I haven’t posted here much in the past couple weeks mainly because in order to post you must have time to breathe. I forgot that’s not something I’m allowed to expect in this adventure. Between classes, work, and college life -Homecoming is important for the first time in 13 years – I’m seeing straight. But barely.
I have started working with a team of people that visit a group home of sorts twice a week. There happens to be a deaf individual in the group for a certain amount of time. Because sign language is seen as my primary language, I was asked to come and interpret so he could be a part of the services. Fantastic! I love my times with this man… It’s sweet to watch his eyes light up because all the sudden… someone actually understands. It’s worth the 6am wake up call.
I had forgotten however, what it’s like to sign with a deaf individual outside of Alaska. Just as any hearing person can tell if you’re from Texas or Maine… Deaf people know accents in sign language. The very first thing *John said to me after the typical deaf greeting was, “Woman, you sign funny!”
Yes. Yes, I do, Sweetheart.
Added to my “Alaskan Accent” is the fact that my cerebral palsy effects my ability to sign with complete accuracy. I’m still understandable, but the first 5minutes with a new audience is filled with crazy laughter as they learn the way my hands work and I learn their speed. When I signed the word, “forgiven” to *John, he took off on a litany of questions that all came down to the same question, “Why would you learn to sign that so weird?!” … Regardless of the culture shock to us both, *John and I have a blast.
One of the pangs to my heart is *John hasn’t received much communication in some time. Because of that, for the first week that I was with him, I let the service become second priority and just let him talk. This ranged from discussing how he got placed in the group to asking me if I had any children. The man was relentless, but one thing was clear. He just wanted information!
Today while I was with him, I asked him to clarify what “believing in Jesus” meant. None of my team knew his story, so in typical me-mode I just got down to the stuff that mattered. *John answered my question beautifully. His eyes filled with tears as he explained that the blood of Christ covered his sins and that because of Jesus’ dying on the cross, *John knew that he had been given eternal life.
Wow… I don’t know how many of you know what it’s like to hear the Gospel in your native language, but it takes your breath away. Both he and I struggle with English (he more than I -obviously) but we were both having so much fun seeing the comprehension in each other’s eyes. God is good.
When we finally agreed on a sign for forgiveness, *John’s simplicity of God’s grace took my breath away. Theologically, Charles Spurgeon would take issue with the way it got left in the end.. But *John gave more passion behind clinging to Grace and the power of the resurrected Son of God than I’ve seen in a very, very long time.
And then, I messed the beauty up. I brought up the topic of praying daily. Along with that I approached the fact that confession of sins is a daily thing- even for believers. *John’s tears came hard, and they came fast. The joy was gone from his eyes as he changed the subject and started telling me about taking a test for his GED.
In fairly typical ASL-way, I interrupted him and drew him back to the original subject and forced out the questions, “Why you hurt?” “What tears mean?” I think the only other time my heart hurt that badly for understanding was… Well, never. What he said next broke me to the core.
“Cassie, I can’t hear. I allowed pray once.. Jesus forgive me then. He not understand me again. How I know what he think if he can’t understand me?”
God gave me the ability to simplify the truth in a way I never thought possible. *John knows he can still communicate with God despite what he assume(d) was a barrier. He doesn’t understand how it’s possible, but he made sure I knew he’d believe it because he trusted my opinion. (This is where the ability to make a person laugh quickly helped a ton.. God knew what he was doing! )
I walked away from today begging God for the one thing most of America sees as a curse. I begged God to prove to *John that God is a deaf God. That somehow, He would be deaf in front of *John.
Hallelujah, God is not hindered by whether the rest of the world understands what He’s doing. When God says He will go to the ends of the earth for anyone… Maybe he meant, “To the deaf, I am deaf, but my love is heard.”