Our church tried to make accommodations for Amy. I shared my concern about Amy and the deaf with our people and many of them understood the problem. Amy’s mother and a friend taught sign language, and several of the children took the classes and really tried to communicate with Amy. We had Marshall come and share his ministry with us. I took two free ASL classes at the local college, but when you aren’t around a deaf person all the time, it’s hard to approach proficiency. Anyway, about the time I finished my classes, Amy’s family moved away and we only saw her when she came to visit her grandmother.
Our church wanted to do something that would reach deaf people, but we ran against problems that are common to people who want to reach this community:
1. The deaf community is tight knit.
2. They are self-sufficient.
3. They have a hard time trusting the hearing community.
4. They don’t consider their affliction as a handicap, or even an affliction, and they don’t like being treated as handicapped.
5. They speak a foreign language called ASL, American Sign Language.
Families with deaf children have unique problems:
1. Nearly 95 percent of all deaf children have hearing parents.
2. Only about 10 percent of those parents ever learn enough sign language to hold a conversation with their children.
3. They have to make very difficult decisions concerning treatment and education. Right choices are not clear-cut. They are far reaching, and there’s a lot of conflicting advice.
What I would like my readers to do:
1. Please pray for this enormous, largely ignored unreached people group.
2. Educate yourself about the deaf community. A great first step is to visit the Silent Blessings website, silentblessings.org.
3. Check out the children’s television program that Silent Blessings produces, Dr. Wonder’sWorkshop. It’s an amazing tool God is using to teach deaf kids about Jesus. If you can’t find it on your TV listings, check out samples at silentblessings.org.
4. Give to folks who are on the mission to the deaf community, like Silent Blessings.
5. Consider having Marshall Lawrence come to share his burden for the deaf with your church, small group or club. He will open your eyes and touch your heart with this great ministry.