Empowering Deaf Women in Oppressed Cultures

Deaf people experience many challenges throughout their lives as they move through a world designed for the hearing. For Deaf women, especially in certain cultures, these challenges can be magnified.

A Chance Meeting

Here is *Nihana’s story. Nihana is one person among the millions of Deaf people living in *Marcam, a populous country in Asia. She ran into a DOOR leader, *Mr. R, at the government’s office while she was waiting to receive her monthly pension. Mr. R noticed that Nihana was Deaf, and when he tried to talk to her, quickly realized that Nihana didn’t know sign language.

Mr. R wasn’t surprised, because Deaf women are considered shameful in Marcam, and many are kept at home under oppression by their families. Those individuals rarely meet other members of the Deaf community, so they have no opportunities to learn sign language.

Mr. R invited Nihana to come to a Deaf church in the area the following Sunday. He knew that teaching her sign language would bring joy to her life and show her the love of God in a very tangible way. The next Sunday, Nihana showed up at church. A mixture of confusion and joy rested on her face the entire time as she tried to follow what was happening around her.

One of DOOR’s staff members’ wives invited her to her home. Nihana became a regular at this couple’s home, learning sign language at a voracious rate and joining a group of fellow Deaf women who have been long oppressed by their families. This group meets at the house of two Deaf sisters, who opened their home to this group to teach them basic sign language and about the hope that is found in Christ.

A Gathering of Deaf Women

With God’s help, DOOR International is working with local leaders to change the sad reality for so many of these women. One way we reach out to the Deaf people in the community is by putting on “camps”. These camps can range from one day to three days, ministering to different audiences.

Camps for Deaf women in Marcam are immensely popular. A single two-day camp, completely led by the Deaf for the Deaf, is packed full of Bible teaching, fellowship, food, prayer, worship, and a trip to the water park. And no men to be seen anywhere in the group!

In the United States or other countries, this might not seem like a big deal. A plethora of events and resources are out there for women, including many Bible study groups. In Marcam, many women are not allowed to set foot outside of their houses without their husbands or fathers.

A gathering of Deaf women is out of the norm for this culture. But we are seeing a change in these women. That change is Jesus at work in each of their lives, causing them to boldly share what they are learning.

Empowered to be Role Models

Three Deaf women taught at this camp. For some of these women, it was their first time teaching at such a large event.  *Dimpi confidently shared from Proverbs 31. *Aamani explained about God’s design for marriage from the Bible, and *Gaurika taught about the qualities of a godly wife.

“Hearts were touched by the Word of God,” said one of DOOR’s leaders. “Many of the women cried, sharing testimonies about how they had missed out on learning from their mothers about being wives and mothers.”

"They were not really being shown how to love in a way that honors God.”

They didn’t have godly role models for marriage and family life. Their parents didn’t know sign language, so the language barrier prevented them from a lot of knowledge. The ladies confessed to great suffering in their lives as they tried to figure things out on their own. They were thankful for the new Bible stories that gave them a better understanding of how to live. They were thankful for the promise of God’s help in the process.

Praise God for His faithfulness in empowering His servants to boldly teach, plan, and travel. Pray that God will continue to strengthen these Deaf women to model to fellow Deaf women how to love their husbands and children and live wisely.

*—names changed for security