From across the crowded room, she tried to get my attention. The frustration shone on her distressed face as she waved her hands over her head and mouthed words I couldn’t hear. Desperation took over as she struggled to get past the crowd. But no matter how hard she pushed, they pushed back, too preoccupied to notice her.
Misunderstood, frustrated and desperate for someone to notice. Surrounded by a crowd that passes by without as much as a glance. Never fully fitting in because communication is hard at best. This is how it feels to be deaf in a world full of people who can hear.
To be unsaved and deaf is even worse. Because according to Wycliffe Bible Translators, only two percent of deaf people worldwide have “heard” the gospel of Jesus. Making the deaf the most unreached group of people out there!
That’s a startling statistic! But here is another one that hits closer to home. Estimates are less than 20 percent of deaf people in the United States attend church. Why? Because most churches in America do not offer the services of a deaf interpreter.
It’s easy for us, the hearing, to forget that deaf people need Jesus too. It’s not that we don’t care, we do. We want everyone to know Jesus as their Savior. But we assumed there were already programs in churches for the deaf to learn about Jesus. How were we to know only a small portion of churches have deaf interpreters? And how could we know there was a need for outreach to the deaf community? We didn’t. Until now.
You may wonder, “Why can’t deaf people just read the Bible to find out about Jesus?” That’s a good question with a simple answer.
Think back to when you first learnt about Jesus. A friend or Sunday School teacher taught you about the Word of God. They shared with you what salvation in Jesus means and the process of how to be saved. They spent time answering your questions and explaining the gospel. Maybe they even knelt and prayed with you about it. Whatever they did to explain the truth of who Jesus is, I’m sure it was in a language you understood.
Deaf people need that same compassion and time spent. They need someone to tell them about the goodness of Jesus and His saving grace in a language they can understand, sign language.
But just because you don’t know sign language doesn’t mean you can’t chip away at that sad 2% number. Here are 4 ways you can outreach to the deaf community with the gospel…
4 Ways You Can Outreach to the Deaf Community with the Gospel
#1 Be Willing to Communicate with Them
It’s okay if you don’t know how to sign, there are other ways to communicate with a deaf person. The majority of the deaf can read lips, but if they can’t, don’t worry, you can write notes back and forth on whatever scrap of paper you find or pull out your phone and use the text function.
Most deaf people feel like they don’t fit in. They are either looked down on or ignored all together. If you will acknowledge them and talk to them like you would anyone else, they will appreciate that kindness.
Remember, Jesus is personal. So, have an open heart and be willing to communicate with someone who is deaf on a personal level. It’s about making them feel accepted because Jesus accepts them as they are. “Therefore, accept one another, just as Christ also accepted us to the glory of God.” Romans 15:7
#2 Pray For Them
Prayer is powerful! And has the power to change everything! It is the answer to every problem we face, our greatest defense in times of need, and our most precious asset in a world that doesn’t understand who Jesus is.
Jesus said in Matthew 18:20 “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Now is the time gather your friends, family, and neighbors around and pray, not just for the deaf who are not saved but for everyone you know who isn’t. Jesus is there, and He is listening.
#3 Tell Them About the Love of Jesus
We all want to be loved. And we all want to know we matter. Deaf people are no different and they need to know Jesus loves them. But how will they know if we don’t tell them?
The Great Commission of Christ tells us this… “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations” Matthew 28:19
I get it, it’s hard to share your faith and even harder when there is a language barrier. But our job as Christians is to spread the gospel to every person who needs it, and this includes the deaf. We can’t assume someone else will do it for us. So, go ahead, tell them about the love of Jesus. The Holy Spirit will do the rest.
#4 Give to Deaf Charities
Maybe you will never meet someone who is deaf, and you might not have an opportunity to travel to a foreign land as a missionary. But you can make a difference in the life of someone who needs to “hear” about Jesus. “For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more.” Luke 12:48
God has blessed us with so much! In return, He asks us to give of ourselves for His glory and Kingdom. Whether it’s our time, money or another resource, we all have something to give. With that in mind, here are a few of the many deaf charities to pray about giving to…
Deaf Bible Society
In the United States, we tend to think American Sign Language is the only sign language there is. But there are hundreds of forms of sign language. And there is a need to translate the Bible into as many as possible. That’s exactly what they do at Deaf Bible Society every day!
The goal of DOOR International is deaf-led church planting. They are actively translating the Bible into sign language and training deaf believers to evangelize the lost within deaf communities worldwide.
A Local Church with a Deaf Program
The deaf will travel a long way to get to a church with a sign language interpreter. Because, honestly, they don’t have many options out there. So, if a local church in your area has a deaf program, please consider donating to them. These churches are usually short on funds and long on need.
Now it’s Time to ‘Go’
Now that we know there is a need for outreach within this overlooked community, we can make a real difference!
Will you join me in this effort to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to the deaf? I hope so. And I pray you will be blessed for it.
Connie Rowland is a Christian artist and blogger. Her artwork, Master’s Hand Collection depicts God’s hand in our lives through sign language. Each picture combines the beauty of nature with an inspirational word spelled out in American Sign Language and a corresponding Bible verse. Connect with her at mastershandcollection.com. While you’re there, learn the American Sign Language alphabet with your free copy of “Signs of Faith”.