John Folker

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Deaf Baptists embrace unreached Deaf peoples

TOCCOA, Ga. (BP)--The Deaf should be in the multitude when, as the Book of Revelation depicts it, every language, people, tribe and nation will worship the Lamb around the throne, says Aric Randolph of New Life Deaf Fellowship in Fort Worth, Texas. But, the Deaf pastor asks, "How will the Deaf be there if they don't know Jesus? "Right now, there are about 35 million Deaf all over the world," Randolph notes. "Every day, 750 Deaf die without knowing Jesus. To be His hands, His heart and to tell His story, we must truly embrace the Deaf of the world." New Life Deaf Fellowship is planning a short-term mission trip -- possibly to the Deaf in a high-risk country. "We go to let them know about Jesus. We go so they can know Jesus as Savior. We go to let them know they, too, can be in heaven," Randolph said. More than 400 Deaf Southern Baptists gathered in Toccoa, Ga., July 16-21 for the Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf (SBCD) and to witness the commissioning of six International Mission Board missionaries to work with the Deaf. IMB President Tom Elliff shared his burden for the millions of Deaf around the world who have never "seen" the name Jesus, challenging Deaf Southern Baptists to embrace a specific Deaf people group from the more than 100 unengaged, unreached Deaf people groups around the world. Jim Dermon, the SBCD's president, echoed Elliff's sentiment. "If we are willing to learn more about Deaf people groups, to visit them, to learn their needs and desires, and to pray for them ... that will lead Deaf to accept the Lord Jesus Christ," Dermon said. "If we embrace the Deaf in other countries, it will affect what we do here in the U.S. and we will see a multiplication of Deaf churches throughout the world." Steven Nance, a Deaf member of Parkwood Baptist Church in Concord, N.C., talked about his short-term trip to the Dominican Republic to reach Deaf children there. Now praying that others also will go there, Nance reminded conference attendees to pray for missionaries who are serving throughout the world to reach the Deaf.