Most who know me know two things, I am profoundly deaf and worked for the FBI as their secret weapon with my lipreading expertise and later—had the award winning TV series called Sue Thomas: F.B.EYE inspired by my life. The second thing you might or might not know is that I carry the FBI name in a very public way. I am Sue Thomas, (F)irm (B)eliever (I)n CHRIST.
I was born and raised in Youngstown, Ohio, and faced overwhelming odds when at the age of 18 months I became profoundly deaf. With dedicated parents who refused to institutionalize me, they set out to provide the tools that would enable me to live and survive in the world of sound. It was imperative to them that I would learn to speak, even though I heard nothing. This began years of speech therapy to give me the voice that would be heard around the world.
Deemed “a dummy” and put into the slow learner class throughout my public school days, I was finally discovered by my typing teacher who saw the raw potential that was concealed by my deafness. Through the life of this teacher, I went on to college where I studied Political Science, International Relations, and received my BS degree before doing post-graduate work in counseling at Case Western Reserve and Columbia Bible College and Seminary.
Being profoundly deaf, was the one thing that drove me to the Lord. For 35 years in spite of being successful with the FBI using my lipreading abilities to capture the bad guys, I resented and despised my deafness and the silence. My deafness kept me from the very thing that I love—people. Helen Keller said it best, "blindness separates a person from things and objects; deafness separates a person from people." How well do I know these words.
I tried to run from the silence in every way possible, alcohol, drugs, alternative lifestyle, you name it, I did it to try to find acceptance and live with the silence.
My parents taught me as a child that God never makes a mistake, but the older and supposedly wiser I got—I believed my parents were wrong, and that God did indeed make a mistake when He allowed the silence to over take me.
I left a successful career at the FBI to find God to make Him confess He made a mistake. I found Him in seminary in what is now known as Columbia International University in Columbia South Carolina. It was there at the age of 35, that I fully surrendered to God at the foot of the Cross in all of my shame and sorrow. It was there on that day, that the transformation of my life was to become complete for the very thing that I hated, despised, and rejected—the silence—would be transformed into my best friend, the thing that I loved the most—the silence. It is only in the silence that we will truly hear the still small voice of God, the silence will teach us, if we listen.
It was with that transformation thirty five years ago, that God placed in my heart to build a sanctuary in the wilderness where the silence would never be broken, "that God's people shall return from exile far away and will rest beneath His shadow, and be as a watered garden." (Hosea 14:8)