DOES GOD UNDERSTAND SIGN LANGUAGE?
This was a question one of IDEA’s high school deaf students recently asked.
The deaf children want and need to know that they have a Heavenly Father who understands them and loves them. They need to know that God did not make a mistake when he made them but that they are special.
IDEA strives to help the Deaf understand who God is and His plan for their lives. We teach them that God understands their thoughts and hearts so they don’t even need to worry about language. We want them to know that they can talk to Him any time through prayer.
The deaf children and young adults learn about God through the life and teachings of Jesus Christ.
HOW DO WE SHARE JESUS WITH THE DEAF?
It takes years and years of academic education for the Deaf to understand the written word (Bible). This means that even the simplest Bible stories can’t be shared by simply sitting down with a group young children and reading to them.
The most effective method to share with the elementary school kids seems to be through the use of flannel Graphs. In today’s world this is considered to be an antique way. None the less it works.
For those unfamiliar with this technique, characters, objects, building, trees, and etc. are beautifully printed on paper with a kind of fabric backing. They are individually cut out. Backgrounds are painted on large pieces of flannel which the cutout pictures will easily stick to making a complete scene. Our teachers are given the materials needed as well as the curriculum to follow. Because of the deafness, our students are language delayed so the stories can be adjusted to every level.
AT THE HIGH SCHOOL LEVEL
Bohol Deaf Academy is our private high school located in Tagbilaran City, Bohol. The deaf kids who reach this grade have come far enough in language development to be able to read and understand. Bible class is incorporated into the curriculum of the school. In addition, every Wednesday night is Bible study night. Attendance is not mandatory but most of the students like to go. Mostly this program is run by young deaf adults.
OTHER BIBLE STUDIES
Each week there are numbers of Bible studies happening around Tagbilaran City for the Deaf and IDEA employees. These studies are set up for married couples and adult singles. Women from the Fly Tie Industry gather every Thursday evening while the ladies at the IDEA Admin Office as well as a group of men from the construction shop have their Bible study on Friday evenings. IDEA Philippines supports attending church or Bible studies by providing free transportation.
Deaf students and adults are free to attend the church of their choice. IDEA is not promoting a religion but instead sharing the life of Jesus with the kids in hope that they will incorporate his life example into their way of living. IDEA Philippines has helped establish a non-denominational Deaf Church where the pastor is himself deaf. Again, this is a totally free choice to attend.
Watch this video of the Deaf in Tiptip Deaf Church
A number of young deaf adults have formed several spiritual outreach teams. Once a month these groups from Tagbilaran City takes the message of Jesus to the elementary deaf school in the different towns. These teams use dramas and skits to get their stories across. They also just spend time with the children playing games and making crafts. These are a kind of “mini camp”. The students love them.
Once the students or adults reach a level of understanding the written word, they are able to have a Bible. The version that is most effective for them is the “Good News Bibles” in easy English.