These photos were taken two weeks ago. This is pretty much who is in our group on a regular basis (except Sherwin and Kristel are both missing and they are almost always at church). I thank God for these friends and faithful people. Sometimes the journey has been rough, maybe even tumultuous, but we're blessed with a peaceful period right now.
They used to come to church to socialize with other deaf people. That's always a big draw...even more than food. We who are Deaf need to be with others who understand us, know us, and can communicate with us no matter what age they are. The difference in the past few months is now they are also coming to learn.
If there were some kind of developmental research to explain how deaf people grow through stages in church membership, I think it would look like:
2.) wanting to be with other people who are deaf so badly that they will sit through the preaching and music, sleeping possibly and daydreaming certainly, reluctant to participate or share. They are just waiting for it to be over so they can visit and socialize.
3.)They come to socialize AND to learn.
4.) They come because they want to worship and praise God. They see God working in their lives and want to take time to thank him. They want to learn what God is doing in other people's lives. They want to honor the commandment to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. In other words, they come because of God.
5.) They sense a call on their lives to be part of God's Kingdom plan and want to help God to communicate His message to other Deaf people. They want a role in the mechanics of the church.
I think we have rounded the corner. Although some are still in stage 2, many are showing an interest in learning. They now answer questions and share their thoughts and experiences. It's a big step. Stage 2 is self-centered. Stage 3 starts to show some openness to others and to God.
Manuel is growing weekly as a leader and in the knowledge of Christ. We all love to see him share a song or Bible story. He puts so much heart into it. He knows he is called. I think it is a huge responsibility for him...maybe too big. It's not up to me. It's God's plan. It's in His hands.
Please continue to pray with us to grow in Christ, to grow in expressions of love, and to be patient and forgiving of each other.