Jon Barr was saved in November 1975 at Palm Springs Drive Baptist Church in Altamonte Springs, Florida, under the ministry of Pastor Loyal Carlson. One year later, as a senior in high school, he learned Sign Language and began working in the deaf ministry there. In the fall of 1977, Jon enrolled in Bob Jones University, majoring in Sacred Music. During his first semester, God called him to work with deaf people. Changing his major to Church Administration, which later became Church Ministries, he began to prepare for the deaf ministry. In the spring of 1978, Jon organized an extracurricular class and began teaching Sign Language to fellow students. Several of those students are now working with the Deaf. During the spring of his Senior year, Jon surrendered to God’s call into missionary work with deaf people.
At the age of five, Diane made a profession of faith. Later, after some time of doubt, she gained assurance of salvation by considering the question, “Are you trusting a prayer or Jesus Christ?” In 1978, she graduated from Bob Jones University with a major in Science Education, Biology emphasis. After graduation, Diane worked in the BJU film department for one year. Responding to the call to missions, she then served as a missionary-teacher in Kingston, Nova Scotia, for two years.
Upon Jon’s graduation in 1981, he and Diane were married. He accepted a position as pastor to the deaf at his home church, Palm Springs Drive Baptist (Pastor Loyal Carlson), to prepare for missionary work. Diane began teaching in the church’s Christian school. In 1984, the Barrs began raising missionary support and establishing deaf ministriesacross America.
Since 1984, they have begun many deaf ministries throughout America in both large and small churches and have seen many Deaf people saved through their ministry. In 1989, the Lord burdened Jon’s heart for deaf ministries in the West. For the next 10 years, the Barrs worked in the west for six months each year, starting several deaf ministries and assisting established deaf ministries in Southern California.
In 2000, the Barrs merged their ministry with Silent Word Ministries, where Jon serves as President. Along with starting new deaf ministries, the Barr’s ministry now includes conducting area-wide deaf ministry Fantastic Saturdays to encourage and train deaf people and deaf ministry workers, literature and videos for Deaf people and Deaf ministries; The Silent Word Newspaper, a free, 12-page, bimonthly paper with a circulation of 12,500; the Deaf Bible Institute, a correspondence school with over 800 Deaf people enrolled; and local, regional, and international meetings. Jon has preached and taught in several countries including the Philippines, Belize, Bolivia, Ukraine, and Peru. All meetings, literature and videos are Bible-based.