Do Not Assume II

We just finished a Deaf Workers Conference here in the Philippines. We had deaf workers from all over the country. One of the things we discussed was not to think they know something. Check it out first to be sure they do understand. The key word is understand!

Recently in Sunday School, I was preaching about humble. I asked the deaf to be sure they knew the meaning of “humble” Their answer – humble means poor. Pride means rich. I spent the next 15 minutes using examples to explain the real meaning of “humble.” I continued until they understood. One of the workers who came to the conference told us the exact same experience. She told her deaf that she was flying up to Manila to attend the conference. The deaf said she was “proud” because she had the money to fly up to Manila. They meant she was rich (proud) so she could buy a ticket.

I have recently been shocked at the simplest signs which the deaf do not understand. For example, the deaf in one class could not explain “lazy” or “patient.” Of course, I explained it to them so they could understand the meanings of the signs. The deaf should agree on which sign with what meaning you use. It is always important to make sure that everyone understands the meanings of the signs you use. We are always talking about meanings and definitions with the deaf. At the conference, I asked the deaf what was their sign for “Skype.” I got about 5 or 6 different answers. I then decided on one of the signs and used that one after the deaf all agreed we would use that sign. Let the Deaf help decide which sign is best. When several different signs are suggested, someone must decide which one to use. Otherwise total confusion will follow.

Do not think everyone uses the same signs for the same meaning. Teach slowly. When you see confusion on the faces, ask the deaf the meaning of the signs you are using. Do not assume, but be sure they know understand.

Who Will Reach Them?

Papua New Guinea is a rugged and mountainous country. It has a population of 7 1/2 million people. There are 887 people groups in these islands, and they speak 820 different languages or dialects. Among these people groups are the Deaf. There are probably 20 – 40,000 deaf people scattered throughout these islands!

Recently, I was talking to a missionary from Papua New Guinea, and he told me that there are 2 or 3 deaf people in every village up in the mountains where he has churches. He has wanted to reach these deaf people for Christ for a long time, but there is no one to help him do this. Here is a great opportunity for someone to give his life to reaching lost deaf people in the hundreds of villages throughout this country. It would not be an easy life, but would require many sacrifices for the sake of Christ, and for the sake of reaching lost deaf souls. Who will go preach the Gospel to the Deaf in Papua New Guinea?

Also, a missionary from the country of Guyana in South America related to me his desire to reach the Deaf of his country. There are probably 1 – 2000 Deaf without the Gospel there. Who will reach the Deaf in Guyana for Christ?

I have been invited to go to these countries and others in order to train men to do deaf ministry. However, I am just one man, and cannot fulfill all the responsibilities, nor accept all the invitations that I receive. It breaks my heart. Does it not break the heart of other men in the United States when they hear of deaf people who have no opportunity to be saved because they have no preacher?

How shall they “hear” without a preacher… one that learns their sign language, possibly even needs to teach that sign language to them, and then to communicate the eternal truths of salvation through Jesus Christ to their souls? The fields are white unto harvest, yet the laborers are few!

The capital city of Sofia, Bulgaria, is in need of a man to start a deaf church ASAP. The capital city of Bolivia, La Paz, is in need of a man to start a church for the deaf there as well. For many years we have been looking for someone to start a work with the deaf in Paris, France. Many capitals and large cities of Europe still do not have a church for the Deaf. The same can be said of many other cities in Asia, Africa, and South and Central America. Is God not calling any men to work with the Deaf anymore? Deaf people around the world cry out in condemnatory despair, “No man careth for my soul!”

SWMI specializes in taking the Gospel of Jesus Christ to deaf people worldwide; however, we need help! Is God speaking to you? What will you do? To contact David click here.

My Deaf World

Many ask me, “How does it feel to be deaf?” What are differences in a deaf life and a hearing life? I want to share with you about my deaf life. I was born deaf and I am full deaf. I cannot lipread or speak words. I can make some sounds and gestures. “I was born and raised in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania. I also have a twin sister, and we were born on April 14, 1947. I was deaf and my sister was hearing. My parents were Blaine and Freda Snare. I had three brothers and three sisters. My mother was faithful Christian to go to a Bible church so she always took me to church every Sunday and Wednesday. I went to church but never understood because there were no interpreters. At home and church I grew up without interpreters. My family would write to me and make a few gestures, but I could not understand their writings and gestures. In church, I just sat down, watched the preacher, and looked at the pictures of Jesus and the cross on the walls. All my family were Christians, but I was not saved. They did not know sign language, but some of them learned a few signs and the Deaf alphabet.

I was a student of Pennsylvania School for the Deaf in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. In school all the Deaf signed to one another. I enjoyed deaf fellowship. I loved to play football, basketball and baseball. I was interested in sports more than girls. Because of communication problems, I was not smart myself. In school I learned to be a printer. Because I was deaf I was quiet and alone a lot. I did not try to talk with my voice. In 1967 I graduated from PSD. Then I worked as a printer in Huntingdon. I was still going to the church without an interpreter. I believed in God, but I did not know about His Son Jesus Christ and hell yet. I had many questions but no one to ask. (Continued next issue). Deaf need spiritual help… Contact Allen by clicking here.

The Deaf Can Have Joy

“Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” – Psalm 37:4

A Christmas song says, “Joy to the world. The Lord has come.” It could be changed, “Joy to the Deaf. The Lord has come.” In this world of sorrow, we need to have more joy. Delight means to experience great pleasure and joy within your heart. Christians need to delight in the Lord. Some people delight in sports, worldly pleasure, or entertainment. The Bible says to delight in the Lord. Enjoy with great pleasure serving God. Do not complain, but be content. Deaf people have joy in fellowships. You should also have joy in serving the Lord. Do you enjoy going to church? Do you delight in reading your Bible? Do you have joy in praying? Do you delight yourself in the Lord? God promises if you delight in Him, He will give you the desires of your heart. What do you desire? You can have it, if you will delight in the Lord. God wants you to be a happy and contented Christian. He promises to reward you if you will serve Him with a good attitude.

Warning! Do not delight yourself in the world, because it will not bring joy. What makes you happy? What do you talk about? What do you love most? Do you love the things of God? I am deaf. Sometimes I get lonely and bored, but I am never bored or tired of serving God. My heart delights to preach the Word of God. I delight in going to church. Sometimes there will be problems and troubles but they will not steal my joy in the Lord. I want to encourage deaf Christians to enjoy and delight yourself in the Lord. Learn to be content as Apostle Paul, “I have learned to be content” (Phil. 4:11). It is natural to complain, but you must practice being content. Happiness and joy is a choice. Every day you need to decide to delight yourself in the Lord. Be a happy and contented Christian. Do not gripe or complain. I am deaf and I have learned to delight myself in the Lord. If I can, so can you. “Delight thyself also in the Lord, and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Do it!

Interpreting Emotional Messages

Recently someone sent me a link to an interesting way to learn sign language. Most non-signers tend to think that learning American Sign Language (ASL) is simply learning signs that match English words. But what would happen if a hearing person began to learn ASL by studying Deaf people’s facial expressions, body language, and the classifiers they use before they learned actual signs. This may seem to be a strange method, but ASL users tend to watch each other’s faces rather than their signs.

If you are having difficulty understanding a Deaf person’s signing, try thinking of ASL signs (normally associated with English words) as only a way of giving context to sign language done on the face, with the body, or using classifiers. Also, try showing the message on your face and hands rather than signing with “word” signs. For example, try showing these emotions using only your face:

swnp-122-4-2aNext, try using your face, body and hands to communicate those messages. However, do not allow yourself to sign any “word” signs. Use only gestures, pantomime, and any classifiers you may know. Finally, try observing a Deaf person who uses ASL. Do not focus on the “word” signs, but notice their expressions and body language. It works! Naturally, you will need to add signs for clarity as you progress, but this is a very helpful method.

SWM does not endorse products or people. However, you may learn more at ASLdoneRight.com. Watch a couple of lessons online. I specifically enjoyed the video, ASL Grammar Without The Frustration Part 3. View at…www.youtube.com/watch?v=1o-iJkGr-0E -jb

As a Missionary to the Deaf I Have Learned…

(Please keep an open mind and remember that these are my personal opinions about the Deaf in general, not all Deaf.)

Conclusion: “Things I Have Learned From the Deaf.” I hope these thoughts have helped you reflect on things you have learned. I also hope there have been a few chuckles as you have read them. Above all, I hope these things will help you to better understand and be more aware of the Deaf world. This list is not exhaustive. Please feel free to send me your own thoughts to add to mine. I will appreciate your investment in my ministry and I hope I have invested in your ministry. … To contact Jim Bracelin, click here. Now, my new articles…

“THINGS I WANT TO LEARN FROM THE DEAF”

I want to learn how to teach more visually. One of my deepest desires is to take what I have learned over many years in church with the Deaf (and Hearing) that have not had the same opportunity as I. When I began learning sign language, I began teaching a Deaf Bible Study. I had a great deal to learn from them. You see, I had a whole library full of materials that I had developed to teach Hearing people. I have had to learn (and I am still learning) to take those stories and principles and make them visual for the Deaf. I have learned that Hearing people are stimulated by big words that are a combination of smaller words put together to form a complex thought. Deaf are just the opposite. The great Deaf communicators that I know take that complicated thought and change it so that it shows what the big, complicated word means. This change can be very difficult for a person who has been accustomed their whole life to the “hearing” way. However, this is a change that is necessary if we are going to get our teaching to the Deaf where they can understand it fully. I have learned this is not a one-time event, but a continual life-time practice of trial and error. A successful man was asked, “What is the secret of your success?” He replied, “Doing right things that worked.” The next question, “How do you know what are the right things?” He answered, “By doing the wrong things that did not work.”

A Blessing Thirty Years Later

Recently Harvest Baptist Church of the Deaf held a Bible Conference with the theme “Power.” Dr. Reggie Rempel asked Missionary Eric Quinlan and me to preach. I did not know Eric very well. During the meeting, I read that Eric had learned sign language at New England Baptist Church in Massachusetts. It so happened that Donna and I taught signs at New England Baptist in Medford, MA. Eric said, “No, that was the other New England Baptist.” Then I remembered that I also taught sign language at New England Baptist in Brockton, MA. He said that his church was in West Bridgewater, MA. Eric then said, “I don’t remember who taught us sign language, but it was a guy from down south, and our church teased him because he said ‘yella’ instead of ‘yellow’.” I swnp-122-4-1told Eric, “I still say ‘yella.’” We both then realized that it was me who taught him sign language in 1985 (30 years ago). The church had later moved to West Bridgewater. I went home and found pictures of Eric in the “deaf choir.” Wow! It touched my heart to know that a young boy from 30 years ago is now doing pioneer mission work with the deaf. We were both thrilled with what the Lord had done from that sign language class. Please pray for Eric and his wife Juana in their good ministry in the Dominican Republic.

A Mother’s Tears

By Elmer Towns
(Used by Permission)

There is nothing so tender, so convicting, so touching and so powerful as a mother’s tears. Why? Because mothers are more tender and gentle than any others. Because mothers care deeper than any others. Because all life comes from mothers. Because mothers have great hopes for the family. Because mothers are remarkable. Because mothers reflect God’s love to us. Mothers shed tears of joy when they share happiness with their husbands and children. Many children who would not be changed with spankings are changed with a mother’s tears. Weeping is also the result of a sinful world, “time to weep” (Eccl. 3:4). God knows the need of tears so He created tear ducts. Mothers pray and weep over their children more than others.

A good example is Hannah’s weeping prayer, “She (Hannah) was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child (son), then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life” (1 Samuel 1:10, 11). God answered her prayer! If mothers don’t pray for family, who will?

Merry Christmas – Terry Bracelin

Memories

Every year as the end of the year approaches, I look back over that year. Thanksgiving causes me to think of the many blessings of people and events – family, friends, Fantastic Saturdays and other meetings, needs met, decisions made, and lessons learned (sometimes through hard situations). As Christmas nears, I tend to think back over previous Christmas times – the Christmas story of the miraculous birth of Christ who came to give us life eternal, Christmas dramas and concerts (there is one funny song from a drama our kids were in over 20 years ago that Jon and I still sing every time we hear a certain phrase), caroling up and down the streets of town or in homes of shut-ins, family and friends fellowships, lots and lots of food – especially the great desserts (chocolate, yum!!), miles traveled to be with loved ones, gifts given and received, people missed because they lived too far away or could not get off work, and those missed because they had gone to Heaven.

Memories often bring joy, but sometimes they bring sorrow. They can cause us to wish we could go back and do it all over again or to go back and change some things – take back unkind words, mend relationships, spend more time with someone, or put more focus on the eternal. Of course, we can’t go back and change the past, but we can allow our memory of it to cause us to change things in the present and future. Today is the best time to say “I love you” or “Thank you” to the Lord and to important people in your life. Now is a good time to “count your blessings,” think upon them, and share them with others. And when you are discouraged or realize your love for God is not as strong as it once was, take the advice Jesus gave the churches at Ephesus and Sardis (Revelation 2:5; 3:3). He told them to remember – remember when they first heard and responded to the Gospel. Remember the love and zeal they had for Christ. And remember the many treasures they received with salvation – eternal life, a home in Heaven, the Holy Spirit to live in them and guide them, a new relationship (children of God), their names written in the Book of Life where they can never be erased, joy, hope, peace, a reason for living, a message to proclaim, and so much more! Recalling all this would cause them to return to the Lord and the joy they once knew with Him. It will work the same for you. Remember.

Sunday Shoes and Acorns

swnp-122-3-1Growing up, we usually had two pairs of shoes, everyday/school shoes and Sunday shoes. I always loved Easter because we got new Sunday shoes. Sometimes we wore our everyday shoes on Sunday, but they had to be cleaned and polished. Seems this custom is still with me. Even though I now have several pairs of shoes, some are reserved for Sunday and special occasions. Usually these shoes are not sturdy or good for walking but are made for their “good looks.” On Sunday evening, November 2, 2014, I was enjoying my walk home from visiting my aunt and uncle. Still wearing my “Sunday” shoes, I turned into our concrete drivewayswnp-122-3-2 and “boom” I was down. My forehead bounced off the concrete leaving a huge golf ball-size lump. Upon sitting up, I saw the reason for the fall. Acorns were scattered all over the driveway, which my Sunday shoes did not like. They were lying a few feet back. I had literally fallen out of my shoes. Upon trying to stand, I could not put any pressure on my arms, so I scooted to the edge of the driveway and managed to get to my feet. I spent a restless night in pain with a swollen left hand and trauma in my right arm. Early Monday morning, Ted took me to our local clinic where x-rays revealed fractured bones. I was sent to an Orthopedic Clinic where I was outfitted with a cast on my left hand, half way up my arm, and a sling for the right arm. I sported a huge lump and a black, swollen eye. I am a doer, and in my opinion this was not good or right. I was “pitiful.”

Hands to Your Side

“Be still, and know that I am God…” (Psalm 46:10). On that Sunday morning I had read a devotion from Our Daily Bread entitled “Hands Off!” written by Joe Stowell. In it he explained that “still” in this verse means to “cease striving” or, literally, “to put our hands at our side.” On Monday afternoon, as I sat with my hands at my side because of the cast and sling, I understood that meaning. Not by my choice, my hands had been put at my side. From this experience I got a clearer picture of how important our hands are. We need our hands to do almost everything. For the first time in my adult life, I was dependent on others to help me with my most basic needs. I wondered, what lessons I should be learning.

A Matter of Pride

As I’ve already stated, I am a doer. I delight in serving others and being there when needed. It has always been difficult for me to be on the receiving end. (Perhaps this is a matter of pride.) With my hands at my side I was in a helpless place where others must serve me. Friends provided meals, drove me to appointments, cleaned our house, brought books and flowers, and showered me with love and care. My husband and sister gave of themselves to make sure my needs were met. It was very humbling and a lesson I needed to learn. I knew I had friends and family, but, wow, did they ever prove themselves! I appreciate more now that they are always there for me. “A friend in need is a friend indeed!”

My Hands to My Side

While no one asks for suffering, problems, and trouble, they are a part of life. If responded to properly, they can multiply our appreciation for the guidance and refuge God provides and make us more sensitive to the needs of others. Most of us, however, have the tendency to want to control the outcome or direct the steps needed to resolve trouble and problems and relieve the suffering. We want God to do it our way. Instead of allowing Him to direct us, we scheme and plan and tell Him how things should be done. When the outcome is not what we want, we tend to murmur and complain and blame God. During this weakened time in my life, fear and worry seemed to invade my mind. For weeks I struggled to gain control. Finally, I surrendered, took my hands off and let the Lord handle the troubling situations. When I did that, a peace and rest came over my mind and spirit. My hands off (to my side) – His hands on! It’s the best way. Author and teacher, Oswald Chambers has given good insight. He says, “If you are going to be used by God, He will take you through a multitude of experiences that are not meant for you at all. They are meant to make you useful in His hands, and to enable you to understand what transpires in other souls.”

“The struggle of life is one of our greatest blessings. It makes us patient, sensitive, and Godlike. It teaches us that although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it.” –Helen Keller

“We are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:37). “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).

Looking back I can thank God for Sunday shoes and acorns. He used this experience to draw me closer to Himself and to teach me to trust Him more. In my weakness, I felt more the need of God, friends and family… This is written because I care!

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