Kenya (MNN) — Kids sit in silence, spellbound by a story. These students are learning at a deaf school in Kenya, by local deaf teachers who are there on behalf of DOOR International — an inter-denominational Christian organization offering training and translation ministry to the deaf.
The story is from the Bible and the young Kenyans are learning, not just about Jesus, but also new signs to add to their growing vocabulary.
Kenya — with allowances for religious belief to be taught to students — is one of the few places where DOOR teams can both teach nationals about Jesus, and general studies, in a government school.
It isn’t uncommon for countries to follow the United States’ lead, keeping Christ at arms-length from the children. That is harmful, both spiritually and intellectually, says Rob Myers, president and CEO of DOOR International.
Schools for the deaf in Europe have, for more than a century, promoted the belief that the hearing-impaired would be better served if, at a young age, they were not encouraged to use sign language; and, in fact, were forbidden from using their heart language in school.
That model has spread over the world, and children are still paying the price for it in schools where they are prohibited from using sign language, he said.
“Much of their education involved copying and memorization without really an understanding and access through their heart language to what the information actually means,” Myers said. In Kenya, DOOR workers are free to teach their students about Christ, and instill a love of the language that comes most naturally to them – sign.
“If they (DOOR teachers) can equip the next generation with the tools, with God’s Word, with opportunities, then that advances so much more, in the next 20 or 30 years, the state of the Christian Deaf community in Kenya.”