DID YOU KNOW?
Deaf people are considered the 4th largest unreached people group in the world.
Deaf people are found in every country,
every race, every people group in the world. For these millions of deaf people, a major means of communication is sign language. There are an estimated 200-500 different sign languages around the world, each representing a unique culture and community. Most Deaf people consider the written language that surrounds them as their second language - if they learn to read - making written communication minimally effective, especially in 3rd world countries. Most missionaries working with hearing people have neither the time nor the resources to learn how to reach this unique community in their area. Due to thes factors, and many others, being deaf in a 3rd world country often equals slim chance of ever understanding the plan of salvation. The Deaf remain the 4th largest unreached people group in the world.
My name is Marie Lea-Wilson
I grew up in a godly Christian home, was saved and baptized by the age of 6, and felt called to missions shortly thereafter. In 2008 I graduated with a 3-year Bible degree from Faith Bible institute, and entered nursing school with missions as my goal. To pay for college, I fine-tuned several skills through part-time jobs - teaching children, piano playing, professional clowning - skills that have served me well in ministry. During an intense, 3-week study-abroad trip to Mexico, I realized for the first time I had no way of verbally witnessing to my host family due to the language barrier. I returned to the States looking for immersion opportunities, and in 2011 I had learned enough Spanish to lead a Spanish-speaking woman to Christ. I have since been trained as a certified interpreter at my hospital.
I figured I was ready for the mission field, but God had other plans. After graduating nursing school, I moved to Baltimore and began attending my church's weekly sign language classes out of curiosity, and soon started interpreting parts of services, songs, and joining church Deaf events. Using my clowning and acting knowledge, I co-directed two Deaf dramas, and several people were saved. Later, I started a Sunday school for Deaf children, and a weekly Bible study for Deaf women. In 2013 I personally lead my first Deaf woman to Christ.
I didn't understand why God brought both Spanish and Sign-Language influences into my life, until God connected the two for me during a vacation in Panama. There, in a Spanish-speaking country, I happened to meet a missionary family who were reaching the Deaf. That greatly impacted me, and over the next few months, God clearly called me to go as a missionary to the Deaf in Latin America. Looking for direction, I joined a medical missions team as a Registered Nurse, and God opened the door for me to join a church-planting team in El Progreso, Honduras, which has no current means of reaching the Deaf.
Lead Deaf Hondurans to Christ
I will need to learn LESHO (Honduran Sign Language) and Honduran Deaf culture, likely via immersion in Deaf events and schools, and through 1:1 time with Deaf individuals (the way I learned ASL in the United States). As I become fluent in this new sign language, I will start sharing basic Bible truths with the Deaf, laying the foundation for clearly explaining the Gospel.
Start Deaf Ministries
For any new Christian to properly grow, they must be clearly taught the Bible. I will be organizing and assisting in starting Deaf ministries within the local church, under the authority of the local Pastor.
Teach LESHO to National Christians
LESHO (Lengua de Senas Hondurenas) is the officially recognized Sign Language of Honduras. I want to offer opportunities for hearing believers to learn LESHO and reach the Deaf in their sphere of influence.
Equip LESHO-fluent Christians to Reach the Deaf in Other Cities
I plan to equipe Honduran church-planters-in-training with LESHO and Deaf culture understanding, so they may reach both the hearing and the Deaf in whatever area God calls them to.
Approximately 18,000 deaf people live in Honduras, a Spanish-speaking country in Central America. Honduras is 97% Catholic, and 3% Protestant. Most Deaf people claim to follow whatever religion their parents follow, but upon further investigation, few Deaf actually understand what is going on in any type of worship ritual, or could explain the basic tenants of their belief system. As a member of Team Honduras, I plan to learn Honduran Sign Language, lead Deaf Hondurans to Christ, and assist the missionary team to begin a Deaf ministry. As the missionary team trains future church-planters in their Bible institute, we will include courses on Honduran Deaf culture and sign language so they may reach their entire community for Christ.
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