The Deaf ministry has changed very much since 1976, when I began learning sign language. In the ’70’s it seems there was an emphasis on ministry. Hearing people learned sign language to communicate with Deaf people, teach the Bible, and be a friend to the Deaf. In the ’80’s many began backing away from the deaf ministry. In the ’90’s there was a renewed interest in sign language, this time with an emphasis on professionalism. In the 2000’s technology began to add more interest and help into the Deaf world – video phones, email, texting, etc. Deaf culture has become very visible. In the late 2000’s and now the ’10’s, there is an emphasis on professional interpreting, Deaf culture, and interpreter certification.
Professionalism, improved ASL skills, interpreter certification, etc., are needed. However, it is important to realize that there is still a great need for the deaf ministry. Hearing people who are in Christ and who know signs have a responsibility to use their skills for the Lord. Consider these suggestions:
- Invest time with Deaf people you meet. Get to know them. Become a friend to them and let them be your friend.
- Listen to Deaf people. Learn their way of thinking.
- Consider ways to take the Good News to their culture?
- Help with spiritual needs to the level you are qualified.
- Give your life and hands to something that will outlive you.
You may be thinking this article has nothing to do with sign language. But one of the best ways to learn ASL and Deaf culture is to get involved in the deaf ministry and continually learn and improve. Summary: Keep the professionalism – Revive the ministry – Make a difference! – Signing Off