Deaf Bible study

An American team of deaf Christians visited in April, and this Sunday was our follow-up for any deaf who were interested in studying the Bible. Would anyone come?

We were nervous. After two years of studying Portuguese Sign Language, we can have basic conversations with the deaf here. Teaching the Bible is another story . . . especially when the deaf themselves don’t have signs for basic Bible terms like “pastor” or “sin”. We often use the back-door approach of giving examples of what we mean, and then letting the deaf develop their own signs for the terms. It’s a lengthy process, and one we do not take lightly. This Bible study could be foundational to a deaf ministry in Portugal. “Please, Lord,” we prayed, “do Your work, and don’t let us mess it up.”

Soon, a van pulled up. They were here — five deaf people, plus a hearing child! Through a combination of Portuguese Sign Language and drawings, the deaf asked questions, shared their viewpoints, and saw what the Bible said. Some of their questions were deep and interesting, such as what God looks like or how the world held together on Day 2 when there was only water. Some of the teaching was basic. For example, no one had ever taught them how to look up references in the Bible. We drew a map, and compared the book to the street name, the chapter to the building, and the verse to the apartment number. You could see the “light bulb” turn on through their expressions. They developed their own signs to use for “book of the Bible”, “chapter”, and “verse”.  They wanted to come up with a sign for “Genesis” too, but decided to wait until they had studied the entire book.

In the end, we asked them to sign the story on video to preserve it and share it with other deaf people. One of them said, “I don’t think the Bible stories have been recorded in Portuguese Sign Language before.” We all paused a moment, realizing the importance of what was taking place. When the night ended, they asked if they could take home their drawings and work on the video more to perfect it. (Of course!) 🙂 What a thrilling answer to prayer! We hope these studies will continue on a regular basis; that this entire group will be saved; and that God will use them to reach more deaf people for Him.

Women Scare Me to Death

By: Sarah

Women scare me to death. Let me teach children or share my testimony before 1,000 people. No problem. But place me in front of a dozen ranging females, and my legs get wobbly.

Could it have something to do with the outrageous expectations of modern-day women’s meetings? It seems the formula is as follows:

1) Find a dynamic speaker who makes us laugh and cry while we draw closer to the Lord.

2) Coordinate the food, music, decorations, games, prizes and crafts around a cute theme.

3) Designate responsibilities for each area, letting everyone give her input and be involved.

4) Invite ladies and ask them to bring their unsaved friends.

5) Add a dash of prayer so that God will bless it.

As a rookie at coordinating ladies’ Bible studies, I am learning how all this works . . . and doesn’t work.

You see, for our meeting in March, many things fell through at the last minute. Our music and craft leaders both decided they weren’t coming . . . and didn’t tell me . . . and I found out through the grapevine the day before the meeting. Thankfully, I had an extra craft on hand, and we sang a capella. There were some unpleasant surprises the day of the meeting too, but I viewed it as a learning experience, and vowed to do better the next time.

I started with prayer. Then came the idea. Another missionary knew a nursing home resident in our town. We could visit her! “Service and Encouragement” would be our theme. We would make cards! We would be challenged with a message! As the sun shone overhead and the birds sang, we would walk to the nursing home, brimming with joy as we put our theme into action! IT WOULD BE GLORIOUS!!!

So, maybe I was too excited about revolutionizing our ladies’ meeting, but I got on the stick. I prayed and prayed and prayed. Not the “Please bless this meeting” variety, but the literally-on-my-face version as I asked God about each detail. I invited ladies online and in person. Most didn’t reply, and some had prior commitments, but several agreed to come and to invite others. After putting our baby to bed at night, I stayed up late crafting homemade cards to use as examples. A couple weeks before the meeting, the lady at the nursing home said she wasn’t going to be up to visitors after all. We checked into visiting other nursing homes, but to no avail. I kept praying, “Lord, please do what You want with this meeting. What should we do?” We decided to continue with the craft and message, but then have a small fellowship time at the end. This little change wouldn’t deter us. God had a plan!

The day before the meeting, we cleaned our house, rearranged the furniture, put down tablecloths, hung decorations, and bought more craft supplies. A few more ladies informed me they had been called in to work and couldn’t come after all. We were dwindling like Gideon’s army, but that still left 6 or more of us. We prayed for God to lead while we pressed on. Another ministry commitment kept our family out until midnight, but I finished frosting brownies at a quarter to one in the morning, and we were ready!

T minus 4 hours: the phone started firing off another round of cancellations. When the smoke had cleared, the only people still coming were the speaker and I. As much as I would have loved her message, and as much as she might have loved my brownies, we weren’t up to a one-on-one shindig. We postponed the meeting.

So what went wrong? I looked at my empty chairs (which made me sad) and my pan of brownies that we now had to eat ourselves (which didn’t make me sad), and I felt peace. I had prayed more about this meeting than any other. I am my hardest critic, but, for once, I had nothing bad to say to myself. I looked around and said, “God, here are the chairs, the food, the craft, and my house ready for this. All that was left was to plug in the glue gun. I did all I could do.”

God had a reason. Maybe it was to work in me. Maybe it was to work in someone else. Maybe I’ll never know. Since then, I’ve done the only thing I know to do — keep praying and keep working. Women still scare me, but I’m trusting God to fill my empty chairs and save their empty souls in His perfect time.

Visit from parents

Happy grandparents and grandbaby

This past week, my parents were able to visit us for a few days. We had a great time together, and Laura especially enjoyed lots of time with Nana and Papa.

On Friday, our Bible study went well. We had two new visitors which was very encouraging.

On Sunday, May 20th, we will be having our first deaf Bible study. Please pray that there will be some deaf that show up.