I grew up in DeBary, Florida, a small city in central Florida. My father was the pastor of the First Baptist Church, a small church consisting mainly of retired people. My parents loved missions, and taught the church people to love missionaries, too.
Approximately 20 miles away was located a “Boot Camp” for New Tribes Mission in Oviedo. They had chapel services each Tuesday night, and many times throughout the year my Dad would load up the family to go to Boot Camp. Our whole family loved going out there and meeting those pioneer missionaries that had given their lives to reach the unreached. They sacrificed a whole lot more than most missionaries in that they were preparing to embark on a difficult, and often dangerous, task of going into tribal areas, learning how to build huts and thatch rooves, kill and prepare wild animals of all sizes, and at the same time maintaining a friendly relationship with the “savage” indians.
However, what fascinated me more than anything was that these missionaries were preparing to go to unreached tribes that had no written language, and attempt to learn their tribal dialect. They wanted to phonetically learn the language so that they could translate a Bible into the tribal dialect, and teach them the Word of God, and teach them to read in their own language. Having to spend many hours doing this type of arduous work to teach them the Word of God required dedication, sacrifice, and commitment. Having the ability to read and write is something that most people take for granted.
In some ways, this is very similar to reaching the Deaf. In Brazil, the only language that many deaf people know is Brazilian Sign Language (LIBRAS). Many have not been taught and have not learned to read and write the Portuguese language.
We tell the church members that they need to read the Bible, but that is like arriving in a remote, unreached tribal village, handing the tribesmen a King James Version of the Bible, and telling them they need to read it. They must first be taught to read, before they can read the Bible.
My wife has a burden for the Deaf, and a desire to teach the Deaf how to read, so that they can read and understand the Bible. This afternoon she started a “Portuguese Class” for those interested in learning how to read, beginning with the “A,B,C’s.” This is quite an undertaking, but if just one deaf person can learn to read the Bible, then it will be worth it.
I know that Becky would be most grateful if you would pray for her as she teaches Portuguese to our deaf people, with some being in their 70’s, and one deaf lady in her 80’s.
Thank you, and God bless!