The first theological seminary for Deaf students in South Africa
Deaf Christian Mission Africa
“...on that day the Deaf shall hear the words of the Scriptures”
What do we want to establish?
We identified the tremendous need of Deaf people in South Africa and Africa who live and die without having “heard” the Gospel of Jesus Christ. More than 99% of these Deaf people have no access to the sermons preached in the church. Who will reach them with the Gospel? We believe the answer is to train Deaf Christians and to send them (back) to minister to Deaf communities in Sign Language which they mutually understand. For this purpose, we want to start a theological college for the Deaf, train them and help them to be placed as ordained missionaries.
How big is the need amongst the Deaf?
• According to the 2002 statistics there are more than 400 000 Deaf people in SA. • There are 47 schools for the Deaf, with more than 7 000 children. • More than 80% of Deaf school leavers only attain a primary education level. • The majority of Deaf are not able to read the Bible with comprehension. That is why Bible Societies around the world publish special Bible translations for Deaf readers. • Less than ½ % of all Deaf persons in SA have matriculated. • In total, less than 2 000 Deaf are spiritually cared for in a specialised ministry for the Deaf. • The vast majority of Deaf people (more than 95%) do not attend any church service at all, nor are they ministered to, visited or cared for spiritually.
• The church has failed sadly in its mission to reach out to the Deaf.
Why do Deaf people find it difficult to understand our language?
From just after birth, hearing children are able to learn the language of their parents spontaneously just by hearing their voices. Hearing babies acquire language spontaneously simply because they can hear. However, Deaf children in a hearing environment (which constitutes 90% of all Deaf children) first have to learn the art of lip-reading before they even realise that people around them are communicating. In a specialised educational situation, the process to learn lip-reading takes three to four years. Then they can only “hear” if they can see the speaker’s lip movements, and if hy uses words that is already known to the Deaf child. It is a very tiresome and long process to teach a Deaf child the basics of hearing language, while the optimum time that language can be learned, expires after the first six years of his life.
Sign language is the mother tongue of the Deaf
Sign Language is a fully developed language with its own vocabulary and syntax. It is a visual medium of communication and the most natural mode of expression amongst Deaf people when they converse. It is almost impossible for hearing people to learn to express themselves as fluently as Deaf persons in Sign Language. Ths is one of the major factors why the churches using hearing ministers, find it difficult to communicate the Gospel effectively enough to the Deaf.
Why do we look for Deaf and not hearing missionaries?
• Deaf people can understand and express themselves far better to other Deaf people.
• It is time consuming to first teach a hearing person theology, and then Sign Language, which he/she cannot fully master. It is better to start with a Deaf person who already knows Sign Language.
• Deaf people are hesitant to confide in hearing people because of cultural and language differences.
What we have done so far
Representatives of ten of the biggest churches in SA have come together and formed a pilot committee. Agreement has been reached on a basic theological course (Veritas) that will be presented in Worcester at the campus of Deaf College South Africa from the 10th of April 2006. Students will be evaluated and lectures given in Sign Language. During the fourth year students will study the doctrines and customs of their own denomination and will be ordained by their church.
How can you help?
You and your church can pray for God’s blessing for this project.
• Support us in any way that the Lord leads you. If financially: acc of the Inst for Deaf (missions), ABSA, branch code 503107 acc 440 410 472.
• Advertise this course amongst potential Deaf students.
• Support a student or an aspect of our course (e.g. practical training).
Contact dr. R. Hough 27(0)219486631 rh.wdsl.co.za fax: 27(0)219486632
rev. M Lintfelt 27 (0)233477413, or rev. SW Viljoen 27 (0)233423039.
Academic: deon.deafcare.co.za Finance: klippekraal.mweb.co.za
What do we believe? What is our goal?
The ministry of the Gospel of Jesus Christ by well trained and ordained Deaf
spiritual workers to all the Deaf in South Africa and Africa in their own language
The training (in a Deaf friendly way) of Deaf persons who have a calling, and their
placement, to become ordained missionaries for the Deaf. This will be undertaken
by dedicated, experienced persons and organisations, in order to establish
sustainable ministries for the Deaf in South Africa and Africa where they can
preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their own language and culture.
Our teaching or Dogma
We believe in the Holy Trinity, as revealed by the Holy Spirit in the Bible, the Word
of God. We believe that He wants to save all people, including the Deaf, by his
grace through the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Based on this foundation, we aim to train Deaf students to minister the Gospel to
their own deaf cultural groups in their own distinctive manner in order to lead
them to Christ so that they can form part of the body of Christ.