Here are just a few stories from our most recent annual deaf camp. Please pray that God would continue to work in these lives as well as those not represented here with stories but that were tremendously impacted by those 3 special days!
(All stories and videos written and made by Robin Harter)
We first learned of this young man about 10 years ago when some teachers from his village contacted us to inform us that there was a young deaf boy dying from starvation. We went to this boy’s village, found his home, and his parents brought us to where he was kept. There he was…curled up in a ball, skin and bones, malnourished and left on the tabletop to die. When I asked his parents what was wrong, they simply & coldly stated, “He’s sick.” You see, when they realized he was deaf, they thought it was pointless to feed him. They were starving him to death. God had different plans for this boy. We dispelled the myths his parents believed about deafness, bought him the necessary medicine and nutrition he needed to get well, and started loving him like he’d never known! About a year later he was integrated into our language programs, and we have watched him grow into the young man he is today – capable and determined! This young man was engaged in this year’s camp like never before. He was soaking in all the teachings and dramas. On the last day, he was captivated by the sermon, and afterwards shared how he wanted more…he wanted more of Jesus Christ in His life. He wanted to feel more of His presence. He wanted to be connected with Christ for forever. We prayed with him the sinner’s prayer, and celebrated with all the heavenly hosts his embarkation on the process of sanctification. It doesn’t get any better than this. A life changed for eternity. A life that was once believed to be worthless is now known to be priceless. Celebrating the Truth that love can be heard by all!
At Signs of Love, we believe that nothing we do for His kingdom is done in vain, even when it doesn’t look like we’re making a difference at all, we believe we are – at some point in time – somewhere – somehow, lives are being changed. For the past 12 years, SofL missionaries have loved and invested into the lives of the Deaf children at the local special education school, and for the past 3 years we have poured into their lives daily.
If anybody would have told us what we were about to witness at camp, probably none of us would have believed it. This is a group of youth who are no different than any other group of teenagers – they have their cliques, arguments, prejudices, selfish tendencies, and all the other challenges that come along with being a teenager. Additionally, this group has unique challenges at home and school, and so for them, camp has always been an anticipated time to getaway. This year, they came to camp with a different attitude, and their actions showed it…they wanted to give instead of receive – they wanted to serve instead of be served – they wanted to comfort others instead of cultivating cliques – they wanted to love instead of gossip. . . it’s as if we almost didn’t believe what our eyes were seeing! Their actions were so different from anything we’ve ever seen from this group, and it was inexplicably inspiring to all of us who so intimately know them. We got to see fruit! The hours and hours and hours that have been invested into them were not spent in futility. This reminded us that we must never give up…we must continue believing that a difference IS being made, even when we cannot see it. Onward we go, investing, teaching, believing, knowing that LIVES ARE BEING CHANGED. THE KINGDOM IS ADVANCING. HIS LOVE CAN BE HEARD BY ALL.
Meet Norbin. He was brought to us these past few months, having no way to communicate. From the few SofL language programs he has been to, he’s learned just enough sign language to communicate his wants and desires. He makes us all laugh with his newly learned language. He had seen some photos from last year when we had village camps at the SofL mission house, and all the children were able to go to the beach, swim, and play with beach balls. Ever since he saw the photos, he has been asking the SofL staff, “Where’s the beach?” What’s funny about this is that it’s nonstop. When we’re in his village, he asks, “Where’s the beach?” When we’re in the SofL van, he asks, “Where’s the beach?” When he came to camp, he asked every 5 minutes, “Where’s the beach?,” as he carried around a blowup beach ball! We finally decided to make this boy’s dream come true…so we snuck him away from the other children and took him to the beach! You should have seen him as we pulled up to the beach – his eyes were as wide as the sea, and then he asked a new question: “How far does the sea go?” It baffled his mind, and he threw off his shirt and ran in, getting dizzy along the way, and laughing like crazy! When we returned to camp, he never asked again, “Where the beach?” He knew. His curiosity was fulfilled and he completed his mission. We’re looking forward to see what his next curiosity will be. The remainder of camp, every craft Norbin made included his name and a drawing of the ocean. For Norbin, camp was more than just 3 days of fun. It was a time of learning many new things (like how to spell his name correctly), and understanding so many things – from the beach to the truth that Jesus loves him.