Have you ever seen several thousand Deaf from multiple countries in one location? If you have, you are not quick to forget it! When I was 22 years old in the Summer of 2013 I had the opportunity to work as a Deaf Camp counselor at the Bill Rice Ranch and then go to the World Deaf Olympics in Bulgaria! Meeting the Silent Word Ministries International team members, traveling over to Bulgaria, and going to the opening ceremony are all deeply impressed on my mind. I can think of face after face of Deaf people I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with and have conversations with. So many countries were represented! I was able to visit with Deaf from countries ranging from Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, (see picture) Ukraine, Moldova, South Korea, and France…just to name a few. It was a challenge to find a way to express the concepts of the Gospel visually to Deaf with different sing languages. Some were much easier as they were similar to American Sign Language or part of the same language family, and some were so different that it felt nearly impossible… but I loved the challenge!
It would be hard to describe all of the emotions that one can experience on a good mission trip ranging from exhilaration to heartbreak. However, the feeling of being overwhelmed at the multitude of smart, motivated Deaf people from so many countries that had no clear Gospel witness tops the list of impacting emotions. It was a huge blessing to share the Gospel and hand out Gospel DVDs, and for the team to see several people make professions of faith - but to see the hundreds and hundreds that we didn’t reach and know that the majority have no opportunity to go to a church that would water the seeds planted is a burden that I still carry.
The burden of the 4th largest people group that is unreached with the Gospel is what drives Marie and me and what we try to share with churches. The Silent World needs laborers to intentionally reach the Deaf. This burden is why we are planning on moving to Romania and learn both Romanian and Romanian Sign Language. It’s why we then want to build relationships in the Deaf community, faithfully share the Gospel, and see a church established for the Deaf and their hearing friends and family. It’s why we want to train Deaf and hearing men for Gospel ministry as church planters and Deaf ministry workers. We are grateful for the ministry of deputation and the many opportunities we have had to share our heart for the Deaf and some of the elements that make reaching the Deaf unique. Thank you for being a part of it!
We are excited to be back on the road after a week and a half home the middle of September. We are presenting at churches in Pennsylvania, New York, Ohio, and Michigan this Fall. Please pray for safety as we travel, clarity in communicating our burden and passion, and for favor with churches. We are at 73% promised of our needed church support; we are closing in on the final quarter of our ministry of deputation! It has been an exciting and thrilling adventure, and we are excited to see what God will do in the months ahead!