Uganda (MNN) – Growing up Deaf in Uganda, Sam believed the words of his village when they said he was cursed.
The only Deaf person in his small village, he believed he was alone. Different and rejected, his parents attempted to have his “curse” removed through multiple exorcisms.
Deaf and Alone
In villages like Sam’s, Deafness can be attributed to demon possession or sins of the parents.
“Unfortunately, this is…very common. Especially in areas of the global south, in areas where people don’t have a lot of information about Deaf communities and about Deaf people,” says Rob Myers, President of DOOR International.
DOOR is an international ministry dedicated to reaching the largely unreached Deaf community. Learn more here.
Some believers make the situation worse; some believe Deaf people do not have souls and thus can’t be saved. Myers attributes this to a misunderstanding of Romans 10:14.
The situation is particularly difficult for Deaf children. They are with their families and communities but cut off from the language of the group and information.
“When a person goes to engage with a Deaf person who has been cut off from information and has been cut off from language. Many times they make the assumption that this Deaf person is uneducated, maybe that they’re not smart, and that they don’t have the capacity to understand. Whereas, actually Deaf people have incredible capacity,” Myers says.
Sam got the chance to prove it.
A Child of God
When Sam turned nine, he was able to attend a Deaf school. His perspective began to change. He wasn’t alone and could communicate with others. However, he was still viewed as a curse in his village.
One day, he attended a local believers’ fellowship seeded by DOOR.
“I received Jesus, and now I know I am not cursed. Instead, I am a child of God. My village doesn’t understand, but my heart is at peace. I know God is using my life to show people that Jesus takes away the curse of sin on all who believe in Him,” Sam says.
The message of Christ’s love and sacrifice is revolutionary for many Deaf believers.
“They grow up hearing that they’re curses. But when they learn that Jesus has died for them, and they learn that in a language that they truly can understand, then their identity shifts and they suddenly realize that they’re chosen. They’re a child of God,” Myers says.
Believers’ fellowships like these are part of the continuing legacy of Door’s 2-by-2 programs.
The Ugandan 2-by-2 program that reached Sam is coming to an end. However, the locally operated believers’ fellowships will continue exactly as intended. 2-by-2 teams train and equip two Deaf leaders, one evangelist and one teacher. These locals build relationships and minister and train more ministers and evangelists. After 5-7 years, a native-run ministry can continue alone. In Uganda, this process began in 2012 and will come to an end by 2020.
Learn more about these programs here.
“DOOR’s goal is not to be forever working with these teams. We train indigenous Deaf leaders so that they can start to reach their own communities and as they become well established, DOOR works our way out of a job,” Meyers says.
When they leave, the local Deaf Christian Association takes over responsibility. Through supporting teams and fundraising, locals continue the work of reaching people like Sam.
How to Pray
Pray for the Ugandan Deaf community as their ministry efforts continue to grow. Ask for protection and wisdom among Deaf people who may be alone and stigmatized. Pray for the success of other 2-by-2 programs around the world and consider supporting ongoing work.
Header photo courtesy of DOOR International.