Sometimes God allows us to be a part of something so amazing that we can not find human words to describe it. This is how I felt during my recent trip to India.
Since we are "storytellers" ... let me tell you the story!
(Written by Mike Buus, President, D.O.O.R.International)
About 7 years ago, we sent a team of two ladies to India to begin their ministry. DOOR had contact with some Deaf who were a part of a group called "The Family". "The Family" had work going on in many parts of India, with thousands of Deaf in about 62 cities. It appeared that this was a wonderful opportunity for us to help the Deaf develop their Bible knowledge and teaching skills through training some of the leaders of "The Family".
DOOR selected 3 Deaf "Family" leaders and one hearing man, who was a Bible College graduate, and brought them to DOOR-Africa for one year of CBS (Chronological Bible Storying) and church planting training. All four were successful in their learning; however, one of them, who had been a significant leader with "The Family", was not happy when he was not chosen as the team leader. He left DOOR. The two remaining Deaf and one hearing man opened a small training center (DOOR-India) and worked with 16 Deaf, all members of various "Family" groups.
As I began to work with our Deaf leaders and these Deaf students, I became very uncomfortable with some of what they had been taught in the past. I began to do some research. To my shock, I discovered that "The Family" was an outreach of a USA cult called the "Children of God". This cult came out of the "free love" movement begun in California.
Once we discovered this, we confronted our trainers with the truth. They were also shocked as they had believed that "The Family" was a Christian Bible believing and teaching church. When we showed them documents and teachings of the cult and compared them to the Bible stories they had learned, they quickly acknowledged that they had been taught falsely. They went out and confronted leaders of "The Family" which lead to a major break, as well as significant opposition and harassment from "The Family" leaders.
DOOR-India's second year of trying to recruit Deaf students was really dismal. Several Deaf who wanted to come were held back by "Family" leaders. A few from Hindu and Muslim families were blocked by their parents. We had a small class and, as we would later learn, some of them were sent as "spies" for "The Family".
The next year, based on what God had been showing us around the world, DOOR decided to close the training center (Deaf Christian Leadership Training Center) and send out our DOOR-India staff "two by two"--- just as Jesus had sent out his disciples.
One of the "spies" who had been sent to us became a true believer after hearing the Bible stories and he left "The Family" and joined our "two by two" team. The two Deaf men who had been the cooks at the training center also joined in an "internship" program. Therefore, we sent out 6 Deaf men to take on the challenge of beginning a ministry to approximately 7 million Deaf in IndiaJ.
From 6 to 500+
In August of 2008, I went to India to encourage the staff and see DOOR's new Sign Language Bible translation team. The Sunday that I was there, the "India True Bible Deaf Fellowship" (a name they gave themselves to distinguish themselves from the false teachings of the cult) gathered over 200 Deaf (men and woman!) from 13 cities throughout southern India. They explained to me that they have over 500 Deaf believers, but only had room in the hall we had rented for 200!
What an amazing thing to see that the majority of them had left "The Family". All but one leader I interviewed was a former "Family" leader! Many of the Deaf believers shared that their Hindu and Muslim families had beaten them, locked them up, thrown them out on the street and cut them off from their inheritance. They told me, "We tell our parents it is fine; we trust God! And Jesus gives us everything we need! We do not need your house or your money." I was just overcome with one testimony after another attesting to how the "sweet Word of God" had become so real and so clear because of the chronological Bible stories that "I can now stand strong because I know who God is and I know His Word".
Together we prayed and dreamed of what God is going to do through His Word and their hands in India. We talked about a day when we would have to rent a football stadium with big screen TVs to hold the Deaf believers.
Seven years ago I would have laughed at that possibility, and been satisfied to see just a few Deaf believers, and a couple of small fellowships.
Now I believe, along with the Deaf, when God says to my spirit"
"Look at the (Deaf) nations and watch-
and be utterly amazed.
For I am going to do something in your days
that you would not believe,
even if you were told. Habakkuk 1:5
I hope you will join me in watching and being amazed. We are part of a "New Testament" gathering of the nations and the Deaf represent a significant group of nations, totaling 25 to 40 million.
Thank you for praying and supporting these faithful Deaf believers as they march forward and bring in the Deaf nations of India!