In the midst of pandemic and unrest in the world, God is still working. Although most Silent Word Ministries area-wide meetings have been canceled this year, the Home Office has been quite productive. We’ve had some new volunteers recently. One is a teen girl named Leah, who can sign a little and is interested in being around Deaf people to learn more. Leah is homeschooled, which allows her to help with things like sending letters, stamping books for the SWM library, cleaning, and more. She is a hard worker and a big help to me. This gives me more time to focus on website promotions and responding to calls, chats, and video phone (VP) calls. VP is similar to Skype or FaceTime. Deaf people use it to call. When someone calls, a light flashes in the office.
Although we always strive for clear communication, successful communication can sometimes be challenging. Recently, a Deaf lady contacted us on Facebook to place an order. She asked me to call her. When I asked for her “number” (thinking phone), she sent her credit card number!
Recently, God allowed me to experience what Deaf people often do. A Deaf woman called the office on the video phone. She signed a bit fast and her room was a little dark, so it was hard for me to understand her. Frustrated, she signed that she felt the conversation was going over my head, and it was not worth explaining to me. Then she hung up. My first reaction was to feel discouraged that I did not understand and hurt that she was not more patient. But God reminded me that Deaf people often feel that way. When Deaf people are with hearing people and want to be included in conversation, they are often told, “Oh, it’s not important. I’ll tell you later,” because it is too much trouble to include them. Sometimes in stores or restaurants, workers become angry when they have to write back and forth with Deaf people because it takes too long. We, as hearing people, need to remember that Deaf people are important. We should never be too busy to be kind.
But communication can also be very rewarding. Moses, a hearing man from Kenya, contacted SWM through Facebook Messenger. He has two young daughters with hearing loss, and he wanted to learn to communicate with them. This was unusual because Deaf people in foreign countries are often ignored or treated as servants. I contacted a missionary from BIMI who helped me contact a missionary to deaf in Kenya. That missionary sent me 7 YouTube videos teaching Kenyan signs! God used two mission boards, three missionaries, and 4 types of social media to provide sign language assistance for two hard-of-hearing children in Africa! It’s a blessing when God’s people work together as a team!
A prisoner from California called us. He became deaf later in life, so he spoke with his voice, but had to read my response typed out through a relay operator. He had seen a picture of a Bible verse typed in an ASL fingerspelling font in the “Silent Word” newspaper and asked if we would send him several verses to use with other prisoners who were learning sign language. SWM missionary Donna Condra typed up several verses which we sent. He was very grateful.
In this pandemic, many people are experiencing the isolation that Deaf people experience all the time. People are encouraged to “social distance.” Even many churches are meeting online only. What if someone has no computer or internet? What if they can’t hear and there are no captions or interpreters? Deaf people cannot choose any church they want if there is no interpreter. They cannot listen to Christian radio. Many do not even have family who can communicate to them about God. They are “isolated from the Gospel.” Thank you for supporting and praying for me to help the Deaf “hear” the Gospel!
- God gave me 2 new supporters in recent months!