Our church is amazing in so many ways but one of the ways is our ministry to the deaf. We do not just have services "interpreted for the deaf" although our 9 am service IS interpreted for the deaf. We also have a deaf Sunday school, a deaf church, deaf fellowship and we also have run the Northeast Deaf Fellowship for numerous years now. The NDF is a week long summer program for the deaf with speakers, camp activities and such. We have deaf on our staff and have deaf small groups. It's so cool to be able to work with people of all sorts of abilities!
The deaf culture is a very interesting one and one that I had never understood. Did you know that the deaf do not see themselves as disabled and many if not most would not WANT to hear if they could? The deaf have their own way of doing things and oftentimes can kind of clash with regular American culture. But they are lovely, caring people who still need Jesus Christ and that is our purpose for our ministry. To introduce the deaf of Long Island to their Savior and show them their need of Him. I thank God for those in our ministry who work so hard with sometimes very little in return yet they continue day after day. Cindy, Antonio, Roz, Shelly and Kerri are just some of the people who work with the deaf at our church.
Well, Cindy and Roz, who are hearing and Antonio, who is deaf are teaching a sign language class on Saturday mornings. I love this class and it's so fun to start learning not only how to do a few signs but how to use American Sign Language which is a full language all it's own and to also learn about the deaf culture. ASL is just like French, Spanish or German with it's own rules, syntax in sentences and such. Instead of asking "How many books have you read?", you would ask "books you read how many?" So it's actually quite difficult to interpret because you're trying to figure out the right way to put the sentence together. But today I was able to tell Antonio that Robby was sick and he wouldn't be coming today and have him understand me! :D
As I've written before, we will be planting a new church in September about 40 minutes from here and it's turning out that most involved in our deaf ministry actually come from that area! I was talking with the head of the deaf ministry and it's becoming a possibility that the deaf church might go with the church plant within the next few years! Maybe that's why God has placed it on my heart to learn ASL - so I can show the deaf how important they are to the new church as well as our home church. It really shows the deaf how important they are and how much we care about the deaf when we learn their language. They are so patient with newbies but are touched when we step into their lives and now it's seeming like God is planning something new with them. I just praise God for all that He's done and all He's going to do in the future. We serve a most wonderful, amazing, glorious God!
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