East Africa (MNN) – According to DOOR International, God is moving in Deaf communities in East Africa.
DOOR International CEO/President Rob Myers shares that the need for Scripture and discipleship in local sign languages is desperate.
“Out of 70 million deaf people worldwide, less than about 15% of them have Deaf-led church presence within their own communities – and only about that same number have access to Scripture,” Myers explains. “So, many times when we approach a Deaf community, this is some of the first time that they’ve ever had access to the Gospel.”
Unlike many hearing Church plants in the West, Deaf people often feel isolated and don’t have a reference point for the Gospel. They don’t have the background of who Jesus is or why the Bible matters.
DOOR seeks to help bring the Gospel to life through local Deaf Christians. Their model is the 2-by-2 program. They send an evangelist and a teacher, into a city to build relationships and share God’s truth with local Deaf.
These teams then provide discipleship, help establish believers’ fellowships, and eventually train up new evangelists, teachers and leaders. However, even once those new leaders are identified and trained, that is not the end of the work.
“So many times those communities still need a mature believer who can come alongside them and answer some of the very hard questions,” Myers says.
“If you think about the context of the New Testament, you had Paul, who was a missionary in a number of different cities, but he would follow up in those cities and sometimes he would plant other strong believers in those cities to help local churches to continue to grow and thrive.”
That is the model that DOOR wants to follow.
Mature Discipleship in East Africa
Veteran Deaf Christians can be difficult to find with such a small population of Christians within any Deaf community. So DOOR is excited to see God provide leadership in East Africa through a mature believer who felt the call to disciple new Deaf Christians.
Myers says, “For the first time, we actually had a Kenyan Deaf missionary, go from Kenya to South Sudan to support South Sudanese Deaf leaders that we had provided six months of training for.”
Edward Obaga moved with his family to South Sudan in the midst of COVID-19 to assist South Sudanese leaders. Edward has been a believer for ten years and though he is young, he’s been trained for discipleship and evangelism to Deaf communities. He provides mentoring and support as new Sudanese Deaf Christians navigate ministry in a difficult time.
Myers says, “I think the reason that we’re so excited about Edward engaging that way, is that this is yet another example of everywhere to everywhere. Some church planting organizations talk about how it used to be the West to the rest. So the Western civilization, Western countries sending out missionaries to other parts of the world. But as things have changed, and more and more believers have have cropped up in various countries, we now see a paradigm that’s more everywhere to everywhere.”
All people, Deaf communities included, need to hear about the God of hope during the uncertainty of COVID-19. God blessed the work of teams in South Sudan and Mozambique. They are celebrating new Bible portions in South Sudanese sign language and Mozambican Sign Language. There are new believers fellowships and Deaf-led church plants in both countries. Yet, there are still many Deaf in East Africa who need to hear the good news of the Gospel.
Pray for continued growth in the Deaf Church in East Africa in the midst of the COVID-19 crisis. Thank God for the discipleship that is happening between the Obagas and their South Sudanese brothers and sisters. Ask God to give Edward Obaga wisdom as he continues to mentor the teams in South Sudan. Support the work of DOOR International here.
(Header Photo Courtesy of DOOR International)