The Folling post is taken from Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries
Here are some additional reasons why Deaf ministry is so hard:
Deaf people are invisible to most hearing people. Deaf people are just not on the radar of most hearing people. They know Deaf people exist, but they have given little or no thought to how very different their lives must be. Consequently they make false assumptions about how much access Deaf really have to the world. They ASSUME most parents of Deaf children will learn how to communicate in sign language. (The truth: 80% of Deaf kids grow up in families where sign language is not used in the home.) They ASSUME religious instruction is carried on by the parents or the churches, but we’ve already shared that this is really rare for Deaf kids.
Hearing people believe that Deaf children can now be “cured” by cochlear implants and improvements in hearing aid technologies. This is NOT true. There is no “cure” for deafness. Indeed, the surgery required to implant the cochlear devices actually destroys any residual hearing the person may have. I’m going to address the cochlear implant in more depth in a future blog, but for now let me say I am NOT totally against these devices. They certainly have their place and they have been a blessing to many! But it is vital that you understand that the “hearing” offered by these devices is VERY different from what we would consider natural human hearing. The depth, the breadth, the power, the dynamic range, the rejection of unwanted sound elements — all of which the human ear working in tandem with the human brain can deliver — these elements are just not present for those who use the implants. There is NO “cure” for deafness and, despite what the surgeons will tell you, when a deaf child is forced to rely ONLY on the implants and is not permitted to learn and use sign language, that child is almost certainly destined to struggle more with language comprehension and is far more likely to live a lonely and socially isolated life than is a child who learns to sign at a young age.
There is a real shortage of well trained ASL users in North American churches. Most church interpreters are poorly trained volunteers who may have a heart of gold, but do not have the skills needed to clearly communicate important spiritual truths in sign language. Others (and I know this is going to sound very harsh but it is far more prevalent than you would imagine) are motivated by the emotional kick they receive by being in such a conspicuous position of benevolent leadership to these “poor pitiful disabled people” and fail to exhibit the winsome spirit of true Christlike servanthood. Such people often turn off the Deaf who may attend for a short time. Even if they have excellent skills and a true servant’s heart, they may be thwarted by pastors, worship leaders, or others who see the addition of sign language as a complication and a detriment to the worship experience of the hearing majority. I could tell you stories that would curl your hair!!
There is a lack of Deaf Christian leadership and a great need for more Deaf led churches. Just as English speaking hearing people can get so much more out of the experience worshiping in a congregation where nearly everyone can communicate freely in English, many Deaf people prefer to worship in a place where American Sign Language is the native language of the congregants. But Deaf churches (or separate Deaf worship services and small group opportunities) are still rare, and those that do exist are almost always found in larger communities — often towns with a residential Deaf school nearby. Thus, the most effective model for evangelism and discipleship for Deaf people is just unavailable to the vast majority of Deaf people in North America – especially Deaf kids.
These are the big challenges that make Deaf ministry so hard. Organizations like Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries are looking every day at ways we can help create new opportunities for Deaf people to come into life changing encounter with the precious Son of God. We have some exciting initiatives that are making a difference right now! And with your help we can do even more.