Deaf believers shift focus to combat COVID-19

By April 15, 2020

International (MNN) — The World Health Organization first declared COVID-19 a global health emergency at the end of January. Today, there are nearly two million infections, over 460,000 recoveries, and half the world is under some kind of lockdown. See our full coverage here.

Coronavirus updates and “best practices” are constantly changing as health experts gain new information. For example, health experts initially believed the virus only spread through coughing and sneezing. However, specialists later discovered new infections could occur through contagious cells left on surfaces.

Communication barriers make coronavirus containment and prevention difficult in Deaf communities. That’s why Deaf ministries like DOOR International are stepping up to help. “Teams typically involved in Bible translation are [now] translating information that they’re receiving about COVID-19,” DOOR President/CEO Rob Myers explains.

“When you enter a Deaf community, you have to take a holistic approach; you need to serve a wide variety of needs. In this case, one of the biggest needs right now is information about COVID-19.”

(Photo courtesy DOOR International via Facebook)

Last month, DOOR International released a video about COVID-19 in ASL. You can watch it here.

COVID-19 changes

Normally, DOOR teams around the world translate God’s Word into sign languages and plant Deaf-led churches. Learn more here. Along with shifting Deaf Bible translators’ workload and priorities, COVID-19 is altering church planters’ plans.

In December, Deaf believers from East Asia completed extensive church planting and evangelism training with DOOR.  As the coronavirus outbreak emerged in Wuhan, China, at the end of the month, “they moved back to their regions…and the plan was for them to gather belongings and resources and then relocate,” Myers explains.

However, “as COVID began to spread throughout Asia, governments put cities and countries on lockdown and it became very difficult for these teams to move [and] begin their work.” DOOR maintains communication with Deaf church planters and evangelists in East Asia as they form new plans, Myers says.

“Even in situations where we are stuck at home that doesn’t stop ministry; that doesn’t stop us from living for Christ and sharing Christ with others.”

Coronavirus changes don’t stop there. The disease is “even…affecting the language of these Deaf communities. Because sign language uses hands and many of the signs end up touching the face in some way, Deaf people are more naturally exposed to getting the coronavirus,” Myers says.

“So, there have been modifications to how Deaf people sign in order to avoid touching the face.”

How to help

(Photo courtesy of DOOR International)

As Deaf believers adapt to help their communities fight the coronavirus, pray for creativity, wisdom, and God’s favor. “We want our staff to be safe out there. We want them to be wise in terms of how they operate, but we continue to remind everyone that – no matter where you are – you can be the hands and feet of Jesus,” Myers says.

“The world is ready now more than ever to hear about the hope of the Gospel and the hope that Jesus brings to us.”

You can also support Deaf teams financially through DOOR.  “Pray that funding would continue for [critical] projects in these communities,” Myers requests. “Pray that Deaf leaders would continue to be empowered to share the Gospel.”

Use this resource from our sister ministry, Prayercast, to pray globally.



Header image is a representative stock photo obtained via Pixabay.

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