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May 4, 2004

Andalusian elected president of deaf group-1

From: Andalusia Star-News - Andalusia,AL,USA - May 4, 2004

By Jeffery L. Biggs

Cromwell Josey is on a mission. A mission that he feels God has led him to do. A mission that most would find challenging under any circumstance, but one that many would view as impossible considering Josey is hearing impaired.

Recently elected president of the Alabama Baptist Conference of the Deaf, or ABCD, Josey is on a mission to bring the Word to deaf people across Alabama - and beyond.

The ABCD's mission is "to minister to deaf people for Jesus Christ by serving in partnership with Alabama Baptist Deaf Churches, deaf ministries and Southern Baptist Organizations to fulfill the Great Commission Š"

That mission is something Josey feels compelled to live up to.

Elected president in March, he has been busy organizing and planning for the future of the organization.

And though he's hearing impaired, Josey is able to speak, and is an excellent lip reader.

"I was elected this past March," he said. "I've been working to get everything organized and ready for our executive board meeting."

Getting ready for that meeting means organizing committees, setting goals and traveling to other churches with deaf ministries.

Setting goals and following through with them is something Josey is taking to heart, keeping in mind that all the work he does has a higher purpose.

"I did not know how many deaf ministries there were in Alabama until I was elected president," he said. "There are around 60 - 65, and most of those are in the north, around Birmingham. There are only two deaf churches in Alabama - one in Birmingham, and one in Talladega.

"Those are also the only churches with deaf pastors," he continued. "One of my goals is to find out the needs for deaf ministries and try to meet those needs. That could mean finding other deaf pastors to serve."

To meet the needs goal, Josey has taken a hands-on approach.

"I got a big map of Alabama and highlighted where there are deaf ministries," he said. "With that map, we're able to find out where the greatest needs are and concentrate our efforts there. We're also trying to locate where there are deaf people without ministry opportunities and see if we can get some form of deaf ministry to them."

Currently, in south Alabama, the options are limited - but not in Andalusia.

A deacon at First Baptist Church in Andalusia, Josey is an active member of the deaf ministry, a ministry that flourishes and trains others to go out to help fulfill the Great Commission.

"We recently celebrated our 19th year of deaf ministry at First Baptist," Josey said. "In other areas of south Alabama, that opportunity isn't there."

Currently, Josey said he only knew of other deaf ministries in south Alabama in Dothan, Mobile, Troy, Robertsdale and Samson.

In fact, the Samson ministry began through FBC-Andalusia.

"We had someone in our Sunday School class from Samson," he said. "He drove here for church, and has started a deaf ministry in Samson."

However, his main goal as president of ABCD is to see the organization grow in standing and profile, and he views his opportunity as president as a gift from God to see that happen.

"I would love to see ABCD grow each year, and see more deaf people become leaders at ABCD and in their local churches," he said. "I view this as a gift from God. It has been prayer that I can go statewide and do missions work. With this opportunity, I feel like God has given me that chance, and I feel that God will continue to open the door for deaf ministries and share those through ABCD."

But Josey won't be alone with his work. Along with having the support of First Baptist Church, he'll have the support of his wife, Sharyn, who is also hearing impaired, and the love of his four-year-old daughter, who Josey says has no signs of being hearing impaired.

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