The first time I started signing as I told the Bible story, one of the deaf kids, Jallal, opened his eyes really wide in shock, then started making happy noises and nodding his head up and down. He was my most active participant in the post-story discussion! I got to sign with him a few weeks later, and he introduced me to a deaf friend of his who works near the school. I then got to help Jallal share the gospel with his friend! It is so amazing how God prepares us for the work he has for us, even in something as seemingly insignificant as taking American Sign Language as my foreign language in college. It has opened up doors to forming relationships that I never would have dreamed of!
Last week I especially saw God making these kids more comfortable with us. I had them help me act out a skit of the Good Samaritan, and they loved it! It was a hilarious commotion of redirecting the Samaritan to come on after the religious leaders walk by, trying to prevent the religious leaders from rolling over the injured man with their wheelchairs, helping the fallen innkeeper back up on his walker, concentrating on using simple language to tell the story, and translating it into sign language at the same time.
Wow. As I write this, I realize how good and gracious God is to work within so much chaos! Because of their active (and unique) participation in the story, I saw some of the older kids really opening up and being more willing to participate during the post-story discussion. I could tell that they were really thinking about how God wants us to treat our enemies.
A few weeks ago, we were able to go to the handicapped school for their Sunday morning church service, and it was so beautiful to see these children, who have such intense personal struggles, praising God with everything they have. The kids whose legs are crippled were using their hands to beat out drum rhythms, those who are paralyzed from the neck down were lifting up their heads and voices in praise to God, and the down-syndrome and deaf kids were leading the dancing in the front of the room. They were belting out their thanks to God for being so good to them and for showing them His grace. It was so humbling. How can I not praise God with every fiber of my healthy body when these kids, who, from a worldly perspective, have every right to be mad at God for their disabilities, are crying out glory and honor to God for his goodness?
Every time we have gone, I have been so astounded to see how these children can be so joyful as well as so caring of each other. The kids who can walk push around the children in wheelchairs, and a girl with no arms sits on the table and helps other kids by using her toes. I have seen her feeding paralyzed kids and helping them color their pictures! She’s better at drawing and coloring with her feet than I am with my hands!
It is so humbling yet exciting to be used by God to show and speak love and truth to these kids. What a privilege to develop relationships with them and to tell them about who God is and what He has done for them, especially for the deaf kids, who might not have any other way of learning about Jesus.