North Africa (MNN) — According to persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, North Africa is home to two of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians: Libya and Sudan. Finding and graduating from a Christian seminary in this region; add persecution and the physical inability to hear, and the task seems unconquerable.
A Deaf believer named Chris* successfully navigated these challenges to become an ordained minister in North Africa. However, his trials didn’t end; they just took a new form. For example, one seminary classmate told Chris he shouldn’t be a church leader because he’s Deaf.
“Chris, obviously, was taken aback and said, ‘Help me understand… why is that?’ He (the classmate) said, ‘Well, you remember these Old Testament passages where…the high priest can’t have any defects?,” DOOR International’s Rob Myers describes.
“’In the same way, our denomination [believes] ordained ministers in the Church need to not have physical defects. So, they can’t be Deaf’.”
Deaf leadership barriers
This is just one of the many barriers Deaf leaders face around the world. Read another example from the DOOR blog.
“Many times over the years they’ve been told, ‘You can’t lead. You can’t do things.’ But, Deaf people can do anything that hearing people do can do; they have been created in the image of God just like hearing people have,” Myers says.
“The only thing they can’t do is physically hear.”
DOOR’s Deaf leaders helped Chris understand the true meaning of God’s Word. “The point of the priest not having defects is that it was a picture of Jesus coming,” Myers recalls.
“Since Jesus has come and He’s the perfect High Priest, He makes us right with God. Now, any of us have the opportunity to be ministers of the Gospel.”
How DOOR helps Deaf leaders overcome
DOOR believes that the best people to reach Deaf for Christ are Deaf believers. However, Myers observes, Deaf Christians are rare – less than two percent of the global Deaf population knows Jesus. Plus, Deaf-friendly resources and training are nearly non-existent. That’s why DOOR’s Deaf leaders select, train, and equip believers from Deaf communities around the world in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting – what DOOR calls the “2-by-2 program.”
After they complete DOOR’s training, Deaf leaders then reach out to other Deaf people for Christ and plant churches. Learn more here.
“What’s unique about the training that DOOR offers is it’s Deaf leaders teaching in-depth approaches and Deaf methodologies to other Deaf people. So, we cut out that middle step of having to take training from a [‘hearing’] context [into] a Deaf context,” Myers explains.
“Many times, people think that because Deaf communities are unreached, [churches need] to empower a ‘hearing’ community that lives right next-door to reach that Deaf community. But, in fact… if you empower Deaf people from places where the Gospel as already penetrated… those Deaf leaders connect with the local Deaf people in a way that a hearing person never could.”
Find your place in the story
Even if you’re not Deaf or don’t know any sign languages, Myers says you can help Deaf reach Deaf for Christ through DOOR.
“We’d love for you to… partner with us in seeing more Deaf leaders empowered to reach their own people, [and] be commissioned as missionaries to reach Deaf communities around the world.”
Support usually falls into one of three categories, he continues: praying, giving, or sharing. You can use the buttons below to share this article on social media. In doing so, you’re helping others learn about the Gospel needs of Deaf worldwide.
*–Name changed for security purposes.
Header image is a representative photo courtesy of Open Doors USA.