Visiting A Deaf Church

What’s it like going to a deaf church? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday, I went to a church in New Orleans for the deaf. I did let them know early on that I can hear and for a time, I was talking some since the person I was speaking to could read lips, but then I was speaking too fast so they brought in an interpreter. There were some people at the church who could hear as well, such as the pastor’s wife. When people came and talked to me, they always started with including sign language until I told them, “I can hear and I can’t read sign language at all.”

On my way there, I was thinking about how much we take hearing for granted. What would it be like to live in a world without being able to enjoy music, for instance? I saw they said something about video phones instead of just regular smartphones which left me wondering if there’s a special tool that is available for the deaf so they can use phones. Of course, we use our phones for so much more than phone calls anymore that it doesn’t surprise me that the deaf have phones.

While the deaf can’t hear music, there was still music. It was done by a lady on a screen who would sing and sign at the same time, though I’m sure the audience wasn’t joining in. There was a time for prayer requests and I was surprised to hear updates on previous prayer requests. I don’t think this happens a lot of times in our churches.

The pastor gave his sermon and he signed it entirely while his wife spoke aloud what he was saying. Had that interpretation not been going on, I know I would not have understood any of it. I remember talking to my mother the night before on my Echo who was asking me how I would be able to understand the message. I then explained I didn’t understand it in the Vietnamese and the Chinese church either. (And for that matter, the Arabic church.)

There were also people who were shown on a screen joining in on Zoom. Overall, this was still a small congregation such that I completely passed the church on my first time going by as it looked just like any other small building. I had to go and repark my car at one point because it was too far away from the side of the road and someone was nice enough to help spot me as I left seeing as I had to back out, something difficult for me with the steel rod on my spine.

I am here now thinking that I really need to be able to appreciate more and more that I can hear, which is something we take for granted. At the same time, I am thankful that many in the deaf community are still clinging to Jesus. I sit now and wonder that could it be for some of them, the first sounds they will ever hear will be the words “Well done, good and faithful servant?”

I can’t think of anything that would be a better first sound to hear.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)