New resources combat theological confusion, empower Deaf community

By October 16, 2023

International (MNN) — Do you remember first learning about baptism or communion? Was it through a Bible study at church?

Perhaps you’re still unsure about these rites of passage. Many Deaf Christians fall into this category.

“Often, when we encounter Deaf people who come across these concepts, they’ve encountered them visually – they’ve seen people get married or baptized – but they have very little background information about why that’s necessary,” Rob Myers of DOOR International says.

“Frequently, there can be misunderstandings about the Scriptures connected to those areas.”

(Photo courtesy of DOOR International)

On one occasion, Deaf leaders trained by DOOR encountered a Deaf pastor employing unusual techniques. The Deaf pastor was “sharing the Gospel – which was awesome – and people were coming to Christ,” Myers says.

When it came time to baptize the new believers, this Deaf pastor would hand each person a microphone before they stepped into the water. “Keep in mind, these people are Deaf,” Myers says.

“Before they (new believers) were baptized, they’d say some things into the microphone. Our leader was also deaf and had no idea what this person was saying, so he asked the Deaf pastor, ‘What were you having them say in the microphone and why?’” Myers continues.

Referencing Romans 10, the Deaf pastor told DOOR’s leader, “This Scripture says, ‘If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.’ Deaf people must confess with their mouths that Jesus is Lord, so they have to speak the words when they’re getting baptized, and we have them practice that.”

DOOR’s leader quickly explained, “No, no, no, that proclamation doesn’t literally have to come out of your mouth; it can come off your hands, it can be a sign language proclamation – ‘Yes, Jesus is my Lord, I surrendered my life to Him.’ That small explanation had a radical change in terms of how this person [understood baptism],” Myers says.

“These kinds of misunderstandings are very prevalent in the Deaf community because Deaf leaders often don’t have full access to Scripture.”

DOOR International is producing a new set of training resources to help counteract the confusion. More about that here.

“These videos [will] be freely available to any Deaf leader who wants more training in evangelism, discipleship, or church planting, or just wants access to more theological education and content,” Myers says.

“The number of resources in sign languages is generally minimal. We plan to make these videos available for free on our website so that Deaf people can finally access this information in their heart language, in sign language.”

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Header and story images courtesy of DOOR International.

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