What a difference two letters can make in Africa.
Clifford Owusu-Gyamfi, an Adventist pastor in Ghana, wrote to me on Sept. 27, 2006, to describe the needs of the deaf people in his area. Just one month later, I received a letter from Henry Kamau, requesting help for him and his deaf friends in Mombasa, Kenya.
Many letters later, there is wonderful growth of the deaf ministry in Africa.
When Harrison Antwi asked for help because he noticed that the Adventist Church in Ghana had little or nothing for the deaf, we prayed and sent sign-language DVDs and easy English reading materials to him.
He began to share his faith in the Jamasi Deaf School, which he had attended near his home. The conference not only agreed to take him as a Gospel Outreach lay Bible worker but also appointed Kenneth, a former teacher of the deaf, to supervise his work.
James Amoah, Central Ghana Conference secretary, is giving deaf work a major profile in that conference. With a growing number of baptisms, the conference is also preparing a young pastor to join forces with Harrison in an expanding work for deaf.
The work in Kenya
With little offered by our church for the hundreds or thousands of Adventist deaf students in Kenya, they often drifted away.
But now there are five full-time and two part-time Gospel Outreach workers for the deaf in Kenya, and five workers are being sponsored by the church to the Adventist University of Eastern Africa, Baraton.
A North American deaf ministry team recently visited Kenya and helped conduct a four-day deaf ministry workshop in Nairobi. Paul Muasya, East Africa Union (EAU) president, has personally taken on the role of deaf ministry coordinator for the entire union.
One of the huge challenges now is working with the many Adventist deaf youth. In one public school in Rongo, 75 percent of its 185 deaf students come from Adventist homes. Roughly 90 percent of the Kendu Bay deaf school students are Adventists.
While visiting the Kisii/Rongo area, the North American team witnessed the baptisms of 36 deaf young people, plus the founder and one staff member, from a small deaf school recently given to the local Adventist church.
The EAU communication director reports that nearly all of the 200 baptized Adventist deaf in Kenya have joined the church since Henry’s letter in 2006.
Scratching the surface
This is only scratching the surface of the needs for deaf ministry in Africa. Deaf ministry has been almost non-existent around the world, but thanks to Gospel Outreach, there are 41 workers for the deaf in seven countries.
Many believe that Jesus will not return until the deaf are also reached with the distinctive message given to the Adventist church. What will you do to help?