How one Deaf couple is bringing the gospel to their people.
A police jeep charges through alleys and side streets. A gang of angry men on motorcycles pursues them, ignoring the commands of the police to stop. Soon, with nowhere left to go, the jeep screeches to a halt. The officers jump out to confront the bikers. Things get physical, and the angry mob outnumbers the police.
Though this sounds like it could be the climax of an action film, it’s what really happened after Vincent and Sofia, two Deaf believers in South Asia, married against her parents’ wishes.
Born Deaf, Born Again
Vincent was born Deaf. His family followed a traditional religion of the region, but in his mid-twenties, he became a Christian after a Deaf friend shared the gospel with him. However, a few bad experiences in different churches and some disputes about what was taught caused him to become disillusioned. He swore to never be involved with a church again.
But God had other plans for Vincent. One day, a DOOR (Deaf Opportunity OutReach) International missionary invited him to a church where teaching happened in proper sign language. Soon, Vincent began to follow the DOOR missionaries wherever they went and offered to help them with their evangelism. He eventually became an expert CBS (Chronological Bible Stories) storyteller, sharing God’s Word in chronological order since that’s the way many Deaf prefer to learn.
In another city, Sofia was also born Deaf. Her family followed a non-Christian religion different from Vincent’s family, but when she was 21, a Deaf friend invited her to church. She enjoyed the atmosphere and began attending regularly. Soon, she became a Christian and was baptized without her parents knowing.
“I was someone who was scared about everything in life,” Sofia said. “I used to have this sacred thread tied on my wrist, which was believed to ward off evil spirits. But going to church regularly changed my life. I started experiencing positivity and met people who cared about me. People were supporting me and praying for me. Eventually, I gave my life to Jesus and removed the thread.”
Sofia dreamed of traveling, but her world was no bigger than her hometown, and it didn’t seem likely to grow. However, when a DOOR missionary introduced her to Vincent, his experiences fascinated her. After many long conversations signing over Skype, the two eventually decided to marry in secret.
The Car Chase Honeymoon
When Sofia’s family learned about the marriage, they accused Vincent of kidnapping her and got the police involved. After reviewing the documents and the testimony of Sofia and Vincent, the authorities saw through the lie. But that didn’t calm the mob of angry family and community members.
Ordered by a judge to protect the couple, the police decided to personally transport Vincent and Sophia from the station. But when the mob chased down the police jeep, the officer driving was told to return to headquarters. It seemed hopeless for the young couple. Thankfully, the crowd eventually settled down, and the police could sneak Vincent and Sofia to the region’s border. In an ironic scene (the kind only God can orchestrate), they happened upon a vehicle covered in flowers returning from another wedding. The police instructed the driver of the car to drive Vincent and Sofia as far away as possible.
Despite all the obstacles along their path, the newlyweds knew they were meant to be together—in marriage and in ministry.
To understand what DOOR International is, it’s important to start by understanding that deafness is more than a lack of hearing. Most Deaf don’t consider their deafness to be a disability, but rather, an important part of their identity.
If you are hearing, you may be tempted to see sign language as simply a means of communication for people who can’t make use of an auditory language. But to do so ignores the unique cultures developed in and by sign languages. Whether signed or spoken, a person’s heart language forms a key component of their cultural identity.
DOOR International exists to bring God’s Word and Christian fellowship to the Deaf around the world. They accomplish these goals primarily through translating the Bible into local sign languages and sending Deaf storyteller teams to evangelize using the new translations. Additionally, DOOR uses technology like video recordings to advance its mission.
For Vincent and Sofia, joining DOOR was an obvious choice, but not an easy road. Sofia had to learn multiple new sign languages from other regions to begin sharing the Bible stories in each community’s heart language.
Long commutes, flooding during the wet season, and frequent rejections were normal. But the two remained undeterred.
“God is good,” Vincent told us. “In two years, we have set up six different churches in the state with 859 members.”
And as for Sofia’s family?
Well, about two years after their escape, Sofia’s mother contacted the two of them unexpectedly. They took a risk and shared their address, which led to a joyful and tearful reunion. When the couple visited Sophia’s hometown, her parents further signaled their desire for peace by offering gifts as a truce. Vincent and Sophia treasured the moment, thanking God for one more prayer answered.