After receiving her sign, Todd still ‘signing’ after 40 years

When Margene Todd moved to South Carolina four decades ago, she asked God for “something to do to keep her busy.” God answered that prayer.

After seeing a message and song presented in sign language, her heart was deeply inspired. But there was a huge problem: She didn’t know sign language, let alone a single deaf person.

So, she asked God for a sign: “Lord, if this is what You’re wanting me to do, You’re going to have to bring a deaf person to me.”

It wasn’t long before she heard a knock at her door. Before her stood a deaf man. “Thank You, Lord. That’s my answer,” Todd responded.

So, she attended a couple of retreats at the Bill Rice Ranch in Tennessee, studied a book of signs that she received from a Greenville church, and found a mentor. In 1982, she approached Kirk Lawton, then pastor at Ocean View Baptist Church, who was receptive to her idea of starting a deaf ministry there.

Now, 40 years after receiving her sign, Todd’s hands are still telling others of God’s love as she signs for services at the Myrtle Beach church. On May 22, she and the Ocean View congregation celebrated “how we have worked together, and how we trusted God that He would keep the ministry going, and He would show us what we needed to do,” Todd said.

“One of the most profound things about Margene’s story is that 40 years ago when she felt compelled to answer the call of serving in the deaf ministry, she felt wholly unequipped,” said David Gross, associate minister of creative arts, choir and education at Ocean View.

“It was not something that she felt like she had trained for or prepared for, but she was aware of the great need of the deaf community to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ, to experience relationship with Jesus,” he said. “Though she felt ill-equipped, she was willing to be obedient, and she realized that God would equip her along the way,” he noted.

Long ago, on Sunday mornings when Todd stood before the congregation to sign, she recalls looking up at the cross in the sanctuary and praying, “Lord, I’m standing here for You. Now You work through me.” Her prayer for 40 years now has been that God would speak through her hands, as she shares the pastor’s messages with the deaf people who come to her church. She has counted 26 people who are now in heaven as a result of its deaf ministry.

In addition to translating services, Ocean View also offers a deaf Sunday school, led by David Hawley. “The Lord is really working through him,” Todd said. He is one of several who have taught the deaf class through the years at Ocean View. Between 15 and 20 deaf persons currently attend regularly.

“We’ve been blessed to have many good teachers to come into our church, who themselves are deaf,” Todd said. “I believe in using the deaf, if you can, and if they’re willing. Because deaf like to be taught by deaf.

“So, I’m just kind of in the background now,” she continued. “I do everything I can to support them, but I let them do the teaching, if possible. Then I interpret the message.”

Todd’s ministry, though, extends well beyond signing for services. Deaf people have come to depend on her for many things, and she finds herself on call much of the time.

“One of the things that came out of her act of obedience is, God created and fostered a genuine love [in her] for the deaf people,” Gross said. “So, it is not limited to just performing the act of translation. She goes above and beyond. She has learned to love them in a variety of practical ways.”

For 40 years, God has been answering her prayers to speak through her hands. Now that she’s reached 40 years in ministry, is she going for 50? “I don’t know if I’ll hang in there for 50 or not — only God knows that. I’d be 91,” she chuckled.

“I am very humbled and grateful that God has allowed me to be His servant,” she said. “He has blessed me tremendously, and I give Him all the glory. He’s guided me all the way. Every step that I’ve made, it’s been Him.”

This entry was posted in State.