Christy Ortiz, an interpreter for the deaf at a Texas high school, says most of her students have attended local churches for years. But without interpreters in their congregations, the teenagers were not grasping the fundamentals of the faith.
"The cross, Jesus' death and resurrection—it meant nothing to them," Ortiz said after her students bombed the religion part of a recent exam. "They were shocked to learn that Jesus was a Jew."
Ortiz referred them to some YouTube videos made by Deaf Video Communications (DVC), a Christian ministry to the deaf. The students watched every video over the weekend, and on Monday peppered her with questions about sin, hell, heaven, and Jesus' role in all of it.
Days later, several students came to a See You at the Pole event. One told Ortiz, "You always talk about your God like he's a real live person. This morning, it felt like he was really standing there with us." Ortiz corrected him: "Our God." He replied, "I need to think about it some more, but I think I like that. Our God."
Based in the Chicago suburb of Carol Stream, DVC makes evangelism and discipleship videos for deaf of all ages. But it has a passion for the 70,000 deaf children nationwide who have few if any other ways to learn about God.
Most churches regard the deaf as a benevolence ministry, similar to the elderly or disabled. But experts argue that a different paradigm is desperately needed: seeing deaf ministry as cross-cultural missions.
Language and cultural barriers have left the deaf a veritable unreached people group right in America's midst. Christian deaf ministries estimate that only 1 percent of American deaf children will attend church as adults. Less than 7 percent will ever have the gospel presented to them in ...