to have a disability. An opportunity came about in 2012 for Thomas and Angelia to travel to Africa and Zambia. Their purpose in going was threefold. Number one, they wanted to connect with pastors of churches in South Africa concerning the need of ministry to people with disabilities. This was met with great openness and willingness to take action in their churches and communities. Secondly, they had been invited to speak at conferences and churches. Lastly, they felt compelled to fulfill their late son’s request. When Buck was 6yrs. old and in Kindergarten, his teacher asked him to complete this sentence: I wish every kid…Buck replied, “I wish every kid had toys to play with in Africa.” They were able to hand out toys to a children’s home, and to new friends at a disability home. They are now serving as the International Component of Special Touch Ministry. Carpenter’s Brochure
Nettamara & Ed Doak – Missionary Associates
Nettamara and her family are from Michigan. Growing up she experienced disability through a number of relationships, but God made it even more personal with the birth of her first son, who had autism and medical issues. This lead her to work in the disability field, assisting individuals with blindness in the public school system and at a children’s center. God opened a door for Nettamara to serve those with disabilities at her local church and to work towards a Bachelor’s in Special Education. She has also earned certifications in Braille. In early 2019, she felt the Holy Spirit leading her to join Special Touch Ministry. As well as serving as a Missionary Associate, she also administrates Special Touch Ministry’s Blind Services at the National office. In order to do this, Nettamara and Edward, and their two children have moved to Wisconsin. To sign up for eNewsletter updates from Nettamara and STM Blind Services click here.
Matt & Carolyn Espina – Missionary Associates
Matt was raised in a Christian home and always knew that God had a plan for ministry in his life. When he was 25, he felt God calling him to attend Southeastern University. There he received his degree in church leadership and ministry. When a missionary visiting his church spoke about the Special Touch Florida Summer Get Away, Matt felt that God wanted him to go and volunteer as a caregiver. That week not only touched his heart, it changed his life. After time spent connecting with the Special Touch Leadership, God finally opened the door, in 2012 for Matt to become a Missionary Associate.
Mike & Kim Ferguson – Missionary Associates
Mike and Kim have an enormous passion for serving people impacted by disability. This couple had been introduced to the world of disability when their son, Chris, was diagnosed with Asperger’s. In 2011, they joined as volunteers at Special Touch North East Region Summer Get Away. The need for disability ministry became even more apparent to them when the son of a good friend was in an accident. They realized that the three greatest needs of people with disabilities were support, practical help, and a church family. Mike and Kim have been strong leaders with Special Touch. From running a local Special Touch Chapters to coordinating a Summer Get Away, as Missionary Associates they intend to continue serving, wherever necessary, to meet the ongoing needs of people impacted by disability.
Tom & Cindy Maher – Missionary Associates
Raised in Louisiana, Tom Maher left his traditional Catholic upbringing at 16 and began his “quest for God”, serving in many Louisiana churches. God continued to lead him on a journey that would take him to Nebraska and finally, to Wisconsin. In 2013 Tom realized that he was called toward serving as a Special Touch Missionary Associate. Tom and his wife Cindy have been married over 30 years. They have been a part of developing the current Summer Get Away Tech program, working with ministry leaders to enhance and strengthen this backbone of the Special Touch Summer Get Away program for the future.
Nilda Rivera – Missionary Associate
In the spring of 2012, Nilda became a Licensed Assemblies of God Minister. That fall, she took another huge step by joining the Special Touch Ministry Team on a Missions Trip to the Dominican Republic. The next summer, Nilda became a Missionary Associate. Nilda is an accomplished speaker and singer. She is actively involved with the Special Touch local Chapter ministry and hopes to continue traveling on missions trips and fulfilling her calling as God opens doors.
Lori Bullington – Missionary Associate
Lori was diagnosed with the same condition as her two older brothers, Spinal Muscular Atrophy, when she was a year and a half. She grew up surrounded by others who lived with disabilities and always had a soft spot for those less fortunate. Lori felt God had a call on her life from an early age. After an initial contact with Special Touch Ministry in the early 1980’s, she was reintroduced to the ministry by her fellow Chapter officer, Roger McCall, and attended her first Florida Summer Get Away. Since being involved in the local Special Touch Chapter and in various Summer Get Aways in Florida, North Carolina and Georgia, God has ignited a passion in Lori for reaching the community of individuals with disabilities for Christ. Her passion also encompasses helping the local church grasp the vastness of this mission field and the value of these individuals as members of the community of faith. As a Missionary Associate with Special Touch, Lori seeks to answer the call God placed on her heart.
Duane & Tracie Corll – Missionary Associates
The theme of disability has been woven in Duane and Tracie’s life since childhood. This theme was woven through family members, volunteering as well as working as caregivers, and later on Tracie would become a director of a day habilitation facility. In 2014, God took that weaving and called Duane and Tracie into ministry while attending the Wisconsin Summer Get Away.
Duane and Tracie have a passion for spreading awareness and equipping the church to meet the needs of those disabilities in their communities. Duane and Tracie coordinate a Respite program in their local area in Ohio. They also coordinate the Ohio Summer Get Away as well as write the articles for Special Touch’s Disability Friendly Church Certification.
Todd & Synoilva Halbach – Missionary Associates
Growing up in Wisconsin, Todd accepted Christ as his personal savior through the Promise Keepers Men’s Ministries in Minneapolis, MN in 1995. In 2012, he began missions work, with trips to Mexico, Argentina, and Kenya. Over the years, Todd has also been involved in ministry to children and the elderly as well as serving for 15 years as a caregiver to people with disabilities at the New Hope Center. Joining Special Touch Ministry, Todd has served in multiple Summer Get Away and Chapter locations. Along with his new bride, Sylnoiva, they’d intend to continue helping people experience God’s love through salvation, healing and being a servant.
Rick Heitz – Missionary Associate
Rick Heitz was confronted by huge obstacles when he was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Sjogren’s, with symptoms similar to Multiple Sclerosis. He serves in some volunteer roles helping others who are impacted by disability to overcome their challenges. Rick’s passion is to help the church to become more involved in the lives of people with disabilities.
Lonnie & Janet Nance – Missionary Associates
Several years ago Lonnie & Janet felt God calling them to work with people with disabilities. Following this call led them through the Assembly of God leadership to Charlie Chivers and Special Touch Ministry where they officially came on board as Missionary Associates in 2018. Over 30 years of parenting a child with an intellectual disability has provided them with a large understanding of the uniqueness in serving this people group. They currently reside with their daughter, Beth, in Chadwick, Missouri. By combining passionate hearts and a lot of patience, their desire is to use their skills, talents, and even weaknesses to achieve the ministry goals God has for them.
Charlene & Steven Phipps-Missionary Associates
After a few years of volunteering with the Special Touch Florida Summer Get Away, God revealed to Charlene a way to continue serving, making a difference in the lives of families impacted by disability as a Special Touch Missionary Associate. Charlene lives with her family in North Eastern Florida. She is looking forward to being a part of the Special Touch Ministry Leadership where she can use her skills to not only speak the message of our Lord and Savior into of lives of others but also continue making lifelong friendships.
Bill & Jen Kippin – Missionary Associates
Bill & Jen Kippin began their involvement with Special Touch Ministry in 2011 when Jen volunteered with the North East Region Summer Get Away. An incredible week spent making new friends and sharing her creativity sparked a desire in her to continue serving with Special Touch. In 2017, Bill chose to volunteer at this same location where God developed in him a desire to join in serving people with disabilities. Bill and Jen understand some of the challenges associated with having a physical disability, when an unexpected slip on some ice in 2003 caused severe nerve damage and changed Jen’s mobility. From their location in the North Eastern part of the United States, Bill & Jen have a desire as Missionary Associates to develop Special Touch Ministry’s impact in the local disability community, providing encouragement and support as well as easing and enriching lives.
Linda & Jim Dempsey – Missionary Associates
The Dempseys have been fully-appointed US Missionaries for over 30 years among Native peoples. Following the voice of the Holy Spirit, they left that work. Shortly after, Jim’s health declined and he required 24-hour assistance. As the sole caregiver for Jim, Linda joined Special Touch Ministry in the summer of 2020, seeing the need to reach others in situations similar to her own. Linda feels a compassionate desire to provide the words of the gospel to those in need and uses online technology to communicate messages of hope, encouragement, and new life in Christ. Pray for the Jim and Linda as their ministry grows and expands.
Lana Dawkins – Missionary Associate
Growing up with two disabled brothers, Lana has always felt a desire to help other individuals and families with disabilities. Over the years, this call grew and she began serving as a nurse at various camps for individuals with disabilities. In early 2020, she began the process to join with Special Touch Ministry as a Missionary Associate. Though the pandemic caused delays she persevered becoming a full Missionary Associate working with Special Touch Ministry in 2021. Lana has been educated through Evangel and Global Universities, holds a Master’s Degree in Nursing, BS in Education, as well as ministry credentials through the General Council of the Assemblies of God. From her location in Northern Missouri, she is excited to be working with the Ministry team, sharing her compassion and heart for people as well as using her nursing and other skills to better serve the disability community.