The History of “The Silent Word” Newspaper
In 1966 as I watched a Deaf man, Alvin Spurgin, sign a song, “More About Jesus,” the Lord touched my heart to “Tell the Deaf More About Jesus.” My calling was a “nationwide” calling to reach the multitude of Deaf with the Word of God. “How could I do it?” God called me to start a nationwide printing ministry that included free tracts, Bible courses, and a small newspaper. My first calling has always been to reach the Deaf with the printed word. It still amazes me that the Lord inspired me with the perfect name, “The Silent Word,” and a perfect method to reach the Deaf world. Timing and trust made it possible. Think about it! I began learning Sign Language in August 1966 and sent our first paper to about 50 deaf on January 13, 1967, just three months later. I had a lot of “heart,” but not much ability with my “hands.” “The Silent Word” grew to about 10,000 in circulation. It was a 8½ X14 flyer, but I called it a newspaper. I remember thinking, “Cults use the printed word to reach multitudes. I will use the printed word to reach the multitude of Deaf for Christ.” Our mission statement is, “But we will give ourselves…to the ministry of the Word – to Deaf People” – Acts 6:4. “Into the Silent World with the Silent Word.” We always stay involved in the Great Commission to preach and teach the Word of God to the Deaf.
As I look back I realize that my “desire” was much greater than my ability. At the time, I did not know Deaf culture and had the “slowest hands in the West.” In spite of all this, the Deaf loved the paper and literature and accepted me. I often say, “I am not Deaf, but called to reach the Deaf.” The timing and opportunites were just right for my ministry. I often say, “We are not great; it’s just that we do not have any competition.” Later, I resigned the pastorate and became a missionary at the Bill Rice Ranch in Murfreesboro, TN to help establish a literature program for the Deaf. “The Silent Word” was merged with the BRR “Ranch Hand,” a newsletter to the Deaf. After 20 years of learning, training, helping deaf ministries, and preaching to the Deaf, I saw the need to return to the “roots” of “my calling” to the printed word. As a missionary to the Deaf I returned to our home town, Trenton, GA.
In 1993 we began anew without much support or funds. I only had a copy machine, a 486 computer, and a few lessons and courses. We started our print shop and office in a two-car garage. We survived the first few years from love offerings in meetings and some support. All funds above our monthly support of $2,500 went into the printed ministry. During this time I still had a deep desire to restart the newspaper. God opened the doors as Eddy Gifford the local publisher of the “Dade County Sentinel” asked me to “again” write articles for his newspaper. One day I discussed “The Silent Word” and my desire to re-print it. As he saw the “flyer” he smiled and said, “Why don’t you print a real newspaper?” I quickly said, “No way! I don’t have the funds or ability.” He then surprised me by saying, “You can do it, and I will help you. You can “piggy-back” on my newspaper with my special rates. You can also sell ad space to help pay for the cost.” He did help and actually pasted and printed the first quarterly issue of 5,000 copies in the fall of 1995. As I held the first edition, I realized that I was fulfilling my dreams and desire. I now had “more” knowledge, experience, and a greater outreach into the Deaf world. We also started “Fantastic Saturdays” to teach and train Deaf and deaf ministries. Our printed literature made a great impact through our newspaper and meetings.
This 100th issue you are now reading still contains my “desire” to “Tell the Deaf More About Jesus.” The ads, gifts, and “Sender’s Club” continue to help send the “free” newspaper. It is amazing that “The Silent Word” was born as I pastored a small church in Alabama, Beulah Chapel Baptist Church. God called me “one time” and He has never called me again. Since that time, I have always had Deaf people around me, and I have never stopped writing. Writing has always been part of “my calling.” I recently read that Eric Liddell in Chariots of Fire said, “God made me fast, and when I run, I feel His pleasure.” I retyped this “When I write, I feel His pleasure.” I am thankful for my mentors, friends, tutors, supporters, and many ministries that have helped make this ministry possible.
My ministry verse is “For if there be first a willing mind, it is accepted according to that a man hath, and not according to that he hath not” (2 Cor. 8:12). I have always had a willing mind, and God has accepted me according to what I have and not what I have not. There are many things I cannot do, but I am not required to do them. I am only required to do “what I can.” Also, “If any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” (I Peter 4:11). I have learned that many people are “more” talented and skilled and have more abilities, but I continue to be faithful to my calling. I have never lost my “desire” and “burden” to “Tell the Deaf More About Jesus.”
In conclusion, I have learned that everyone is different with different abilities, and gifts. It is a great day when you learn to “accept what you have” and learn that it is sufficient in the hands of the Lord. Stop trying to be what you are not. There is only one you, and you are unique. What is in your hand? What are your abilities? I wonder what God could do with you if you would just put yourself in His hands? Do you have a “desire” to be used of God? A servant does not have the right to choose his place and position of service. Today, when you look at my credentials, I was really not qualified to do what I did. Others had greater credentials but God gave me credibility as I sought to faithfully follow His calling. I have learned that God can do extraordinary things with ordinary people. When people now view our ministry and me, they quickly say, “It is obvious that God has had His hand on this ministry.” They easily observe that the ministry is far beyond my abilities. I can simply say, “Come see what the Lord hath done!” If God used me, then He can surely use you. My calling was to go “Into the Silent World with the Silent Word.” What is your calling? Will you surrender or re-commit yourself to please Him.
[ ] ”Yes, I now surrender my life to the Lord for His service. I have a willing mind, and I will use what I have to the best of my abilities. I now give what I have to Him for Him to use for His pleasure and glory.” Please share your decision with us – I will send more helpful literature. (Also a copy of the first issue the Silent Word as printed in 1967) Contact us!