- J.R. Bucklew
Resting in His Word
I remember the first time I stepped out of an airplane in Northern Ethiopia. The air was dry, hot, and dusty. Little did I know how the ministry work in Ethiopia would send me on a journey that would result in an organization like Deaf Bible Society.
Growing up as a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults), and understanding firsthand the need for the Bible to be accessible to the Deaf in their sign language, has been much of what has fueled my passion for this work. However, as a CODA, we often struggle with issues of identity. The question of "am I hearing" or "am I Deaf" becomes so much of who the CODA is and that is a difficult place to be.
Somehow along this journey, I faced a very different identity crisis. The question of my identity slowly transitioned from the one I sought to serve to the thing by which I served Him. In that transition, I entered a season where I became consumed with the work and with the broader mission at hand. I then began to neglect essential things in my own life. Those things can be seen merely as spiritual and physical health.
When we start to become more like Martha than Mary (Luke 10:38-42) and find ourselves doing more for Christ than being before Christ, we put ourselves at risk of burnout, falling into sin, and total failure. I certainly allowed my pride to convince me that I was incapable of either one of those three issues.
A few months ago, at the urging of someone who has become a friend, I attended a conference. There at that conference, I was met by Word and Spirit. Through the preaching of God's Word and the impressing of the Holy Spirit, I felt an overwhelming sense of conviction and peace about what I needed to do. I needed to confront things in my life that I had allowed to keep me from being truly before Christ. I needed to stop masking the lack of walking in the light one on one with Christ with all of the things I believed I was doing for Christ.
This experience led me to engage my Board of Directors on September 29, 2019, to offer my resignation as President and CEO of Deaf Bible Society. The Board initially rejected this offer and proposed that I take a personal leave of absence to focus on my soul care, health, and family. However, after much prayer and discussion, they were willing to accept my resignation. Please know how hard a decision this was for them, and how difficult this was for my family.
Pursuing light and pursuing Christ is hard. It is hard to move from the position of Martha to the seat of Mary. Even harder still, when Satan whispers shame in your ears of what all the other Martha's might say. Yet I know when I reach heaven, I want to be able to speak more about the walks and conversations I had with Christ as I sojourned in this world than only the things I thought I had accomplished for Him.
On November 11, 2019, I announced my resignation as President and CEO to the staff of Deaf Bible Society. My departure was effective immediately, and the Board has called upon Chantel Pagan (CDO) and Adan Burke (CPO) to act as interim Co-CEOs. My heart was and still is to see every Deaf person presented with the Gospel message in their sign language!
My family is now entering a season of restoration, rest, and replenishment. The Board of Directors has asked me to thoughtfully and prayerfully consider returning in May of 2020 to serve DBS in some other capacity. As we have not decided at this time, I would ask you to please be praying for my family and me as we seek how the Lord would have us serve Him in this next season of our lives. We genuinely desire to be used by Him as He directs. Right now, I will be focusing on sitting at His feet.
I am so grateful for the many partners who have come alongside us over these last seven years. So many of you have given sacrificially to the Sign Language Bible Cause, and I thank you so much for your faithfulness and partnership with Deaf Bible Society. I am also especially grateful for the amazing staff who serve so faithfully at Deaf Bible Society. Their passion and heart for the mission is an inspiration.
There are always a million questions that arise when a leader steps down or when a transition must take place. As a dear friend shared recently, "He is Lord. He is even Lord of the questions." We trust this, and we would ask you to do the same. Please continue to pray for the staff of Deaf Bible Society as they restructure, and as each person finds clarity in their place within the mission of providing God's Word in Every Sign Language.
Until all the Deaf Have Seen,