USA (MNN) — Deaf Bible Society’s new online tool, Deaf Church Where, maps where people can find Deaf accessible churches. Ryan Sims, Deaf Church Where Project Coordinator with Deaf Bible Society, says Deaf Church Where is helpful for many reasons.
Besides the obvious benefit of connecting Deaf believers to the Body of Christ, it can also be an invaluable connecting resource to pastors of Deaf churches.
“You have to understand in the Deaf community, it’s very spread out so finding pastors can be very scarce.” Sims says. “I, being a pastor myself, can reach out to another church and I can talk about the frustrations that I have and some of the stress that I have and see if that person has any wisdom and advice that they can give me. We can come together and pray. Vice versa, they can share their frustrations and problems.”
Pastors of Deaf churches can feel alone in ministry, especially in rural areas where Deaf resources may be spread out and disconnected.
“Out of a big city, you’ll have a variety of [Deaf] churches, but just outside that, those pastors might feel isolated.” With the help of tools like Deaf Church Where, “They’ll be able to reach out for help [and] be able to build relationships and have accountability.
“If you’re looking in Acts 1:8, it talks about spreading out God’s Word in essentially the local area and then to the greater area and then to the world. So it’s the same concept with the big city and then the cities surrounding that large city of little towns and then the world. We don’t want to miss that in between.”
Sims says before the advent of Deaf Church Where, a major connection point for Deaf Christians were conferences. But conferences for the Deaf are few and far between, and when searching for a church, Deaf people can find themselves in embarrassing or uncomfortable situations.
“Some [Deaf] people, they’ll go to a church and [realize] there’s no interpreter. Oftentimes, they feel like, ‘Oh, I wish I had called ahead of time.’ It’s a feeling of embarrassment for them. Then that church is like, ‘Oh, I’m sorry, we don’t have anything to meet your need.’ So it causes guilt within the church and causes embarrassment for the Deaf people.”
In creating Deaf Church Where, Deaf Bible Society hopes to bridge the gap between Deaf believers and church communities. Ultimately, they hope to see more Deaf leaders rise up in the Church family and reach other Deaf individuals with the hope of the Gospel.
Sims hopes that Deaf Church Where can grow as a platform with new features. For example, he would like to eventually see Deaf accessible churches add links to sermons and notes, and indicate if they are sign language accessible in other languages besides English. Sims would also like to see Deaf Church Where go international.
“Oftentimes [the Deaf] are more of an overlooked people group so they are viewed as hidden,” Sims says. “But their relationship with the Lord is just as vital.”
There are several ways you can get involved — Deaf or hearing — and Sims says, “One of the most important ones is prayer. We cannot do this without God’s leadership and wisdom. Pray for leaders so they can feel that they’re not alone…. Pray for God to be involved in these specific churches.”
You can also support Deaf Bible Society here and help connect our Deaf Christian brothers and sisters to the Body of Christ!
“We really want to make sure we have the opportunity to connect with every Deaf person because our mission at Deaf Bible Society is that every person will be able to experience God’s Word in their heart language, and we don’t want to miss anyone for any reason whatsoever.”
Header photo courtesy of Cytonn Photography via Unsplash.