USA (MNN) — Deaf leaders are hoping a recent event, Issachar Summit | Grand Rapids, will help put the needs of their people on the Church’s radar.
“Hearing people have always seen the Deaf, but they don’t really understand the Deaf,” says Paul Njatha, a Deaf Kenyan leader serving with DOOR International.
Less than 2% of the global Deaf population knows Christ, making them one of the largest unreached and unengaged people groups in the world. As such, the Deaf were one of three focal points at the Summit.
As explained here, each Issachar Summit helps focus the Church’s attention on Christ’s final command: going and making disciples of all nations. This instruction is also known as the Great Commission, and it’s the heartbeat of Issachar Initiative.
Issachar Summit | Grand Rapids
Issachar Summit | Grand Rapids gathered more than 150 marketplace and ministry leaders from across the West Michigan area. They heard from presenters like Samuel Chiang, Paul Eshleman, Roy Peterson, and more.
Presenting entirely in sign language, Njatha and a Deaf Ethiopian coworker, Tesfaye Moges, shared how hard it is for Deaf to access Scripture.
“Many hearing people think that all the sign languages in the world are the same,” explains Njatha.
“There [are] over 350 sign languages in the world (but) only a very small percentage have had any translation, maybe about 20 sign languages.”
J.R. Bucklew from Deaf Bible Society (DBS) also presented at Issachar Summit | Grand Rapids, sharing his experience growing up as a CODA (Child Of Deaf Adult). DOOR partners with DBS and others to eradicate spiritual poverty among the Deaf.
Why does it matter?
In order to resolve a problem, you must first be aware of its existence. In order to make disciples among the remaining 1,061 UUPGs (Unreached and Unengaged People Groups), the Church must first be aware that these millions of souls have no access to the Gospel.
Issachar Summits help provide this awareness to believers in major cities throughout the U.S. The Summits also introduce believers to specific needs, such as the needs of the global Deaf community.
Of the estimated 70 million Deaf people worldwide, fewer than 2% of them know Christ. Along with sign language Scripture, the Deaf need Christian leaders. “We have very few mature Deaf leaders,” Njatha explains.
“Remember that the Bible says the harvest is huge but the laborers are few. We would like people to pray so that we can get more leaders who could be trained, so that they train other Deaf leaders.”