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The global Deaf population is the fourth-largest nation in the world

The global Deaf population is the fourth-largest nation in the world

Larry Evans with a Deaf Community

Bern, Switzerland [Larry Evans; CD EUDNews]. Estimates of the number of Deaf in the world are difficult to substantiate. Reports range from 93 million to more than 300 million, although it’s likely that those termed “hard of hearing” are being included. A

March 27, 2013 | Larry Evans, Associate Director in the Stewardship Dep. of the GC; CD EUDNews;

Bern, Switzerland [Larry Evans; CD EUDNews]. Estimates of the number of Deaf in the world are difficult to substantiate. Reports range from 93 million to more than 300 million, although it’s likely that those termed “hard of hearing” are being included. According to Deaf World Ministries, if the Deaf “were gathered together in one place they would comprise the fourth-largest nation in the world.”Suffice it to say, there’s a large international population of Deaf. Because they have difficulty communicating with the hearing world, few of us realize what a vast mission field they represent.

It’s estimated that only 2 percent of those within the Deaf culture are Christian. To compound the challenge of sharing the gospel message with them, there is no single commonly used sign language. Within some countries, multiple sign language dialects are used. Recent research by D.O.O.R. (Deaf Outreach Organization) concluded that nearly 400 identifiable deaf languages exist worldwide, for which only 40 have a Bible translation in some visual form. That alone should cause us to pause and consider the urgency to reach out to this distinct people group.
 
Unlike some people groups, the Deaf are not gathered in specific geographic areas. Instead, they’re embedded within the general population and often connecting with them is difficult. One of the greatest challenges, however, hangs on the misunderstandings of who the Deaf are.

As paradoxical as it may seem, having blind, deaf, and hurting individuals among us are all important ingredients for the body of Christ if it is to become whole, and reminders that no part of the body is dispensable (see 1 Cor. 12:22, 23). They provide the opportunity for the true character of the church to reveal itself.
 
Ellen White emphasized this point when she wrote, “It is in the providence of God that … the blind, the deaf, the lame … have been placed in close Christian relationship to His church.… This is God’s test of our character.”

The ways we relate to one another in this world of diversity speak volumes about who we are as individuals and as a church. In bold contrast to the conventional wisdom and practices of the world, the church must stand as a beacon of hope demonstrating that the value of a person begins with the heart. The prevailing question that every part of the body of Christ must ask is: “Do we hear them?” If so, how will we respond?

The Deaf Ministry in the EUD Region (France)

In 2008 a team of volunteers began a service for Deaf people in France. Their approach is based on respect for Deaf people and on their right to knowledge. This value is based on the Christian motivation that drives the entire team. All exchanges are adapted to their mode of communication: “simple French” and “French Sign Language” (FSL).

The main goal is to help Deaf people in their physical, psychological and spiritual needs: moral support, health advice, wedding preparation, translation of meetings and religious or funeral services etc. Video equipment and tools are available. The french Team organizes thematic meetings where Deaf and hearing people have the opportunity to meet and exchange (Christians cafés in FSL). The aim is to share a message of hope with them. This is an opportunity to discover and enrich ourselves with their qualities and their specific Deaf culture.

The french deaf ministry team organizes several activities, such as Bible studies, Health Expos, European meetings, spiritual retreats, outreach programs. A major event has been organized in June 2013, at a european level. To learn more about this ministry and the upcoming event, visit the web page www.signesdesperance.org.

To lear more anout this ministry in the EUD region, please visit the following Adventist Deaf Ministries Web Site: http://sta-gehoerlosengemeinschaft.adventist.eu/ (Germany)

picture: Larry Evans, Associate Director in the General Conference Stewardship Department and liaison to the church’s International Deaf Ministries;

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