LOUISVILLE, Ky. – “In that day the deaf will hear the words of the scroll”
Although sign-art evangelist Tyra Lokey cannot heal the deaf, her ministry brings to them a new level of worship. For nearly a decade, Lokey traveled around the world leading and teaching believers about Christ through sign art.
Sign art is a combination of interpretive movement, mime, dance and drama, that is built upon sigh language. With her hands, arms, face and body, she expresses the intensity of worship; in the calm silence, the audience almost hear the presence of God, as their hearts pound in passion and praise.
With the Hope Community Church in Lawrenceburg as her home base, Lokey travels widely, performing in as many five churches or conferences per month. Since 2001, she has traveled full time for her ministry, and has trained more than 100 teams to share in the sign art ministry.
Despite the unwavering success of her ministry, Lockey never loses sight of the core of her ministry, which is to teach the love of Christ.
"I don't promote a sign art ministry," Lokey said. "I promote a relationship with Jesus Christ. Many people don't come to my classes to learn sign art, they come to experience Christ. I try to be a walking billboard that says 'Christ.'"
Lokey began this form of ministry during her years at Murray State University. While helping build a church for deaf people in Puerto Rico with her classmates, she began to think more deeply about those unable to hear the gospel directly.
"I thought 'God, they would not be able to know your Word without her hands.” Lokey said, remembering the sign linguist’s translating the sermon during the church’s service. “God, that's what I want.’"
After this experience, Lokey resolved to learn sign language; she began to pick up the language at a “miraculous” pace.
"It was definitely a touch from God," she said.
The following summer, Lokey involved herself in a deaf music ministry. She traveled with the group as the only hearing person. She said the experience taught her to appreciate silence and value her hearing, as well as immerse herself in the deaf language and culture. This experience allowed her to refine her skills in the language and bring out the art within it.
"When I saw them doing music and dance, it wasn't just the little woman in the corner of the television set," Lokey said. The troupe's performances fused sign language, creative movement and drama.
Since then, Lokey has devoted her life to the ministry and to Christ.
"I want people to be well aware that I am just Tyra. No lights, no confetti, just Tyra serving a great God. He does not need me, but I do want to be available."
Lokey’s next performance will be at the Kentucky Baptist Convention’s Creative Ministries Festival on March 7-8 at St. Matthews Baptist Church in Louisville.
By Pauline J.