Empowering the Deaf with Christ’s Love in Honduras (Part II) An Interview with Robin HarterWritten by admin on Aug 13, 2019 in - No Comments
Empowering the Deaf with Christ’s Love in Honduras (Part II)
An Interview with Robin Harter (Click Here to Read Part I)
SIGNS OF LOVE teaches, disciples, and loves the disenfranchised Deaf in rural Honduras and other developing nations. By hosting Deaf camps, planting Deaf churches, equipping Deaf leaders, launching micro-enterprises for the Deaf, and promoting deaf awareness, Signs of Love is empowering a population that is otherwise socially marginalized, denied educational opportunity, and at high risk of abuse. Recently, I connected with Robin Harter, who founded the organization in 1999, to learn about what’s new at Signs of Love and how we can continue to support her good work.
What is Deaf church like, and how is it different from a hearing church?
There’s nothing like it! I wish every person could experience what church is like for these amazing people we get to do life with! A typical worship service looks like this: After we have an opening prayer welcoming God’s presence through the power of The Holy Spirit, the Deaf pastor (who is typically illiterate, having been language deprived before becoming a part of Signs of Love), shows the gatherers the Bible story he/she will be preaching from in their picture Bibles. They have time to “read” over the story, taking it in visually. The sermon then proceeds, and after that, a time of thanks. Each person has an opportunity to share corporately what they are thankful to God for. We’ve found this to be very powerful as we work among those who have had more than difficult and heartbreaking lives.
Sound is such a central element to the worship experience in most hearing churches—often there are instruments and an emphasis on singing. What does worship look like in the Deaf Church?
Those who want to worship through song come to the front in a u-shaped formation, and one of the men beats a Garifuna-made drum while the others take turns “singing.” Their songs are like chants, and they are always different as they flow directly from their hearts to their hands. Sometimes the gatherers share in communion as well. After the closing prayer, everyone hugs every single person.
Rather than imposing the structure of a traditional worship service, it seems you have given the Deaf freedom to determining what their church might look like.
We have been careful not to influence the mannerisms and ways of how the Deaf in our community “do church.” We’ve wanted it to be something that grows out of their understanding and need for worship, which obviously is very different from ours as hearing people who have never been language deprived. Of course we’ve taught them the elements of a church as delineated in Acts, and they make sure those elements are included in their times of gathering.
What is something you’ve been learning lately through your work with the Deaf?
These beloveds are constantly teaching me valuable things. Every time I see the Kingdom enlarged I learn again, and again. I like to remember this picture when things get difficult, that it just takes one:
It just takes one little girl in a village to be rooted in Christ’s love to bring the Good News to all in her village. It just takes one child who’s loved by someone to grasp their value in Christ and the hope He gives to break the cycle of abuse and effect Kingdom change.
It just takes one young man who’s serious about his conversion to go and make disciples and baptize them in the name of Jesus. It just takes one woman who’s known as “the crazy one” to receive a miracle of His wholeness, be transformed, and then transform all those who called her crazy. It just takes one man who’s looked upon pathetically by everyone in his village to be healed of his addiction, and then be used as a miraculous example to bring those villagers to the feet of Christ. It just takes one woman who desires to learn of His Truth, who will then keep spreading that Truth and transform her entire country for the Kingdom. It just takes one!
Whenever I start bogging down on the massiveness of the work before me and Signs of Love, I just need to remember that all of us can love and teach one person at a time, and that’s all that matters.
That’s beautiful, Robin. What is your greatest need at the moment, and how can we be supporting you in prayer?
We are launching a branch in Peru, as there is currently no Deaf church (by that I mean a church with a Deaf pastor ministering to the Deaf). We are also doing some training in Africa, coming alongside Deaf leaders who desire to become effective disciples for His Kingdom. Without the Holy Spirit’s guidance, we’ve got nothing. Pray for us for God’s favor in Peru and several countries in Africa. Thank you for joining us in prayer! We’re grateful for you, and we love you!