The Work of His Hands
Noah Buchholz, M.Div., assistant professor of American Sign Language (ASL) at Bethel College, is a natural storyteller. It’s something he’s been doing for as long as he can remember, so it’s no surprise he delivers with confidence and enthusiasm. But the way he presents — not verbally, but with his hands — may come
as a surprise to some.
Buchholz is third-generation Deaf, born into a home with Deaf family members and a community that embraced deafness as the norm. Introduced to sign language at a very young age, Buchholz never felt deficient in any capacity.
Unfortunately, this is not the case for many Deaf people around the world, who face discrimination and the perception that deafness is a disability. That’s why Buchholz is passionate about Deaf advocacy, especially in the church. In fact, this was the focus of his master’s work at Princeton Theological Seminary.
“My goal is to show the beauty of Deaf culture and the struggle of Deaf people,” says Buchholz, who has presented his ASL literary works, speeches and workshops internationally and in the United States, at colleges including Harvard University.
Buchholz, with his mother, started Deaf International in 2005, an organization that encourages Deaf advocacy overseas. Through Deaf International, he has traveled to Trinidad, Romania, Moldova, England and Northern Ireland, developing resources and training for Deaf ministry, and even working on translating the Bible into Russian and Romanian sign language.
He also served as a consultant for Deaf Missions for six years, working to translate the first ASL version of the New Testament into video format.
“It was the first time in history that the New Testament has been translated into any sign language,” Buchholz says. “We looked at source languages and deliberated for a long time about that process.”
Now an ordained minister who has pastored three Deaf churches, he dreams of starting the first Deaf seminary in the United States.
“At a hearing seminary, they don’t know the best way to spread the gospel to Deaf people,” he says. “If you want to minister to people, you have to study their culture — and at the heart of that is language.”
For now, though, Buchholz has found a home at Bethel College, a place he says understands Deaf culture and has a well developed program that trains students to make a difference.
“I can see myself teaching here for many years,” he says. “My life goal is to continue training strong interpreters.”
Learn more about Noah at NoahBuchholz.com.