My Answers to Past Problems of Deaf Ministries
Problem 4: In a Fantastic Saturday in Denver, Colorado, Pastor Ed Nelson asked me, “Ted, is a Deaf ministry really worth it? It requires so much and the results are so few.” I told him to give me time to respond.
Solution: Dr. Nelson, you asked, “Is a Deaf ministry really worth it?” After much thought I feel you are asking the wrong person. Ask the Deaf people. Some have been eternally saved and will hear in Heaven. Your church may be the only church for them to attend. The church does more than just teaching, the church also provides good Christian fellowship which cannot be found in the world. Then ask the Lord. In Mark 7:32, the Lord was surrounded by a multitude, but “they” brought unto Him one that was Deaf. The Lord then took the Deaf man alone and put aside the multitude. At this time He was more concerned about the one deaf person than the multitude. He knew the value of one soul (Mark 8:36). The Lord privately gave attention to the one deaf person while the multitude had to wait. Once alone, the Lord let the deaf man know that He was aware of his deafness. The Lord touched his mouth (you cannot speak). He touched his ears (you cannot hear). Jesus actually used the sign for “Deaf” that is still used today. Jesus then pointed to Heaven to show that help comes from God. He then said, “Ephphatha,” be opened. The Deaf man was able to speak and hear. Ask him if it was worth it. The Deaf man was not only given hearing and speaking, but also a language. I wept when I first saw this and said, “Lord, if you are willing to put aside the multitude to just reach one deaf person, so will I.” A little boy saw many small fish washed ashore. He ran to throw one back into the ocean. The dad said, “There are too many to make a difference.” The boy said, “Well I can make a difference with this one.” For years I have given my life to make a difference with one more. Is a Deaf ministry really worth it? Ask Deaf people, ask the Lord, and one day ask the many Deaf in Heaven, “Was a Deaf ministry really worth it? Note: This is also true about other ministries that could be considered costly: van/bus ministries, children, disabled, shut-ins, and homeless. – TC
Problem 5: “Should a woman interpret in the church?” In early days this became a problem as some pastors, leaders, and members felt awkward seeing for the first time a woman standing and interpreting before the congregation. We recommended the deaf people sit in the front where they could see both the preacher and the interpreter (some in the past had deaf people sit in the balcony or in a side room with sound speaker).
Solution: Knowledge is good. The church needed to understand the role of an interpreter. First an interpreter (speaker does not pause) is not a translator (speaker pauses). Simply put the interpreter interprets thoughts (no pause) into the ASL. I explained that in the church service, Deaf people do not see the interpreter as a woman, man, speaker or preacher. They see the pastor through the interpreter. She becomes a telephone between two people. I then make this simple profound statement. The pastor says, “When I was a little boy…” The woman interpreter signs, “When I was a little boy…” Was she ever a little boy? It worked! Also you need to understand that when she interprets for a doctor or lawyer, she does not become a doctor or lawyer, and neither does she become a preacher. As knowledge grew the problem faded. The church should be able to minister to all within their community, including Deaf people.
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