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God’s Sign language!

The story below ‘God’s sign language’ is one of the many stories from the book ‘God’s Sign language’. The book is currently published in Dutch. We hope to also publish it in English if we receive financial support for this.

The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows his handiwork.

One day tells its tale to another, and one night imparts knowledge to another. Although they have no words or language, and their voices are not heard. Their sound has gone out into all lands, and their message to the ends of the world. 

(Bible – Revised Standard Version, Psalm 19:1-4)

‘This will be a sign unto you: You will find a baby […]’  ‘So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in a manger’.  (Luke’s Gospel 2:12/16)

Beirut  (1971-1977)
What eventually made me stay in Beirut was the Arabic Sign language, the language of the Deaf(*) that I learned there. Fascinating, flowing, open and honest, dynamic and expressive, humorous and rich! I had learned some languages already, but this was new!… A friend (The Rev. Andeweg from Voorburg, the Netherlands) whom I met in Jerusalem invited me to come and help him in the Clubhouses for the Deaf in Beirut. 

The language of the Deaf: According to a convention that is universally recognized, in all references to members of the Deaf communities who ‘speak’ Sign language and identify themselves with Deaf culture, ‘Deaf’ is written with a capital letter ‘D’. An audiological fact or deaf as an adjective outside this definition is written with a small letter ‘d’. 

From my hometown in Holland I knew about clubs and I was keen to get involved in something like this. I had only heard about Deaf people but reasoned that they would be just like everybody else and that this should not pose any problems. Besides, here was a marvellous opportunity to get to know the Arab world from a different perspective. I was happy to accept. 

The Father Andeweg Institute for the Deaf
The thing that stood out when I first entered the Beirut institute’s school gates was the language. Hands that were busily engaged in movements, faces that had a lively and expressive mimicry, little sounds … Sign language! Within five minutes I was sold! This I wanted to learn! Additionally, the written and spoken versions of the Arabic language form  one of the most difficult languages in the world to learn. I thought by myself that Sign language might at least be a little easier.

How fortunate that there is this language of Signs, otherwise Deaf people would really be stuck. Especially when there are so few opportunities to get a decent education and to learn to read and write. Sign language, the language of Signs, truly is a wonderful gift from God. 

Often I have tried to imagine the disappointment of the Almighty when he sees his world – our world. He bends over the edge and observes the mess that mankind is making of things. He sees the wars and the hunger caused by people. He sees the terrible pollution of the earth – His creation – His garden. And then He looks again and searches for people who read His word, the words He had his prophets speak and His servants write and compile in His Book. Sadly enough they are few and far between. And the majority of those who do read just don’t seem to understand what they are reading. Even the angels and the archangels, the cherubim and the seraphim don’t have a solution… And then He has this wonderful idea.

God’s Sign language
What if people could SEE in a Language of Signs, would they understand better? And once more the Almighty starts to reveal himself, but this time in a language of Signs, in the language of those who may be deaf but certainly aren’t dumb. As unborn children in the mother’s womb the Deaf learn to recognise the physical condition of the mother, as though they feel the same thing and experience it in the same way – Happy, sad, tired, enthusiastic, exhausted… Later, when they are being nursed while sitting on their mother’s lap, they learn to interpret the mother’s mimicry and body language – Tense, relaxed, angry, glad, singing, cussing. A thousand impressions need to be interpreted and responded to. Indeed, signs or images and physical expressions have tremendously rich potential to reveal a world around them that slowly gains in meaning. 

But to be able to do this one needs to be deaf, because most people are in fact too lazy to invest the necessary energy. To ‘speak’ the sign language might actually work, but to ‘read’ this very unique language when you have not been immersed in it from birth is always more difficult. That is why Deaf people or Children Of Deaf Adults (CODAs**) are always better able to read and interpret Sign language. In fact it remains God’s unique and wonderful gift to the world of the Deaf, but they also carry a guardians’ responsibility.

A language of Signs and Wonders
We now ought to read our Bibles from the very beginning and search for the signs

The first thing is two trees: the tree of Life and the tree of Knowledge, together with a fruit and a snake as signs of deceit and of disobedience. The sacrifice of a lamb and the other of the produce of a garden launch the concept of jealousy and murder. Angels with swords keep closed the gates of paradise. Mankind is told that they will work and toil by the sweat of their brows, while carrying and giving birth to a child will be a very painful business. 

On this journey we meet Moses in the desert at the burning bush that doesn’t turn into ashes, and listen to God’s voice. We wonder about his miraculous shepherd’s crook and follow a pillar of cloud by day and at night a column of fire. We see the copper snake on a stake as a sign of healing, still the symbol of a doctor’s practise. We remember Joshua with his trumpets and cymbals at the battle of Jericho. We meet Elijah on his way to heaven in a fiery chariot and Elisha who splits the river Jordan to cross it dry-foot, like Moses, Joshua and Elijah did before him. Elisha hastens after his servant Gehazi who took Elisha’s staff to raise a small boy from the dead. Famously we think of the small jug that would not stop pouring forth the oil. There is David, the Lord’s anointed, who beats the giant Goliath and makes him shorter by one foot, sorry – actually one head. We imagine the prophet Isaiah on his visit to King Hezekiah when he lengthens the day by turning back the sun. We ought to read about the prophets whose lives and works are absolutely bursting with signs and wonders and the astounding works of God…

The signs of baptism and new life
And at last the times come for the Almighty to make his voice to be heard and the heavens to open, and for him to give them yet more signs and tell mankind how much he loves them.

That he returned because he longed after them after the angels refused them entry into the garden. That he Almighty and merciful God again wishes to come among his people, not as a threat but vulnerable, helpless, as a baby, the ultimate sign of God’s love. As is written in the gospel – the good news – of Luke: ‘This will be the sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.’ 

A dove tells us of the Spirit of God coming down, and confirming water and baptism as the signs (sacrament) of a new covenant and a new man. Afterwards there was the sign of the wedding (another sacrament) where Jesus replenished the wine and saved the day; and can we forget the people who were healed and how Jesus multiplies the five loaves of bread and two fish, or the resurrection of dead Lazarus?

‘I will be with you’.
We end with the sign of the Lord Jesus himself, God’s beloved, who will no more forsake us but be with us until the end. The penultimate word of God’s Sign language dictionary is a cross, a sign for the reconciliation of mankind with the Almighty, and the empty tomb for a new beginning. Jesus had the last word when he told his people to eat the bread and drink the wine, signs of his body and blood – his presence, and always remember him! 

In his great mercy God translated all of this into a language that may be easier to understand. And now he is looking for Deaf people, experts in the field of Sign language, who will help hearing people with the interpretation of these wonderfully visual signs. The language of a gracious God who will carry on until, amazingly, He has found us.

Footnote: CODAs, ‘Children Of Deaf Adults’, is an internationally recognised convention.

schilderij amazing grace van roger de carpentier

A language of Signs and Wonders

The book: 

“God’s Sign Language”

God's Sign Language

Brother Andrew’s book “God’s Sign Language” is finally available in English. We would love to send you his book, for free! We will even pay for the shipping costs. Yes, we carefully budget, but the message of the book is the engine behind our projects. It needs to be shared.

The paintings of his twin brother Roger provide an entrance to a world where priest-monk Brother Andrew takes you to have a new look at the present-day relevance, consequences and applications of centuries-old Biblical stories. You will meet Abraham – God’s friend – and his sons Isaac and Ishmael.

You will get to know his slave Hagar, Ishmael’s mother, and hopefully learn to look at Biblical stories through Middle Eastern eyes. It may well change your views about Almighty God, but especially also about Muslims and Christians. Touched by the Almighty this “follower of the Cross” shares his personal experiences and insights and takes you closer to Jesus the Messiah.

The Carpenter’s Son foundation will never give your information to a third party. It will only be used for communication of foundation activities.


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More about the book:

‘The Word of Life’; Jesus’ disciples understood that ‘Word’ and ‘Life’ belong together. In the beginning, God spoke and He has never ceased speaking since. In the same vein Brother Andrew de Carpentier has used his stories to speak of his life and work. With God’s calling and almost 50 years of living and working in the Middle East as a priest and monk – as a Father and a Brother, this book will attempt to speak of things that cannot be told, and show things that cannot be seen.

The Land where Jesus walked
Brother Andrew’s twin brother Roger re-connects us through his paintings with Biblical persons and places, reflecting insights and perspectives from Andrew’s life as a follower of Jesus the Messiah – the Christ – in Jordan and the Middle East region. It is the land where Jesus walked, prophets spoke words of wisdom and of life, the Spirit of God descended upon the Lamb of God in the form of a dove, and God’s voice was heard to say how much he appreciated his eldest, his beloved: “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” He is ‘the living Word of God’ – as is written in the Quran … For that is the message of the Holy Land.

The Middle East is almost synonymous with ‘conflict’ between Christians, Muslims and Jews. But is that really necessary? Particularly on this topic, Brother Andrew’s insights may surprise us. Starting with the friendship between God Almighty and Abraham, what is the scope of the blessing of Abraham? What special role is there for Ishmael’s mother, Hagar? What about our ponderings and God’s divine thinking?

Andrew’s words challenge us into action; through his passionate works on a global scale involving innovative technologies to fit hearing aids – particularly for people unable to afford them; his research into the possibilities that new technologies offer people who are deafblind to communicate between themselves and with others beyond the current one-on-one settings; and his work on increasing the quantity as well as stronger professional skills of sign language interpreters for Deaf people.

“The Bible took on
a life on its own”

Co-author René Kolsters


broeder andrew

Brother Andrew de Carpentier

Arie L. de Carpentier, alias Brother Andrew, grew up in Dordrecht, The Netherlands. He was 40 years director of the Holy Land Institute for Deaf and Deafblind Children in Salt, Jordan. As an Anglican monk and priest, he served thousands of children and adults in the Middle East region who were Deaf, deafblind or had other disabilities. By the end of 2017, he retired from this post, and ‘re-invented’ himself to become a consultant and advisor for a variety of organisations. His skills, knowledge and experience made him a unique resource person who continued to provide many people with the practical resources and spiritual counsel they needed. Sadly he unexpectedly passed away in 2020. But his inspiration lives on.

René Kolsters

During his education to become a journalist René wrote an article about a meeting where Brother Andrew gave a presentation. His words left a profound impression on
him. It seemed as though the Bible took on a life of its own. No tongues of fire but a fiery tongue indeed, which seemed to blow as only the Spirit can. The world upside down. Makes
you think of Somebody else… Together with his father – a friend of Brother Andrew’s from their youth – he decided to go to Jordan to get to know more. He spent a few days in Brother Andrew’s company and for many years afterwards, he went to Jordan a couple of times a year to support the Institute where Brother Andrew was the director, by producing newsletters and fixing IT problems. In Roger’s later years, his illness re-united the two brothers. The arguments were finally buried, in no small measure due to Roger’s wife Geertje who said one day rather animatedly: “And now I have had enough of your bickering. I don’t want to hear another word!” Andrew enjoyed Roger’s paintings and Roger was happy with Andrew’s stories. We would like to present to you; the brothers – their paintings and their stories; together. During those years he learned much from the priest and the co-workers at the institute. In 2015 he even worked as a volunteer for half a year at the institute and lived there with his family. At the time his efforts to write a book about ‘the Institute’ met with success, but although something similar about Br. Andrew and his message failed, the desire remained. During the trip at the end of 2018 which René, his wife Tanja and Brother Andrew made through the United States the time for a book as envisaged had arrived. And here we are! The message that got to him so many years ago can now be shared with many others.


afbeelding cousins


In the story ‘Christmas’, Brother Andrew portrays Christmas from a Middle Eastern context. “In the living room of your house, among your family, in your everyday lives, in our hearts is where he wishes to be born today!”

Read more »
schilderij amazing grace van roger de carpentier

God’s Sign language!

The story below ‘God’s sign language’ is one of the many stories from the book ‘God’s Sign language’. The book is currently published in Dutch.

Read more »
schilderij van Roger de Carpentier over Naomi en Ruth


In the story ‘Crossing Bethany’ Brother Andrew gets into a conversation with someone who has strange dreams: “I think that the Lord Jesus the Messiah, Son of Mary, Peace be upon him, would very much want to get to know you and would really appreciate visiting you.”

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Brother Andrew: 'Be the message'

Brother Andrew gives a passionate talk on ‘Faith and Society’ at the 2013 COEXIST event in Amman, Jordan. His key point: ‘Be the message!’. The Youth Association for Reality & Awareness (Y.A.R.A.) aims to make the world a better place to live.

Memorial Brother Andrew​

“A Sign from Above”. Under this heading we want to commemorate Brother Andrew during an online gathering on Saturday, November 28. The commemoration in English takes place from 20:15h – 22:00h (UK time) via YouTube live stream.


We stand on the shoulders of giants

Recently I spoke with Jameel, an Egyptian who worked for many years with Brother Andrew in Salt. He soon said: ‘I really miss him’. And I responded with the phrase I still hear often when talking about Brother Andrew: ‘I still miss him too.’ Today he would have been 75 years old. It’s been almost four years since he passed away…

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photo of the group at the wind mill

Final report exchange 2024

The 5 Deaf and 3 hearing representatives from the Jordanian Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities are safely back in Jordan. They completed the intensive 8-days program with visits to schools and organisations for deaf education and interpreter training.

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