International (MNN) — Can Deaf people be missionaries? The team at DOOR International believes so, and they’re developing sign language resources to expedite the process.
DOOR President Rob Myers says many assume Deaf people can use written tools as readily as their hearing friends, but reading is a sound-based activity. “Information access is a huge issue in the Deaf community,” he says, explaining many Deaf prefer to learn new concepts in sign language.
“We’re hoping to make video resources that would help local Deaf communities [answer questions like], ‘what is evangelism? How do I share the Gospel [or] lead someone to the Lord? How do I disciple someone?”
In partnership with several ministries, DOOR is developing these resources to fuel Deaf-led evangelism and church planting efforts. They’re also working on tools for sign language Bible translation. More about that here.
Why sign language matters
Each Deaf community has a distinct language and culture, making Deaf believers the best ones to deliver the good news of Jesus. More about that here. However, it hasn’t always been easy for Deaf believers to enter the mission field.
A quarter-century ago, many mission organizations refused Deaf believers simply because of their deafness. “Or, they (Deaf believers) might have been constrained if they had to be a self-supported missionary. Then, they ran into issues trying to raise their support,” Myers explains.
Thankfully, “the understanding of the need for Deaf ministry has shifted dramatically in the last 20 years,” he says.
“If the ideal person to reach [Deaf] communities is a Deaf person, then we want to encourage Deaf missionaries; we want to raise and train Deaf leaders. That only happens in a sign language context, and that’s why these resources are going to be so critical.”
Praise God for breaking barriers of misunderstanding! “We used to consider Deaf ministry as a ‘special needs’ ministry alongside other special needs ministries. Now, we realize Deaf communities are just minority language groups,” Myers says.
“In the same way that we would reach other minority language groups by doing Bible translation [and] training indigenous leaders, we do those same things now in Deaf communities. The best people to reach those communities are other Deaf people.”
Find your place in the story
As this training ministry moves forward, ask God to guide the process, and bring many Deaf people into His kingdom. Download a prayer calendar from DOOR here.
“Ultimately, we’re hoping these resources will help generate a curriculum for a training [and] leadership school,” Myers says. Find ways to support DOOR’s efforts here. “We would not be able to do the work that we do without being in partnership with other missions organizations, as well as other resource partners,” he continues.
“This is a collective effort, and we would love to see you partner with this work.”
Header image courtesy of DOOR International.