The crowd pressed in on all sides. A lone deaf man stood in the crowd, staring in wonder at the faces around him. Why all this sudden excitement? he asked himself as he watched mouths move and hands gesture in meaningless ways. He tried to ask a woman next to him what was going on, but the she just stared at him in confusion, unable to understand his attempt at speaking words he had never heard. And then, through this roaring silence, the deaf man saw the crowd part as a figure walked in his direction. This Man was not speaking meaningless words. He gently drew the deaf man from the crowd and communicated with him in body language understood by the deaf. Touching his ears and tongue, He looked up to heaven and uttered the first word ever audible to the deaf man: “Ephphatha!”
That scene occurred nearly 2,000 years ago. Today, in Kerala, India, hundreds of Deaf people are hearing the word “ephphatha!” for the first time. This Aramaic word, which means be opened! is resounding in the hearts of Deaf Indians as they receive the first Scripture translation in their heart language, Kerala Sign Language.
After many years of cooperation between Wycliffe and Deaf Opportunity OutReach, an indigenous all-Deaf team of eight recently completed a DVD of signed Scripture, complete with storyboard and signed dictionary. Aaron, a Deaf man who gave his testimony at the DVD dedication, shared about his gratefulness to have Scripture in a language he can understand fully, saying “The Word of God developed in my mind and I could hear.” Aaron, along with many others in his Deaf community, is hearing the Lord say “be opened!” for the first time.
Photo by Elyse Patten
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