During the third year of our first term in China after learning Chinese sign language, we had a worker from another organization approach my wife and asked if she or anyone we knew could speak Chinese sign language.
To her amazement, my wife said, “Actually I do!” As it turns out a couple members of their team worked in the local orphanage. They had a boy named Li there who was 13 years old. He was Deaf, could not read or write and no one at the orphanage could sign. Because of this he was breaking out, stealing, getting caught by the police, being drug back to the orphanage, being beat up by shopkeepers caught him stealing etc.. The orphanage director had decided that, in the next year, they would ship this boy off to the adult care facility of the city, which is usually reserved for people with mental and physical disabilities so bad they can’t care for themselves. That’s when we started getting involved. We met with these team members and started to talk about ways we could help.
Our answer was to start filming my wife signing Chinese Sign Language while I spoke the words into our phone. We probably sent them 100, 150 different vocabulary words in Chinese Sign Language, answered all the questions that we could, and even started getting our Deaf friends involved so we could help Li.
We introduced this couple to our Deaf friends and shortly thereafter had to leave the country because our term was over and are visas were expiring. About two months later we got a message from these workers. They said Li was responding extremely well. He was progressing in his reading and writing lessons, his behavior, and was all around improving. In fact Li got to the point where the orphanage director reversed his decision and said he could stay at the orphanage. Of course this meant that he was able to continue his education. Then when he ages out of the orphanage, he should be able to have a normal, real life. Of course we’re also trusting that these workers, when their Chinese sign language reaches a certain level of skill, will also be able to present the gospel to Li in a meaningful way.
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