The imam placed his copy of the Quran carefully on the table and called the men at the memorial service to attention. He opened the book, lifted his hands toward heaven and began to chant in honor of the man who had died.
A Deaf believer describes how the Bible came alive when its stories were presented to him in his heart language, signing, for the first time.
The Deaf men in the room copied the stance but remained silent, as they couldn’t hear the verbal entreaty. At least the men were able to see the ceremony; the Deaf women in the next room covered their heads and wondered what was happening.
One thing was certain, the dead man’s soul was in danger. Allah does as he wills, and no Muslim is ever certain whether he will accept their works and obedience.
Maybe Allah will accept this, the men said to one another at the memorial service. Maybe.
David Gregory*, an IMB worker among Deaf people, felt overwhelmed by the sense of hopelessness in the room. Even his friend Tamar*, a man who is Muslim by birth but pays no heed to his religion under normal circumstances, was nodding his head and adding to the imam’s commentary. “Allah,” he muttered, “Allah.”
After the service, the mood lightened with a memorial meal. David and Tamar talked with the group of men over tea.
“If we keep giving him tea, one day he’ll be Muslim like us,” Tamar joked.
“No, but I pray for you to become a Christian and follow Jesus,” David said.
“Me? You pray for me?” Tamar asked.
Southern Baptists partner with local believers to share the good news of Jesus with Deaf peoples around the world, including hard-to-reach places, or places not openly receptive to the gospel.
When David assured Tamar that he regularly prays for him, he was stunned. He just sat there speechless.
David and his wife Kelly* met Tamar and his wife Nadia* more than a year ago. Kelly and Nadia are good friends now, but Tamar has always kept his distance and never shown interest in David or his faith until now.
“Prior to this, I had all of three conversations with Tamar, all of them superficial,” David said.
But now Tamar is eager to spend time with David. Some of the Deaf men planned a trip recently and Tamar agreed to go only if David was going to be there.
David and Kelly are in awe of how God is working even through the hopelessness of the memorial service and the casual banter over tea. And they are praying that Tamar will continue to respond to their friendship and prayers.
“Pray for Tamar and his wife. Pray for them to see the light of Christ in our lives, our words and our love for them,” David said.
Learn more about Southern Baptists’ ministry among the world’s 35 million Deaf at imb.org/deaf, including an infographic about Deaf peoples. Watch this video about Southern Baptists at work among Deaf peoples and alongside national partners. Gifts through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering support Southern Baptists such as David and Kelly in Central Asia who are taking the gospel to Deaf peoples around the world who have never heard it.
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Reported by the communications staff of the International Mission Board. Reprinted from Baptist Press, baptistpress.com, news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.)