Marci and Bill Hoover are CWO missionaries working in Zambia. Here Marci tells of her passion and experiences working with the boys in the Deaf ministry.
We have now lived in Zambia for 17 years and we love the ministry the Lord has created here. If you had told me a year ago that I’d be working with Deaf boys in Zambia, I would have laughed heartily at the idea. I have never known a word of sign language, let alone a letter! Little did I know that God had already prepared the hearts of a group of Deaf boys that He would lead to us.
It all started when a sign language teacher approached us at a church in Wyoming during our furlough in November of 2017. He simply asked if we had any Deaf Nephews in our group. We stated that we did not and did not know any Deaf individuals in our area. He requested that we ask. So we did. All our Nephews quickly said they knew Edward, a 16-year-old Deaf boy in their area. We invited Edward to visit us along with a translator.
Edward came and said he and his Deaf friends from school would love to come to CWO. When I asked if the Deaf boys would be hesitant about interacting with us, he said, “No. They know Auntie Marci and Uncle Bill already!” When I asked how they could possibly know us, he replied, “For years we’ve watched the Nephews leave the township to go to CWO. We always felt left behind and wished we could come. But, we knew you couldn’t communicate with us.” I was in shock! They have literally been waiting to be invited!
Our Wyoming sign language teacher, Scott, then visited us and the boys and directed us on how to begin teaching them new English words and Zambian Sign Language. We have since hired a sign language translator and a teacher who is Deaf himself. Now the boys can participate in every program we run!
Most of the boys are malnourished and have therefore been added to our weekly nutrition program. The hearing Nephews have graciously included the Deaf in all of their activities and games and are even learning Zambian Sign Language themselves! This will help to create a more inclusive environment here and in the township for them.
I am learning so much from these young men and their teachers! I’m beginning to understand how very difficult it is to understand the Bible when your vocabulary is limited. As an example, all the boys learned to sign John 3:16 together. They were excited! When we could all sign it fluidly, I stopped and signed, “What does ‘believe’ mean?” They didn’t know. They knew the sign for believe, but not the meaning. “What does ‘eternal’ mean? Who is ‘the world’ referring to?” They did not know. After an hour of explaining the true meaning of the words, their eyes lit up as they suddenly understood why Jesus died for us! I cannot express the joy teacher Lombe, Mr. Chanda the translator, and I felt at that moment!
I am learning to trust that God has better plans for His ministry than I could ever dream up! Scott is now leading a team to work with us, the Deaf boys, and their school in August and we invite you to be a part of that or future annual teams. You do not need to know sign language to be effective! Just have a teachable heart and a desire to love….God takes care of the rest! For more information about our Deaf program, feel free to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.