Marc Russell

I am married to an amazing woman, Angela, and we have 4 children ages 18, 15, 13 and 10, with our youngest being profoundly deaf and adopted from China in 2018. Oddly enough, my passion for the Deaf community began way back in 1993 while serving in the Air Force as an architectural engineer who loved digital art, architecture, engineering and hacking technology. In my department I worked with a civilian employee who was Deaf. She graciously invited me into her silent world and exposed me to the local Deaf culture. My exposure to the intriguing culture of the Deaf influenced me greatly and instilled an inextinguishable passion which has lasted half a lifetime. After completing my service with the Air Force I returned home to Florida and completed ASL 1, 2 and a theatrical interpreting course at a local community college. Soon after completing my A.A., I attended Flagler College in St. Augustine for a short time pursuing a degree in Deaf Education until God led me down a different path. In 1998, Angela and I married and moved to Clearwater, Florida to begin our new life together. In this new environment I was again introduced and welcomed into the local Deaf culture where I was refreshed by the connected community, visual expressions, rich passion, and story-telling characteristics that I fell in love with years earlier. I eagerly volunteered for the next couple of years with the Pinellas County Deaf Literacy Program assisting the Deaf community by teaching computer skills, reading fundamentals, and social skills.

During that time, God was preparing both Angela and I to serve as missionaries. As we both matured and were introduced more and more to who God really was, our desire to share that understanding with others grew. I had the opportunity to pursue my passion for technology and complete an A.S. Degree in Networking Services Technology. Soon after, I began serving with New Tribes Mission (now called Ethnos360) in the computer services department as a network administrator. Ethnos360 is an amazing organization with a genuine desire to love as God loves. Angela and I were encouraged by the organization’s passion to reach those who have never heard the Gospel, spend time building relationships and teaching the chronological word of God in a cultural context. At the end of 2015 our family packed up and moved to Waukesha, WI to attend the New Tribes Bible Institute, immersing ourselves in the teaching and study of God’s word for two years. We were completely confident God wanted us to attend and knew that we would be equipped. But equipped for what? During our time in bible school, our presuppositions about self were challenged by the foundational truth of our identity in Christ established by the eternal faithfulness of God’s character. We began to grow in our understanding of cultural worldviews in order to effectively communicate God’s truth and His Gospel clearly to people who have never heard. As we matured during our time at bible school our desire to effectively communicate the truth of God’s word and Gospel to the Deaf seemed more evident as a direction God was leading our family.

While in Wisconsin, we began the process of adopting a 7-year old deaf girl from China. Through an amazing story and testimony to God’s unbridled provision, we completed the adoption and flew over to pick her up during the Summer of 2018. This added to our existing family of three biological children. During the pursuit of our adopted daughter, passion for the Deaf culture increased within our entire family. We enrolled together in ASL classes so we could learn how to communicate, teach and relate to our new daughter. As we learned ASL and participated in Deaf events our passion for this unique culture was united and focused on building relationships within the Deaf community.

We are a missionary family and our hearts are burdened for the deaf. During bible school we were introduced to the need in China and planned to move there in August of 2019 to work with a team to reach the Deaf. Little did we know, God had other plans for relocation. With Chinese government restrictions prohibiting us from moving there at that time, He relocated us to Asheville, NC instead.

During the summer of 2019 we were introduced to Signs for Hope and Asheville Deaf Church, a loving community of people in Western North Carolina who welcomed us as a blended family of hearing and deaf. Our family was able to immerse ourselves in Deaf community during a week-long family retreat of encouragement, fun and instruction. We were able to meet and build relationships with amazing folks during the week that really impacted our family in so many ways. Almost nine weeks later, only by God’s leading and provision, we packed up our home in Wisconsin and moved into a rental home near Asheville, NC.

The last 19 months of our time in WNC was filled with great expectations, challenges, struggles, stress, pain, tears, new beginnings, exploration, revelation, joy, maturity, growth, loving relationships and adventure. Our daughter Noel relocated abruptly from China to America when she was 7 years old, without any language to understand the process or express her anxieties. Watching her progression of American Sign Language development in the last 3 years brings me amazing joy as I see how God values relationship and reconciliation. We are excited for this next adventure as we serve with Signs for Hope.