Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008
Charles and Mary Swanner
The Deaf of Uruguay
In a country that once forbade its Deaf to sign, missionary Mary Swanner, from North Carolina, is something of a pioneer. That’s because she’s dedicated more than 20 years of her life to teaching Uruguay’s Deaf about Jesus through sign language.
Mary says much of her early ministry was spent simply earning trust. The Deaf are often wary of the hearing world, and because much of society considers them to be inferior, teaching them about God’s love is especially challenging.
“The Deaf are suspicious of hearing people and their motives for getting close to them,” Mary says. “All this compounds the resistance to the gospel.”
For several years Swanner’s team didn’t see any fruit from their labor. But in 2002, they began planting Deaf churches where entire services were conducted in sign language. Deaf congregations soon began to grow.
Mary and her husband, Charles, plan to retire in about five years. They’re praying God will raise up new leaders to carry on the work among the Deaf in Uruguay.
Pray the Lord will raise up bold believers within Deaf churches and that they will continue to spread His word throughout Uruguay.