“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.”
Every Sunday, a pastor would greet his members as they left the sanctuary. He would answer their questions about how he was doing with short, factual responses. One Sunday, he thought he would conduct an experiment to determine how well his parishioners were listening during and after the worship service. So, instead of giving his typical answers, he decided to respond with something different. As the members greeted him with “How are you doing, Pastor?” he smiled and said, “I sold my children into slavery last night.” Many people smiled back and said “That’s nice, I’m glad to hear that” or “Keep up the good work, Pastor.” One woman even responded “Well, they must have deserved it.”
Listening and hearing are so often taken for granted by those who are able to hear. When an individual’s ability to hear becomes difficult, the reality of listening becomes complicated, leading to frustration and anxiety, even isolation. For the Deaf, hearing comes through their eyes instead of their ears. With the use of American Sign Language (ASL), the Deaf achieve communication through a language that is received through gestures.
Paul, in his epistle to the Romans, reminds us that “Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ.” (10:17) At Lutheran Friends of the Deaf, our mission is to enhance the life of people who are Deaf through Christ. One way we strive to accomplish this mission is through the development and dissemination of materials and resources, such as our unique Bible Story Books for children, which combine written language, expressive artwork and illustrated sign language. The 12 books in the series (currently, five are available in English, with two Chinese translations) are geared toward Deaf and hearing children alike, their main purpose being to teach all children about Jesus. These books are a valuable resource in a variety of family and educational settings, whether a family consists of hearing and Deaf members, or a Sunday school class of hearing and Deaf students.
Very simply, a person cannot have faith without hearing the saving message of Jesus Christ. In a nation where it is estimated that 95 to 98% of the Deaf are un-churched, Jesus challenges us to “go… and make disciples of all nations,” not only here at home, but throughout the world. With that in mind, all 12 Bible Story Books will eventually be translated into other written and sign languages, such as Russian, Spanish and Chinese.
We pray that you join us in our mission. Will you include us in your prayers? Please pray for God’s continued blessing upon us, that we may continue bringing His saving message of love to the Deaf in the beauty that is American Sign Language. And, if you are able, please donate to Lutheran Friends of the Deaf. Know that your tax-deductible gift will be used to produce the resources that enable the message of Christ to be heard.