The dust is rustled upwards as the sun beats down on parched lips. The children are playing some sort of ball game with bare toes and many American boys. 1 or 2 lone American females attempt to play along, sidestepping the cultural norm to be separate from the boys at all times. We are still trying to adapt to the expectations placed on the female gender around the world. Cries for attention are heard around the lot by those who can do just that, hear. The children are deaf and without the cry, the hearing people will not know they are needed for the pass, the dribble, the nearing goal. Victory is close and the cries and yelps are louder now. He misses. The boys all quiet down again and I am left with my thoughts for my coming blog. This blog. The one about the deaf children that I’ve been prepared my whole life to meet.
Sign Language was my foreign language in Highschool and I trained for over a year to be an interpreter for the deaf and hard of hearing. I even learned from a man that was nearly completely deaf. However, that is not the road I walked down until I traveled around the world for my 8th month on the World Race, where I landed among a powerful people group, the deaf children of the Maharashtra Fellowship for the Deaf. 130 deaf children, gathered together to receive an education, acceptance, and the hope that Jesus’ love can give them as they are.
That’s what I love about Jesus, He doesn’t see them as especially needy humans. We are all needy humans and that’s a fact. Jesus just loves these children. As they are, He calls out to them, just as He does you and I, to receive the gift of His love and to encounter Him every day. They are the forgotten, lacking, and literally the “outcast” of this world and yet, here I find Jesus, in the midst of these children, seeking their hearts and asking them (like you and I) to trust Him for their next move.
These precious, often blue eyed, blessings, are little signs of heaven . . . .yes, pun intended.
He is visibly drawing them into the blatant reality that they are valuable . . . equally as valuable, to Him as anyone else on this earth and they are in return responding with vibrant lives that go beyond words. They speak with their hands and they love with their hearts at just as quick of pace. Learning to do and to exist in a hearing world, these children find refuge in the faces of Americans/foreigners who have come to love on them in any way we can. “Loving” looks like education, sports training, Bible lessons and very active devotionals, chatting, singing with our hands, and attempting to remember every child’s sign name and our own!
Everything we did this month, as American missionaries, was not easy, simple, or even always understood but it was worth it. I would like to clarify now as to who this ministry was really for. . . us. The children, these blessed children . . . they were absolutely signs of heaven. From their devoted hearts to pray to their loving inclusion of all who crossed their path. The way that they reached out to us was a testimony of Who Jesus really is and what He can look like on an every day level. I mean don’t get me wrong, they were children so they scratched each other, got mad, and even cheated in a game or two but ultimately, the peace in their hearts shined brighter than any of the darkness of their past or the clouded uncertainty of their future. They WILL have a tough life. They WILL not be respected in their own land and by their own people but I pray that their affirmation WILL be found in the God Who created them and sees them perfect as they are.
I struggled with the thought of healing while I was at MFD. Doesn’t God want to heal these children of their deafness in the same way I’ve witnessed Him doing with other infirmities around the world this year? Why should I feel as if praying for their healing was lessoning the value of who they are now, when in other areas of the world, I have indeed done just that at Jesus’ call? Because they are in many ways, better off than I. No question in that. They are not distracted by the sounds of the world. They can focus. And they do. They are not lacking! These hard of hearing and deaf children are WANTING for more of God and more for their every day and so they live to THEIR FULLEST as we seek to rescue them from something that is actually meant to rescue us. The knowledge that we do not need anything but to be in the presence of the Lord daily and to walk out His kingdom now on earth! Love everyone. Speak truth. Serve. These things are of utmost importance. Scripture speaks of the flowers of the earth fading and says that the Word is the only thing that remains. We know also from the Bible that Jesus is said to BE the Word. He is with these children, they have claimed Him as their own and they are hungry to live for Him. And so they groan for Him in an act of worship so meaningful that grown men and women do weep.
As I leave India, I am struck by the lesson that Christ taught me through these awe filled children. Heaven is coming. But heaven can be lived out here and now by being the very signs of heaven that God has called us to be. We are the card that Jesus wants to hand out as an invitation to His eternal home. We will not one day understand the fullness of God’s love but can experience it right now wherever we are. We are not lacking. But I know that I am wanting. I am in want for all God has for me and I desire to serve Him, His strength made perfect in my weakness of the flesh. May I be a sign of heaven as I saw the children be at MFD. Speaking to them was difficult at times but always brought joy because of the commitment in communication. I was forced to be fully present and paying attention for every minute of the conversation and I really think God wants to have the same loyalty in communication between He and me! I’m so thankful to apply my month in India with the beautiful deaf children to my life in general.
“God, thank You for sending me to little signs of heaven. May I continue to be the calling card to Your presence and Your kingdom home.”
PS To watch the music video that Bryan Matthews and I made this month, click below!
(Pictures by Ashley Mueller and Ryan Otto)