There is a great need to reach out to the lost souls of the Deaf Community as there are an estimated 278 million people with a moderate to profound hearing loss according to World Health Organization in 2005. In our church we seek to teach the Deaf in Sunday School the same studies the rest of the church is using but with a more visual and dramatic approach. Many Deaf do not understand the meaning of salvation through belief in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior or the differences between heaven and hell. We encourage and welcome anyone to come see our Deaf Sunday School class to experience the drama of the Bible Studies through acting out the stories to gain deeper understanding. Esther teaches the Deaf Sunday School class and in her words, “I myself have learned a lot about the Bible. I like to share with everyone what I learned from God’s Word.”
How do we Reach the Deaf?
Our Deaf Ministry has regular events of Outreach to the community with a Bible story acted out and the Gospel shared at every event. Some of the events we have hosted are a swim party and the Easter Party. These events would be great opportunities for the hearing congregation to come support the Deaf even if you don’t know ASL (American Sign Language). I guarantee you will have a blast and be blessed at the same time.
How Can the Hearing Church Members Communicate with the Deaf?
We would love to encourage anyone to come and say “Hello, how are you?” Then give hugs and shake hands. The Deaf in our church would welcome you to write notes and look face to face at them. Raising your voice would not be helpful and could be seen as hurtful. The Deaf love to laugh and love people and would welcome you to come sit with them and show you genuinely care—our church motto is: Love God, Love People. They would love to be asked about their salvation story and where they grew up and went to school. Their heart language is ASL and most of them use that language. Some read lips but not very easily. They use text messages and Video Phone pretty much like Skype. They are just like the hearing except they can’t hear.
Testimony of Corey Brueggeman
The Deaf ministry goes far beyond knowing sign language and communicating with the Deaf. Ministries are a way to reach out and preach the Word of God. Upon joining the Deaf ministry, I myself believed it was simply going to their Sunday school class and helping the Deaf understand the Bible; however, this is not the case. It was not long before I realized the many ways in which our Deaf spread the word of God. The Deaf here at our church are on fire for the Lord. They are eager to plan for the Deaf events such as Easter and Christmas parties. They each have a list in mind of all of their Deaf friends who need to know the word or God. I was amazed to discover how many Deaf and hard-of-hearing didn't know about God or the gift of salvation. But, as amazing as our Deaf are, the most amazing part for me was realizing how much I don't know. Having grown up in church, I thought I had a lot of head knowledge such as knowing that Noah's ark was made of gopher wood or that there were more likely four or more wise men and not three; but, all of that suffered in comparison to what they taught me. No, being in Deaf Sunday School has not given me a longer list of "fun Bible fact." It gave me something of far greater value and that is a better understanding. Because the Deaf think in pictures, they must truly dig deeper to understand the context as to what is going on. They ask the little questions which actually turn out to be the big question—the questions that switch on the light bulb above our heads. What the Deaf have given me is a greater hunger for seeking God and His wisdom.