According to persecution watchdog Open Doors USA, North Africa is home to two of the world’s worst persecutors of Christians: Libya and Sudan. Finding and graduating from a Christian seminary in that region; add persecution and the physical inability to hear, and the task seems unconquerable.
A Deaf believer named Chris* successfully navigated these challenges to become an ordained minister in North Africa. However, his trials didn’t end; they just took a new form. One seminary classmate told Chris he shouldn’t be a church leader because he’s Deaf. He reminded Chris of a passage in the Old Testament that high priests cannot have defects. A Lot of denomination share this same belief that ordained ministers in the Church do not need to have physical defects, citing that deafness is part of these ‘defects.’ This is just one of the many barriers Deaf leaders face around the world.
“Many times over the years they’ve been told, ‘You can’t lead. You can’t do things.’ But, Deaf people can do anything that people who hear can do; they have been created in the image of God just like hearing people have,” Myers says. “The only thing they can’t do is physically hear.”
DOOR’s Deaf leaders helped Chris understand the true meaning of God’s Word. “The point of the priest not having defects is that it was a picture of Jesus coming,” Myers recalls.
“Since Jesus has come and He’s the perfect High Priest, He makes us right with God. Now, any of us have the opportunity to be ministers of the Gospel.”
DOOR believes that the best people to reach Deaf for Christ are Deaf believers. However, Myers observes, Deaf Christians are rare – less than two percent of the global Deaf population knows Jesus. Plus, Deaf-friendly resources and training are nearly non-existent. That’s why DOOR’s Deaf leaders select, train, and equip believers from Deaf communities around the world in evangelism, discipleship, and church planting.
After they complete DOOR’s training, Deaf leaders then reach out to other Deaf people for Christ and plant churches. “What’s unique about the training that DOOR offers is it’s Deaf leaders teaching in-depth approaches and Deaf methodologies to other Deaf people. So, we cut out that middle step of having to take training from a [‘hearing’] context [into] a Deaf context,” Myers explains.
“Many times, people think that because Deaf communities are unreached, churches need to empower a ‘hearing’ community that lives right next-door to reach that Deaf community. But, in fact if you empower Deaf people from places where the Gospel has already penetrated, those Deaf leaders connect with the local Deaf people in a way that a hearing person never could.”
Myers says his desire is to help Deaf reach Deaf for Christ through DOOR. More Deaf leaders are empowered to reach their own people and be commissioned as missionaries to reach Deaf communities around the world.” He believes that as long as barriers are removed from what ‘qualifies’ a fellow believer to spread the gospel, then there could be an explosion in evangelism around the world.