August 2016 Prayer Letter

August 11, 2016 9:18 am

Dear Praying Friends,
This month we celebrate 23 years of marriage and the completion of 22 years of ministry!

Attendees of the training school

Missionaries at the BIO Training School

Training School
We held the annual BIO Missionary Training School at our office in June. We hosted our missionaries who are working with the Deaf. This meant that Stephanie and I either taught or interpreted each class.

Bill Rice Ranch
I was asked to help preach and teach at the Bill Rice Ranch for two weeks in July. We enjoyed being back where our ministry began over two decades ago.

During the first week of camp we saw 4 Deaf trust the Lord as their Savior. There were 6 more who trusted Christ during the second week!

Norman was one of the boys in the class that I taught each day during the second week. It was exciting to have him come to me at the invitation and declare, “I thought I had to be baptized to be saved. I thought I had to go to church to be saved. Now I know that I need to trust Christ to be saved.” At that point, without any prompting from me, he began to pray and ask the Lord to forgive his sins and to save him! Pray for Norman and his spiritual growth.

I was also asked to be part of a team that was preaching to a group of Korean young people who came to camp. They are visiting the United States from a school in South Korea. Though they go to a Christian school, the teachers knew that many of them were not saved. I was only involved in their first of two weeks at camp. During their second week, after we had laid a very clear foundation for the Gospel, 10 of the students asked the Lord to save them with 3 others receiving help with assurance of salvation. Praise the Lord!

Ethiopian Ministry
On my trip to Ethiopia in December of 2012 I met Bizuayehu Assefa, a deaf pastor who quickly became a dear friend. Recently, after suffering a massive stroke, Bro. Bizuayehu passed away in July. Pray for his family and for the churches that he helped to lead. If you would like to help support Bizuayehu’s widow and the churches in Ethiopia with a financial gift, you can send that to the BIO office with his name clearly marked on it.
As always, thank you for your continued involvement in our ministry.

A printable PDF version of the August 2016 Prayer Letter is available for download.

May 2016 Prayer Letter

May 16, 2016 1:13 am

Dear Praying Friends,
We were blessed to visit several of our supporting churches during a recent trip to Texas. This included our sending church in Odessa. We greatly enjoyed reconnecting with people we have not seen in a few years.

We spent a couple of days with our dear friends David and Flora Hartsfield and I spoke in their church. The next night I spoke with a group of deaf refugees. I enjoyed seeing various churches work to reach these people that God has brought from the other side of the world. Our friend Debi coordinates this ministry to the Deaf. She is a faithful missionary with whom we have previously worked.

It was an honor to be one of the guests at a missions conference in Abilene. The pastor, Bro. Winn, was my youth pastor and best friend in high school. I have learned much from him and his family in the almost 35 years we have known each other. I am encouraged by his faithfulness.

Bro. Winn and I went soul winning together during the conference. I was thrilled to see his passion to share the Gospel has not waned. We both took on our familiar roles: he carefully and gently led a young lady to an understanding of the Gospel while I prayed silently and did what I could to keep Chaos, the dog, from living up to his name.

Photo of me and leaders at a Nigerian deaf school.

Visiting a deaf school started by Missionary Andrew Foster. Nigeria, 2009.

In Big Spring I had fun showing pictures of one of my trips to Africa to a group of Nigerian college students. Several of them attended a school that I had visited during that trip. Its is likely that they were there the day I visited their school!

Also in Big Spring I spoke in a deaf church started by a former missionary to the Deaf in Mexico, Jim Walterhouse. The church celebrated their 3 year anniversary a couple of weeks before we arrived. It is exciting to see how God is using our friends to further His work.

We then spent a week in Odessa with friends and family. I enjoyed preaching during all the Sunday services of our sending church while we were there.

In June we will host our annual training school at the BIO office. I will also be preaching again at the Bill Rice Ranch for two weeks this summer. We appreciate your prayers as we continue to serve the Lord in the coming days.

A printable PDF version of the May 2106 prayer letter is available for download.

March 2016 Prayer Letter

March 3, 2016 2:30 pm

Dear Praying Friends,
This new year has opened up a few new opportunities for us to serve the Lord in the ministry to the Deaf. As I’ve gotten focused on the work, I have been caught off guard as to how quickly time has gotten away from me. Recently I told a church that they were hearing my “new prayer letter” in person and that I would be writing the paper version in a couple of days. That was two weeks ago! Where has the time gone?

Sign Language Classes
As I did a few months ago, I am teaching a sign language class at two of our local libraries. In the previous class I was able to get one of the students interested in coming to church with us. She came faithfully for a couple of months but still has not made a decision for the Lord. We are praying that the Word of God will take root and that she and her children will accept the Lord.

I was asked to teach a class in an interpreter training program at Crown College in Knoxville. This is especially exciting since the majority of the students at the school are preparing to serve the Lord in local churches or on the mission field. I am thrilled at knowing that these students are serious about serving the Lord and about thoroughly preparing themselves in the area of deaf ministry.

Missions Conferences
We have recently been in two different missions conferences. One was at a church that has supported us for 16 years. It is a blessing to see many of the same faces that we first met so many years ago. The other conference was at the Campus Church of Pensacola Christian College. We were there representing our mission board as well as sharing our burden for reaching the Deaf. We talked with many students and enjoyed time with several old friends. Some are on faculty and staff at the school and others were classmates who have now been in faithful service as missionaries since we all graduated over 20 years ago.

We are looking forward to a trip to Texas in a few weeks. We were asked to be in a missions conference in April that will take us to within a couple hundred miles of our home church. We look forward to visiting family and friends while we are there.

Ministry has been busy but enjoyable. We covet your prayers as we continue to train others in the work of sharing the Gospel with the Deaf.

A printable PDF version of the March 2106 prayer letter is available for download.

November 2015 Prayer Letter

November 23, 2015 1:52 pm

Dear Praying Friends,
Happy Thanksgiving! As Christians, we have much to be thankful for all year. I am truly thankful for the ministry God has called us to. That doesn’t mean the ministry is always easy, but it is comforting to know that we are in God’s will and He has a plan for all that takes place.

Our son James is now a freshman at Pensacola Christian College. He is almost done with his first semester. We look forward to spending Thanksgiving with him and my parents this week. James has grown tremendously in his maturity over the last year. We pray that God will use this time of school to continue developing him into the man God desires him to be.

In October I needed to go to Perú. While it was a ministry trip with a specific goal, it turned out to be a personally enjoyable time. I have many friends in Perú and I enjoyed seeing a good number of them during my 3-week trip.

I preached 13 times in 7 different ministries. Six times were to the Deaf.

While in Perú I spent time with some friends from Argentina who were some of our best students when we were starting the deaf ministry in La Plata, Argentina a few years ago. This couple recently moved to Perú and are looking forward to greater ministry opportunities as they get more involved with the deaf community.

Stephanie and I are both continuing to enjoy a ministry as community interpreters. At times we aren’t called on much to interpret and other times we are almost overwhelmed with appointments. However, in the busyness of it all, I enjoy the opportunity to minister to the Deaf in a practical way. Recently, in a casual conversation with a deaf lady I had never previously met, I enjoyed seeing her face light up as she spontaneously shared with me her salvation testimony. Those are the times that I enjoy most about the many hours sitting and chatting while waiting for an appointment to progress.

We covet your prayers for our ministry. As with all missionaries, we enjoy when you can write a quick email and give us news about your ministry and tell us how we can pray for you too.

May God richly bless you during this holiday season.

A printable PDF version of the November 2015 prayer letter is available for download.

Peru Trip 2015

October 15, 2015 8:32 am

I haven’t said anything about my trip to Peru in any of my prayer letters because this trip was planned somewhat on short notice. Then when it did get scheduled it was nestled between a few other events that diverted my attention. But, I am a week into a three-week trip and you are just now reading about it.

Street scene

When I was here 24 years ago this road was all dirt. I don’t remember any buildings taller than 1 story on this street.

It is good to be back in my beloved Peru. I fell in love with Peru during my second trip here. That was in 1991. I spent 4 and a half months working at a church and school for the Deaf named Efata. Though my main purpose for being here isn’t Efata, they have been gracious in giving me a place to stay and providing me opportunities to preach to the Deaf. I really appreciate their offer of housing because I absolutely love being back here.

I am enjoying visiting many of my friends in and around Lima, but my main reason for being here is to spend some time with one of our BIO missionary families and see what I can do to help them and their ministry in various ways.

An added blessing is having some friends from the deaf ministry in Argentina who are also here at this time. My goal with them is to continue to encourage them in their work with the Deaf. I pray that as they are here in Peru they will get the extra training they seek as well as have a fruitful ministry among the Deaf.

I also get to play grandpa to their kids. After a visit with an older missionary couple this morning we are going to spend the day at the zoo. I pray that God will use this time of casual conversation to strengthen our relationship and that I can be a help to my friends in the ministry. I trust that God has us both here for a specific purpose and I want to be sensitive to what that purpose may be.

August 2015 Prayer Letter

August 17, 2015 9:09 am

Dear Praying Friends,
We have had a wonderful summer full of ministry opportunities and enjoyable reunions.

Training School
The annual BIO Training School was a blessed time of learning and fellowship. What made this year special is that we held our training sessions in the new BIO Training Center. This is the lower floor of our office building. The Training Center is in a “not quite complete” state. Using it in this condition helped us learn how we can better use the space while we can still make design changes.

The classes were tremendous and I always learn from them. I taught two classes: one on communication and one on a technology topic. I trust the missionaries also benefited from this special week of training.

Deaf Camp
Stephanie and I enjoyed a week of deaf camp at the Bill Rice Ranch together. Then I returned for a second week without her. I taught the first-time boys’ class and was able to pray with 4 young men as they accepted the Lord during camp. We had 16 young people trust the Lord as Savior during my two weeks at camp. There were 26 Deaf saved this summer at the Ranch.

Photo of me presenting award.

Pablo Ramirez working with BIO for 25 years.

Catching Up
During Training School I always enjoy spending time with other missionaries. This year I had an extra special treat in that I got to be with my friend Pablo Ramirez from Costa Rica. It was an honor to present him with a 25-year service award as he and his wife have ministered to the Deaf through BIO these many years.

Of course there were many old friends that we saw while serving at the Bill Rice Ranch this summer. We enjoyed seeing them all.

At Home
Last week I met Kevin, a deaf man who recently moved to my area from the other side of the state. Kevin told me that he had gone to the Bill Rice Ranch as a camper during the 90s. Though I don’t specifically remember him, we were there at the same time. Kevin assured me that he was saved, but he wasn’t saved at the Ranch. His father was a pastor and clearly presented the Gospel to Kevin when he was a boy. I am thankful for parents—especially parents of the Deaf—who take an active role in teaching their children about the Lord.

Thank you for continuing to help us carry the Gospel to those Deaf who aren’t privileged to learn about the Lord from their parents.

A printable version of this letter is available for download in PDF format.

May Prayer Letter

June 1, 2015 10:51 am

Dear Praying Friends,
A few days ago I was showing my parents around the historic city of Oak Ridge, Tennessee when we happened to meet a deaf friend. She requested that I interpret a funeral for her family the next day. This was the second funeral that my wife and I have been involved in as interpreters since our last letter. These are open doors to share God’s love and grace with hearing and Deaf who have questions about eternity.

photo of our daughter and pastor

Our daughter Leyla with Pastor David Cross

Our good friend and supporting pastor, David Cross met his savior the day before Easter. With the Lord’s help, he fought cancer for 12 years. Through everything that was going on in his life, he was a great example and role model for his family and the church. He will be missed. The ministry of the church will continue strong because of Pastor Cross’ preparation for this time and his sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s leading.

We were able to attend the graduation of my younger brother when he received his Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP) a couple of weeks ago. Our son graduated from high school this past weekend. It is hard to believe that he is old enough for this. However, he has shown great maturity over the last few months. That makes it easier to believe that he is ready, even if we aren’t. You can see pictures from these graduations at

Preaching Opportunities
I have preached in two different deaf churches in the last few weeks. I also voice interpreted for our good friend Ronnie Rice when he preached in a hearing church in our area. I look forward to spending 2 weeks with Bro. Ronnie and Allen Snare this summer as I preach at the Bill Rice Ranch for deaf camps.

Right Place, Right Time
On a Wednesday night a few weeks ago the young people stayed with the adults instead of going to their normal youth classes. The interim pastor wanted us to spend more time together in prayer after the death of Pastor Cross. I prayed with some of the young people. When we finished praying and were just chatting, one of the young boys casually said to me, “I’ve been wanting to talk with someone about getting saved.”

What a wonderful open door to step through! I prayed with him and went to talk with one of the youth workers about his decision. When I returned, I asked the other two boys if they were saved. One confidently replied that he was. The other boy responded with long pauses between his words, “Yes. I think. Actually, I don’t know.” I was privileged to share Bible verses and pray with him to be saved.

Training School
Our biggest meeting of the year for the mission board is coming up in a few weeks. Please pray for us as we teach various classes to our new missionaries and some of our veterans. Some classes will be office procedures while others will be focused on being more effective ministers for the Lord. Training week is June 22-26. We would appreciate your prayers for this important meeting.

A printable version of this letter is available for download in PDF format.

Graduation Day 2015

May 25, 2015 10:55 am

High School Graduation

Our son James graduated from high school. Though he is home schooled, he graduated with 32 other young people in a ceremony with almost 800 people in attendance. This is thanks to being part of a home school association in the Knoxville, TN area. We had a great time with a few family members at the ceremony.

photo of James

Ready to walk!

The whole family together.

The whole family together.

James with Mom and Dad.

James with Mom and Dad.

Before the evening graduation, we had about 40 friends gather at our house for an open house in honor of our graduate.

table filled with food

Ready for the open house!

We thank the Lord for the maturity and direction He has given to James. Though James still does not know everything the Lord wants him to do, he is taking one step at a time. This fall he plans to attend Pensacola Christian College and study professional writing.


My younger brother graduated with his Doctorate in Nursing Practice (DNP). We had a good time with Mom and Dad while we were in Orlando for the graduation.

Graduate and handsome brotherCousins and the GraduateGraduate and Parents

February Prayer Letter

February 18, 2015 3:17 pm

Dear Praying Friends,
We thank the Lord for several ministry opportunities over the last couple of months.

Sign Language
I taught an abbreviated sign language class in a local Christian school in January. The class consisted of kindergarten up through middle-school students. I taught sign language in conjunction with a daily chapel time. Because I was saved during a Christian school chapel, I enjoy sharing my testimony with Christian school students.

When I was 10 years old Mrs. Parnell, the kindergarten teacher at our Christian school, took me aside and led me to the Lord after a chapel service. She and her family have faithfully served the Lord as missionaries in Uruguay since that time. I would like to show the same faithful example to these young people.

Pastor Francisco
One of the pastors in Mexico that we grew to love and respect contacted me recently. Pastor Francisco and his wife are hearing but have dedicated their lives to reaching the Deaf. He updated me on their ministry and asked for contact information for Bro. Bill Green, our coworker in Yucatan, Mexico. I trust that Pastor Francisco and the Greens will be able to work together to reach many more Deaf.

Sword GroundbreakingGroundbreaking
Dr. Garvin Dykes and I were invited to the groundbreaking ceremony for the new dorms at Sword Deaf Baptist College. Bro. Fred Adams invited us because he plans to dedicate the ladies’ dorm in honor of Joyce Vick for her many years of service to the Deaf. Mrs. Vick is the late wife of our mission board founder Richard Vick. Though I never met Mrs. Vick, she was a great example for many involved in deaf ministry.

Pastor Cross
We attend Faith Baptist Church in Jefferson City when we are home. The pastor, and good friend of ours, Dr. David Cross was diagnosed with cancer 12 years ago. He has been a wonderful example of showing grace to others and gratitude to God during these years. We appreciate your prayers for the church and his family as he is anticipating going home to be with the Lord soon.

A printable PDF version of this letter is also available for download.

Teaching a Local Sign Language Class

January 23, 2015 8:54 pm

This week I was privileged to teach in a local Christian school each morning. I taught sign language and gave my testimony each day. Well, I taught as much sign language as I could in a 45 minute class each day. Plus I used my time to give my testimony and encourage the young people to serve the Lord.

The school is a new school and only in their second year. I had 25 to 30 students each morning. They ranged from kindergarten to middle school.