“It’s Important to Be with them”, Says Leader of a Deaf Fellowship

By Yi Yang, February 25, 2016 02:02 AM

The fellowship for the deaf of Hefei Shuangqi Church

A special group that covers only one percent of the global population live near us. They are hearing-impaired people, easy to be discriminated and hard to communicate with the outside world.

In July, 2015, World Federation of the Deaf held its international meeting in Istanbul, Turkey. Before this, the company of Samsung in Turkey shot a public service advertising video: in a community people learn the sign language secretly to give a surprise to their deaf neighbor, which really moves him deeply.

In Hefei, Anhui, China, local Christians in a church are doing something like this, which lasts for a year and will continue. Below is the story about some Christians who volunteer to serve the vulnerable group ignored by the society.

Gao Xianglei who has normal hearing, enjoys spending time with the deaf Christians on Sunday mornings almost every week, even though it takes him 3.5 hours' train from Fuyang, a city to Hefei.

Born in a small city in Anhui, Gao Xianglei works as a technician for after-sale installing and fixing medical equipments. He became a believer of Jesus in 2012 although he knew Christianity since young from his grandmother. After becoming a Christian, he lived a normal life, working as before. While in March, 2014, an encounter with a deaf man let him start to know and care the special group.

"That deaf man was begging for money with a notebook in his hands. When he came to me, I didn't shake my head to refuse but wanted to see if he was a real deaf man or not." says Gao. Then Gao tried to talk with the man but founded that he couldn't speak, just keeping doing gestures with his hands. The gestures not able to read recalled his desire to learn the sign language.

Later he joined in a charitable training program to learn the sign language and memorized the words in his spare time. After half a year, he was able to simply communicate with the deaf. He knew a Christian from a church for the deaf in Hefei who is hard of hearing (can hear by wearing hearing aid) through Wechat, a popular online chatting platform.

The fellowship for the deaf of Shuangqi Church, founded on July 5, 2015 in Hefei, serves the deaf group to secure care and respect they should have, owning more than 20 members. He joined in the fellowship and began his care ministry. In a short time he acquired the "mandarin" and the "dialect" languages. 

Gao who is now in charge of the fellowship says the deaf hardly contact others except talking with their families due to the language obstacle. Besides, employment is a problem for them. Usually they only can work in electronic factories, engaging in labor-intensive industry with six-day work and low income. Gao says, "I'm considering to learn how to make handmade soaps to help the deaf change their working situations."

Like Gao, born in 1991, Yu Min who graduated from Anhui Theological Seminary peaches sermons in the church. In the beginning she didn't know how to serve the deaf, but afterwards she began to learn simple sign language. Gradually she can provide help for them. She is excited when recalling their performance at Christmas in 2015. 

After the foundation of the fellowship, the church decides to reserve a program for the deaf every Christmas or in any other large church activity in order to make believers without hearing problems know and care more about the special group. Over ten deaf members showed "singing "performances in the sign language following with Gao's rhythm. 

Their innocence and joy influence the normal members in the church, making people face life more positively. However, Gao says that it's important to be with them if you want to have better communication with them even though you can do simple sign language. "I can't be always with them because of my work. We have only half a day to be together in a week, which is currently hard to be solved ." He expects to devote himself into the ministry of serving the deaf in the future.

The ministry for the deaf in China can be dated from 1887, which has a history of about 130 years. Pastor Charles R. Mills and his wife of American Presbyterian Mission founded the school for the deaf in Yantai, Shandong in 1887. Later they promoted the education of the deaf. Until 1937 China had eleven schools of the deaf. In 1987, the 100th year of its foundation, the school in Yantai was renamed Yantai Center School for the Deaf and Dumb, which was renamed "Yantai Special Education School" in April, 2013. 

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