As a long-time missionary, I have seen and heard many things that are different than what I grew up with. When I first came here, many things were very different. When we first arrived in the Philippines, people called my 1-year-old son, “tombok” (fat). My wife was unhappy they were calling him fat because he was not fat. We later found out that they use the word “fat” to mean “healthy” because skinny people are usually sickly.
When I tried to tell people about the differences, people would say, “Nobody thinks that way!” People do think differently. If we want to reach them for Christ, we must understand THEIR thinking so we can teach and preach to them clearly.
1. Do not assume that people think the same way that you do about things. Many times, in teaching the deaf, I had to explain things until they told me how they said it. For example, when I was teaching the life of Christ, I told about Judas’s betrayal. I used the thumbs down sign for betray. After explaining it, one deaf said, “You mean drop friend?” They thought about it different than I did.
2. Ask how they view things. I am constantly asking questions during my teaching. I want to be sure they understand. I ask questions about the lesson. One Sunday, we were teaching the doctrine of Satan. I asked them what demons meant? They did not know so I explained it. (I will make a whole lesson about it later.) Question, question, and question the deaf about your teaching. When you are finished asking questions, ask some more!
3. Talk with the deaf at break and other times. When you talk with them, you will learn many things about how they think and what they do (and do not) understand.
4. Use what the deaf use. Copy how they think and sign. It is their language! By using their thinking and signing methods, you will be able to reach the deaf better.
Yes, people do think that way!