If we begin to think of Deaf Ministry as we do foreign missions and realize that we must learn the language and customs of the natives, then we will be equipped to make a true impact.

Why you should care about deaf ministry

By William Ross, Faculty

In the United States, only three percent of Deaf people have been reached with the good news of Christ. Deaf people are one of the largest unreached people groups in the United States, and there are very few schools offering training for those called into Deaf ministry.

There are approximately 250 million deaf people in the world. If all of the Deaf people lived in one place they would be the fourth largest people group in the world. How can we begin to resolve this problem? By changing how people view ministry to Deaf people.

If we begin to think of Deaf Ministry as we do foreign missions and realize that we must learn the language and customs of the natives, then we will be equipped to make a true impact.

A global community

 When we speak about Deaf people around the world, it typically encompasses people classified as culturally Deaf—those who are deaf from birth or became Deaf early in life. Estimates of the number of culturally Deaf people worldwide range from 18 to 36 million.

While they are ethnically diverse, they share a common linguistic bond. Sign language is at the core of their lives. Apart from sign language, they remain isolated from others among whom they live. Much of the cultural identity shared by the Deaf arises from their shared experience of discrimination, isolation and much of this discrimination is traced back to a lack of education.

In developing countries, most Deaf people do not have access to education. Globally, only about 1-2% of the Deaf receive formal education using sign language as the language of instruction. Regardless of their ethnic background, cultural and linguistic factors serve to unite the global Deaf as a unique affinity group.

Though each country has its own sign language that is unique to that country, Deaf people have much easier time communicating with other Deaf people from other countries due to the visual nature of their language.

Why Deaf ministry matters

In the United States, only 3.2 percent of all Deaf people have been evangelized to. What do we do about the other 96-97 percent of Deaf people who do not know Jesus?

We know that “Everyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved.” But how can they call on him to save them unless they believe in him? And how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him? And how can they hear about him unless someone tells them? And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent?

That is why the Scriptures say, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!” Romans 10:13-15. Verse 14 says, “…how can they believe in him if they have never heard about him?” There is double meaning of the word ‘heard’ as it relates to the Deaf community.

Though they have never physically heard about Him, rarely is the Gospel presented in a clear, meaningful and accessible way so that they can truly “HEAR” about Him. So that question is, can we bring the Gospel to Deaf people? Can we render the message of the Gospel in the language and culture of the Deaf community so they can meet Jesus?

Christians cannot let Deafness be the reason that these people are separated from God. The Scripture says, “How beautiful are the feet of messengers who bring good news!”

Deaf ministry in action

Deaf ministry takes two primary formats:

  1. Interpreted services
  2. Indigenous churches

There is so much more to church than just listening to the sermon, sweet fellowship, worship, praying at the altar with a fellow believer, and the general interaction between believers.

If someone can’t hear you, they may be unable to participate in those things unless the church body knows how to sign.

It all comes back to language, American Sign Language. Consider learning ASL so that you can share this fellowship and share the Gospel with the Deaf community. “How beautiful are the hands of messengers who bring good news!”

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