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From Dinosaurs to Genesis (Part I) …

image1The Rise of a Deaf Community’s pursuit of God’s Truth!

The first gatherings on Sundays of Deaf youth and adults from all around the city  were reminiscent of first century churches in the Bible.  A small house with a small living area filled with chatting hands and curious hearts.  People were packed inside and heads plastered to the open window slats outside for a look in.  Thoughts must have swirled around in their heads like “What is this Bible book all about?  Who is this Jesus?  Does God really love me … a Deaf Honduran?”

On any given Sunday during those days, “teaching the Word” was hit and miss.  Many times, a volunteer from those who attended that day would spontaneously stand up to share a few words in a message-like format.  I learned quickly these messages were not prepared nor were they particularly Biblically sound.  In fact, sometimes, they were a distorted experiential sharing by someone whose heart yearned for Christ but who had no foundation in His Word.

Today was such a day. It was a Sunday morning on October 10, 1999, my first day living in Honduras having arrived less than 24 hours beforehand to begin serving as a full-time missionary within the Deaf community.  The gathering was to start at 10 a.m.  By 10:45 a.m., sixty or so Deaf people were enjoying the fellowship of one another when one young Deaf lady stood up and announced she had a “story” to share with everyone.  Each person shuffled themselves around into a seat.  When these filled up, others lined themselves up against the side and back walls.  And still others looked in through the windows (a benefit of using sign language!).

The young lady boldly, and yet with a certain reverence to the Lord, began with a sweet prayer and then began her “message”.  This is a pretty good interpretation from her signed story to English of how it went:

Young woman: Do you know why there are no dinosaurs on earth today? 

Audience: (turned to one another as if searching for the right answer).  “We don’t know,” the audience answered.

Young woman: When Noah was building the ark, he invited all the animals to get on the ark.  So, the dinosaurs showed up and wanted on the ark.  But Noah said “NO! You can’t come on the ark.  You are too big and you will eat the other animals.”   And THAT’s why there are no dinosaurs on earth today!

Audience: (nodding with pleasure at the new “knowledge” they have just gained)

Young woman: Let us close in prayer.

Yup, that was the beginning of an even stronger stirring that ran far and deep within me … Deaf Christian leadership … Deaf reaching Deaf.  That woman, so incredibly distorted in her knowledge and understanding of God and His Word, had such a heart for the Lord.  She wanted to know and serve her Savior.  She already had what it would take, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, even if on the most basic level.  She just needed some tools and discipleship … but not just any discipleship, she and other potential Deaf leaders needed this training up in the Lord on their terms, in their language, in their mode of communication, applied to their experiences and challenges.

This would not be an easy task.  Resources for this population were non-existent.  Few people, Deaf or hearing, had both knowledge of the Word of God and communication skills in Honduran Sign Language.  Education for Deaf Hondurans was severely lacking which made learning and organizing thoughts a struggle.  Parents were reluctant to allow their Deaf teens to attend meetings and travel about in the city.

Questions swirled around my head during those first days and weeks.  How can we bring potential Deaf Christian leaders together?  What would it look like?  How would discipleship occur without a Bible in their own language and without materials?  Could a minimally educated group of Deaf Hondurans really grow in the Lord enough to lead their own community to Christ???  (Just in case you never read Part II … the answer is YES!)

One thing I did know … my God was certainly capable of the task ahead.   First we needed to identify who these potential Christian Deaf leaders would be.  It went something like this:

Me: Hey, do you love Jesus with all your heart?

Deaf Honduran:  Yes, I love Him.  I really do.

Me: Do you want to learn more about Jesus?

Deaf Honduran:  Oh yes, I want to learn everything about Him.

Me: Do you want to come to a meeting on Saturday and eat pizza???

Yup, that’s how it began.  Stay tuned for Part II where I share how that very first meeting went and how in the city of Tegucigalpa, Honduras and beyond, Deaf are reaching Deaf for Christ today.

You Might be a Missionary if …

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I’ve been on the mission field for almost eighteen years.  Believe me, it changes you.  In lots and lots of good ways.  Sometimes, it changes you in not so good ways.  God’s grace is needed each and every day for sure.  But it’s not all serious.  There are some funny things, thought processes and new […]

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A Day in the Life of a Missionary in Honduras

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Lately, I have been sifting through old writings, stories, and articles I have written during my time on the mission field in Honduras.  I’ve decided to re-share some of them here on my LiliArte site/blog, mostly as a way for me to archive those who hold a special place in my heart.   Originally written […]

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