At the time of this article, COVID-19 is growing. Many people have been forced to start social distancing. Even though people can communicate through texting, emails, and phones, people feel alone and desire to talk with a person face to face. If you have ever visited a church that uses a language you do not know, you may have felt isolated and without understanding. Deaf people can feel alone in a crowd They can feel socially distant even in their own church.
Hearing people talk fast and we “hearing” preachers often preach faster than we normally talk. Interpreters try their best, but often feel inadequate interpreting Bible verses and spiritual comparisons.
When I preach to hearing people and my wife, Diane, interprets, she often tells me that my message was hard to interpret. But when preaching to Deaf people, they tell me my preaching is clear (hopefully most of the time – smile). Deaf pastors can design their message to be more easily understood by Deaf people. They can take more time to explain complicated ideas and make Bible verses more clear.
In a deaf church, Deaf people do not need an interpreter to talk with their friends. For example, in the same way hearing people overhear a conversation, Deaf people can look across the aisle and see what is being said by their friends. Social distancing goes away and clear communication becomes normal.
Hearing people can listen to the preacher and see their Bibles at the same time. But Deaf people listen with their eyes. When they look at their Bibles, the preacher must pause. In a Deaf church, the service or Sunday School lesson can be presented more slowly, so everyone can see what needs to be seen. Using a Deaf person’s signed language, a Deaf pastor can advise or teach them, with no need to wait for an interpreter.
Deaf churches can also minister to hearing people. Most Deaf people have hearing family members who also need a church. A voice interpreter can help.
Qualified Deaf pastors are needed. Deaf churches are still needed in many areas. Has God called you to work with the Deaf? Contact SWM for more information and help! – To contact Jon, click here.