South Sudan’s Deaf find hope amid despair

South Sudan (MNN) — South Sudan is imploding. War and famine have pushed the world’s youngest nation to the brink of collapse.

Over the weekend, attackers killed seven aid workers as they transported food aid from the capital to a smaller village. According to BBC News, this was “the deadliest single incident for humanitarians since the country’s civil war began” in 2013.

(Photo credit: United Nations via Flickr)

The UN Secretary General recently accused South Sudan’s leaders of virtually ignoring their nation’s plight:

Over 5.5 million people face death by starvation (that’s roughly half the population),
Another 1.5 million have fled to neighboring nations like Uganda, making South Sudan’s refugee crisis the third-largest in the world, and
Approximately 86 percent of these refugees are women and children.

Their reason for leaving is clear.

“They’ve seen family members killed, they’ve seen friends killed,” says Rob Myers of DOOR International. “Betrayal is a very real issue in South Sudan.”

Yet, hope remains.

“The words of eternal life are beginning to come to the Deaf in South Sudan. That is the one thing that can bring hope in the midst of this very, very, very difficult situation.”
Pray for South Sudan
Though scores of people are leaving South Sudan daily, Deaf people stay. It’s not necessarily a choice they make willingly; the Deaf have little-to-no financial resources.

This oft-overlooked people group truly is the “least of the least,” says Myers.

Unreached Deaf people watch attentively as one of DOOR’s Deaf church planters signs the Gospel.(Photo, caption courtesy of DOOR International)

“Deaf people need hope there, maybe even more than any other place in Africa right now,” he states.

“For the most part, the Deaf children have absolutely no access to education…. That also means it’s very difficult for them to get access to training or trade skills so they can maintain a job.”

DOOR International translates the Bible into sign languages so they can train Deaf missionaries to share the Gospel and plant Deaf-led churches. South Sudanese Deaf have been working with DOOR since 2015.

Myers shares, “There was one particular passage that was brought back to the Deaf community after it was translated; it was Genesis 18. It’s the story of Abraham receiving three strangers and showing hospitality to them — inviting them to come and rest, preparing a meal for them, and serving them.

Deaf people discuss God’s Word.(Photo, caption courtesy of DOOR International)

“That story had an incredibly radical impact on the Deaf people who were there. One of the women explained why the passage had such meaning to her and, what she signed to our leaders she said, ‘God’s Word is teaching us that we don’t need to allow our past experiences to hinder us.’
“Instead of being suspicious and instead of living in fear, God’s calling her and God’s calling other people in the Deaf community to come together and to begin to trust again.”
Some of DOOR’s leaders are in South Sudan this week working with Deaf church planters. Deaf evangelists are using sign language Scripture to share the Gospel.

Please ask the Lord to bring hope and healing to South Sudan.
Learn more about Deaf church planting here.
Support a Deaf church planter through DOOR International.