Missionaries, new affinity group honored at Southern Baptist Conference of Deaf


By Emilee Brandon

RIDGECREST, N.C. (BP)–A sometimes forgotten people group has stepped into the spotlight as one of IMB’s (International Mission Board’s) affinity groups. The Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf celebrated this milestone, along with its first commissioning service honoring eight IMB missionaries, July 26 during its annual meeting at LifeWay Ridgecrest Conference Center in North Carolina.

Seven of the missionaries were recommissioned to another term of service; the eighth is going to the mission field after short-term volunteer service.

The missionaries are among more than 5,600 other Southern Baptist personnel worldwide, including 32 missionaries who use sign languages from various countries to share the Gospel with Deaf peoples. Of the 32, eight are Deaf.

The Deaf are one of nine affinity groups — large groups of related peoples that share similar origins, languages and cultures — outlined in IMB’s reorganization.

Matthew and Virginia Stuart,* veteran missionaries and Deaf affinity group leaders, want to recruit Deaf to serve in ministry, empower them to reach other Deaf communities and then go to places with the most need. Within five years, they hope to increase the number of missionaries to the Deaf to 200, including at least 150 Deaf workers.

“We are committed to … lead efforts to bring Christ to every corner of the Deaf world,” Matthew said.

The identification of the Deaf as an affinity group has not only opened doors for more outreach to the Deaf, it also has opened the hearts of Deaf who never thought they could or would be involved in missions.

“When we first moved to Russia, Deaf Russians told us they couldn’t have a Deaf church,” signed Tex Winsome,* one of the missionaries commissioned at the service. “When we asked them why, the answer was always, ‘the hearing people tell us we can’t because God doesn’t call invalids into ministry.’”

Tex and his wife, Margaret,* have spent more than seven years trying to discourage this mentality. “We planted a Deaf church, and as a result, three more Deaf churches have been established,” Tex said.

For years, the people the Winsomes worked with lost hope because they focused on what people told them they couldn’t do instead of what they could do. “Today the Deaf of Russia have begun to understand that there is hope that the Deaf can,” Tex said.

IMB President Jerry Rankin told conference participants that “your deafness is not a handicap. It is a gift from God to be used to reach others for Christ with that uniqueness that only you have.”

With this unique gift, Rankin said, each person has the potential to reach multitudes of Deaf for the Gospel. Jason Shifflett, one of those attending the conference, hopes to fulfill that potential.

Although Shifflett is not Deaf, he grew up between two cultures — his mom is hearing, his dad is Deaf. “My first language (was) sign language,” the 20-something said.

“It’s really given me a unique position,” he said of his dual upbringing. “I don’t want [it] to go to waste, ever.”

Shifflett, who attends Deaf Fellowship Church in Grove, Okla., came forward after the commissioning service to learn more about Deaf missions opportunities abroad.

Learn about the affinity groups, including the Deaf, at imb.org/main/aroundtheworld.asp. E-mail deaf@imb.org to find out how you can be involved in sharing Christ with the Deaf around the world.

*Name changed

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Missionary to deaf shows how LMCO dollars impact ministry


Amy Dixon talks with her hands. As a missionary to the deaf in Moscow, Russia, it’s an occupational necessity. Your Lottie Moon Christmas Offering gifts cover a variety of Amy’s expenses, including her transportation, food and any medical attention she may need. The Lottie Moon offering also provides her with a place to live. In Moscow, apartment rent can run about $2,000 a month.

Throughout the year, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering provides encouragement. Despite Moscow’s sheer size and days that are often cold and gray, Amy is thankful that she doesn’t have to work an extra job just to make ends meet. The offering lets her devote all her time to ministry. And there’s plenty of it to do.

One such ministry is the OneStory project. The goal of this ambitious project, Amy explains, is to translate the Bible into sign language so deaf people can “see the Gospel.” Another uses texting on cell phones as a way to do Bible storying (sharing Bible stories in chronological order). As a deaf person herself, Amy is committed to the task.

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30 million Deaf wait to hear the gospel

4/2/2002By Mark Kelly

RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — One people group — numbering 30 million worldwide — will never hear the good news of God’s love, even if a missionary knocks on their door.

They will never hear because they are Deaf. Isolated socially and immersed in a culture radically different from the hearing world, the Deaf have little hope of even learning about Christ, much less understanding the gospel and receiving Him as Savior.

That’s why five leaders from the Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf met with International Mission Board leaders March 7-13 for the first Global Summit Meeting on Deaf Church Planting.

In that meeting, the SBCD task force and IMB leaders forged a partnership to direct more missionary outreach to Deaf populations worldwide. They discussed the possibility of developing training methods and creating a center to prepare Southern Baptists to witness more effectively to Deaf people. They talked about setting up a network that could match missionary requests for outreach teams with church teams ready to serve.

Members of the 73 Deaf Southern Baptist congregations and 555 Deaf ministries probably don’t realize how powerful their witness overseas would be, said Phillip Easterling, pastor of Birmingham (Ala.) Community Deaf Church.

“Deaf to Deaf witnessing is most effective because of the understanding of the language and the culture that Deaf people share,” Easterling said. “Sometimes it’s hard for a hearing person to win Deaf people to Christ but when it’s a Deaf person to another Deaf person, it’s much quicker. It’s like a magnet, something draws them.

“I have been to Romania six times for missions projects,” he said. “Each time, Deaf people would listen to our Bible teaching for four or five hours on a Sunday morning, then eat lunch with us and come back for more teaching. They would follow us to our rooms at night and sit on the floor and listen to our stories, stay until the early hours of the morning, sometimes even sleeping on the floor, because we were all Deaf.”

Deaf people have a credibility with other Deaf that hearing people will never gain, no matter how well they speak sign language, said Jeff Jackson, pastor to the Deaf at First Baptist Church in West Palm Beach, Fla.

He recalls a hearing missionary who served among the Deaf in Haiti and saw a dozen saved in 10 or 12 years. When an outreach team of Deaf Christians came from the United States, however, 100 Deaf in the community came to Christ in just one week.

Members of a Deaf club in the Czech Republic were fascinated when an elderly American Christian came to visit them and share her testimony in sign language, Easterling said.

The group was stunned that 90-year-old Lillian Beard would travel all the way from Houston, Texas. They wanted to see her passport to prove her age and took pictures of her because they knew others wouldn’t believe them.

Several of the Deaf noticed Beard demonstrated an unusual spirit of joy. One of them, an older woman named Anna, knelt in front of her and asked, “Why do you have that glow on your face? Older people here don’t have that.”

When Beard replied that her joy came from having Jesus in her life, Anna said, “I want that,” and prayed to receive Christ.

“We want to encourage Deaf churches to move up to a new level, become more focused on missions,” said Aric Randolph of New Life Deaf Fellowship in Fort Worth, Texas. “We want them to move past the stage of supporting missions and learn how to work in missions themselves.”

“Deaf Southern Baptists can reach their own people through their own language,” added Daniel Johnson, a minister to the Deaf at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Wilson, N.C.

“The Deaf are empowered to witness to their own people and plant churches. They don’t have to depend on hearing people to do it. They can do it themselves.”

Testimonies about Deaf outreach http://www.imb.org/ime/gods_world/bp/deafword.htm

Search missionary needs for Deaf outreach http://www.imb.org/FPNeeds/assignment.asp

Find out how God can work all around the world through you http://www.imb.org/you

The International Mission Board (www.imb.org) is a Southern Baptist Convention entity supported by the Cooperative Program (www.cpmissions.net) and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering (www.imb.org/ime/LMCO).

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Georgia Baptist Conference for the Deaf 2011

Norman Park, Georgia

September 16 – 18

Children’s Program

Age 4-11


Jesus is our friend.




Bible Stories



Please come to GBCD this September. You can bring your friend. You will have lot of fun and learning and fellowship with friends at GBCD. Please send your forms to GBCD. Contact me at robin.mcmullen@gbcd.org if you have any questions.

Prepare now to bring your kids to GBCD this September!


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About Us

The goal of the Georgia Baptist Conference of the Deaf shall be to encourage church services, teaching, training, and Christian fellowship among the deaf workers and the deaf throughout the Georgia Baptist Convention; to bring together, unite, and counsel those of like faith and beliefs.  The conference shall accept the Holy Bible as the only necessary rule of faith and action.  It shall elect its own officers, choose its own committees, and plan its own meetings.

[contact-form 1 “Contact form 1”]

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Welcome to the new GBCD website!  We are updating the website to bring new functions to the people we minister with and to allow adding videos and other multimedia content to this site.  Please be patient as we complete this transition to the new design.

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