Historic gathering of Deaf African leaders for discipleship training

By April 3, 2023

East Africa (MNN) – In February, Deaf leaders throughout Africa held a historic gathering with one purpose – discipleship.

Rob Myers with DOOR International says, “This is probably one of the first significant gatherings of Deaf African leaders for the purpose of discipleship and church planting, potentially ever. These are Deaf leaders who are trailblazing. They are making new paths in the Deaf community that have never been there before, in terms of developing discipleship approaches, and really pioneering this work in the community.”

This meeting was a huge step. There is a tremendous need for clear Gospel teaching to Deaf people both in Africa and worldwide. DOOR’s mission of Deaf reaching Deaf for Christ aims to bring the Gospel to this underserved population in the way they best understand.

Myers explains, “The statistics are that less than 2% of Deaf people globally know Jesus and have enough information to be able to follow him well, and so that language barrier is significant. And it’s been a significant barrier for Deaf people for a long time.”

Disciple Making in Africa

In response to this need, Deaf African leaders came from about 10 countries throughout Africa for disciple-making movement (DMM) training. They encouraged one another, learned new strategies, and practiced new techniques. The goal was to ensure each leader walked away with the tools needed to share the Gospel, help lead others to Christ and empower them to invest in their local church.

Image courtesy of Deborah Hudson on Pixabay

Trainers used what DOOR calls the M-AWL technique. This stands for model, assist, watch, and let them do it themselves. Myers says, “I might model what it means to study my Bible. Then I might assist my disciple in studying their Bible. And then I might watch them as they’re working on studying their Bible. Then as they get better and better at it, they don’t really need me anymore. They can do that fully on their own. But not just that, they can teach other people how to do that through that same process too.”

This method not only follows the strategy of the Great Commission but also helps prevent pastor and leader burn-out. Rather than one person single-handedly caring for a large number of people, disciple-making means that new members of the body can support the church as they begin to use their gifts.

“God created this, this wonderful system where the body of Christ is there to support one another,” Myers says. “So when I’m discipling someone else that person actually gets to experience a lot of my life one on one. That also typically means they’re spending a lot of time with me in my home, in a church setting, and maybe even sometimes in a work setting. Just to see, ‘What does it mean to follow Jesus?’”

More to be Done

The meeting in February is exciting, but there is still much work to be done. Myers says that there are several ways the church can get involved. “The first thing that we ask people to help us do is to help the rest of the church become aware of this significant need in the Deaf community. Deaf people are unreached.”

Beyond that, the church should be praying for Deaf leaders as they strive to overcome barriers to the spread of the Gospel. They also need financial support. If you’d like to support the work of DOOR, click here.


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