Louisville Deaf church engages Buenos Aires
    November 6 2014 by Anne Harman, International Mission Board

    Drawn by tens of thousands of Deaf people who live in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with no church to call their own, a small group from Louisville Baptist Deaf Church recently traveled to the capital city to investigate how God could use them to share His gospel.
    For Larisa Martin, the trip to Argentina was an opportunity to pass forward the Good News that changed her life years before in her native Kyrgyzstan, when a missionary introduced her to Jesus Christ. For her husband, Dwight, it was fulfilling the Great Commission – the responsibility of all Christians to teach the nations about a growing relationship with God’s Son.
    For Benjamin Rogers, the trip offered an opportunity to practice a new language – in addition to his knowledge of American Sign Language and the sign languages of Ukraine, Russia and Mexico – couched in his love for missions. For his pastor, Tim Bender, the trip was a first step in leading his entire congregation to “embrace” the city of Buenos Aires.
    In summer 2011, the International Mission Board (IMB) unveiled the “Embrace” challenge. The idea is simple: To reach the ends of the earth with the gospel, IMB needs Southern Baptist churches to become “missionaries” to the world’s 3,000-plus unengaged, unreached people groups (UUPGs). More than 100 Deaf people groups have no access to the gospel in their heart sign language.


    IMB photo
    Louisville Baptist Deaf Church member Benjamin Rogers (second from right) discusses where their volunteer team will prayer walk with pastor Tim Bender, while church members Larisa Martin (third from right) and Dwight Martin also discuss the plan.


    The Louisville team represented the first Southern Baptist Deaf church to embrace a city with the intention of planting a Deaf church there. While ministries that provide outreach to the Deaf exist in Buenos Aires, there is no evangelical Deaf church in the city. The members of Louisville Baptist Deaf Church know God can use them to change that.

    National conference

    Sharing the gospel with Deaf Peoples worldwide was one focus for the 269 messengers gathered at Lake Yale Baptist Conference Center in Leesburg, Florida, July 12-18 for the 2014 Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf. Deaf Southern Baptist youth, representing the Junior Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf, launched the celebration with a parade of flags followed by a presentation by 44 volunteers, wearing traditional dress representing the many countries where the Deaf are without scripture.
    IMB’s ministries include efforts to craft the Bible into various signed languages of Deaf communities around the world. Missionaries told conference attendees about ongoing projects among Deaf people groups, laboring alongside Deaf nationals to accurately move God’s Word from a printed format to a signed one. With most Deaf worldwide being non-literate learners, available printed Bibles usually remain inaccessible to Deaf People who do not know Jesus. IMB Deaf ministries combine storying, church planting and Bible crafting to evangelize and transform Deaf communities. 
    During the conference, Danny Bice and Larry White, pastors of Deaf churches in Oklahoma, presented a challenge during the commissioning of the Young* family, IMB representatives who serve among the Deaf of South Asia. Also representing IMB were Mark and Vesta Sauter, who serve as the global strategy leaders for the Deaf peoples of the world, as well as seven couples serving as Deaf missionaries among Deaf communities in 11 countries. 
    The missionaries identified 22 specific countries where Bible projects are either already in place or are anticipated being established in the near future. Financial limitations often stand between missionaries and their goals, they reported. The workers also are challenged in locating national workers to assist in the projects, especially in countries where local laws and culture make an open Christian witness dangerous.


    Good News in Buenos Aires

    Louisville Baptist Deaf Church knows thousands upon thousands of Deaf people around the world are waiting to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. Bender led the church in studying a map of the world which highlights the major cities with Deaf populations that need assistance in reaching the Deaf population with the gospel.
    “For almost a year, we did research into those areas,” Bender said. “We presented them to our members during worship services. We showed them maps and pictures and showed them the statistics and the languages used. … We narrowed it down to four different countries and cities.
    “And we prayed about it, and almost all of us felt that Buenos Aires was the place (to embrace) because there are approximately 70,000 Deaf people in Buenos Aires, and there are no Deaf churches. And that really touched our hearts.”
    Even though they are in the beginning stages of embracing the city, Louisville Baptist Deaf Church has a focused goal: to plant a Deaf church, and to empower the Deaf people of Buenos Aires to reach their city with the Savior so many people wait to know.
    *Name changed



    (EDITOR’S NOTE – Anne Harman writes for the International Mission Board in South America.)
    11/6/2014 11:28:23 AM by Anne Harman, International Mission Board | with 0 comments
    Filed under: Argentina, deaf ministry, IMB

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