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“Sue Thomas: F.B.EYE” Visits CIU

April 13, 2011

By Abbey Shoemaker

CIU Student Writer

A Columbia International University alumna, whose career with the F.B.I. was the inspiration for an action TV series, addressed the CIU student body and students at Ben Lippen School in April.          

The series, “Sue Thomas: F.B.EYE” is based on the real life experiences of former CIU seminary student Sue Thomas who was an F.B.I. lip-reader in her pre-CIU days.  The program is featured on The Gospel Music Channel (GMC), and is seen around the world.    

Thomas, who was a CIU student in 1984, addressed a CIU chapel service, not as a pastor or teacher, but as a witness proclaiming the love and faithfulness of Jesus.

Thomas, who lost her hearing at 18 months old, shared about her 61-year journey of learning to cope with her deafness.  As a child, she was teased relentlessly by classmates. 

“Day in and day out I was ridiculed every time I opened my mouth,” Thomas explained.  “My parents instilled in me that I was created in the image of God and that God never made a mistake.  But I questioned that,” Thomas said.

Thomas’ journey to be able to speak was not a short one.  Seven years of speech therapy and years of voice lessons were necessary for her to learn to speak with appropriate pronunciation and inflection. 

After spending three and a half years working for the F.B.I. as a lip-reader, Thomas wondered if there was more to life.  She prayed for direction and found herself at CIU.

“Most people come to Columbia with a heart to serve God, but I came looking for an answer,” Thomas said.  “I wanted to know if God had made a mistake when He created me.”

Wanting someone to understand her pain, Thomas told a friend at CIU that she had a terminal illness.  Over seven months, the lie spread, and Thomas found herself in a chapel service with the student body praying for her physical healing.  But God knew she needed to be healed on a deeper level.

Having confessed the lie to her friends, Thomas was required to face the academic committee.  The night before her appointment with the committee, Thomas’ Bible fell open to Hosea 14, and God gave her a promise that she held onto for dear life – “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely” (Hosea 14:4).  Thomas was allowed to stay at CIU with the stipulation that she attend counseling.

Although she did not receive a degree from CIU, Thomas received something much more valuable – her salvation.  Reflecting the heart of the school Thomas closed, “Friends, I know Him, and with every breath I want to make Him known.”

http://podcast.ciu.edu/chapel-messages?field_acm_speakers_value=Sue+Thomas

For local media coverage of Sue Thomas’ homecoming to CIU see WACH TV:  http://www.midlandsconnect.com/news/story.aspx?list=~%5Cnews%5Clists%5Clocal%20and%20state&id=604536

Sue Thomas also spoke to high school students at Ben Lippen School.  WLTX TV in Columbia was on hand:  http://www.wltx.com/news/story.aspx?storyid=132831