The Deaf Church


We never imagined the creation of a  Deaf Church.  We were still dealing with a church that was in shock after the torture and killings of the Turkish Pastor , his assistant, and our coworker.  The reality of holding the Church together through the fear and the desperation was hard work. Into this time of darkness came a spark of light – a text message from a man named Ahmet.  We met him at a tea house.  We were surprised.  Ahmet was deaf.  We didn’t know sign language.  But he knew how to read and write, and he was hungry to hear about Jesus – so we wrote, and we wrote – when we ran out of paper, we wrote on napkins.  At the end of each conversation, he would take everything home.  He still has the notes in a folder – including the napkins.   And thus began the great adventure that Jesus had planned for us – Ahmet was Jesus’ chosen instrument, this is his story.


Ahmet became deaf as a baby, through illness.  As a child, he had a terrible fear of death.  As a young man, he was a very devout Muslim, praying five times a day, keeping the fasts, studying the Koran.  He was sent to schools for the deaf in other cities, – where they had schools for deaf children.  Strong and quick, he was recruited onto deaf sports teams, and traveled even more, meeting deaf people all over Turkey.


Still a devout Muslim, he joined an Islamic ministry to the deaf, even becoming an assistant Koran teacher.  His former sports team-mates tell of the long nights on the overnight buses, when Ahmet would pass from seat to seat, teaching the Koran instead of sleeping.  He was passionate, he was an aggressive Muslim evangelist… but he was also empty.


Over time, the bitterness grew in him.  Wash as he might, he could never feel clean inside.  Though he fasted, he could not change.  He saw the difference between the Koran teacher’s words, and their lives – he saw his family.  He was angry, hurt and searching.


One day, a text message came.  One of his former Koran Deaf students had met Christians.  He was asking Ahmet about Jesus.  Soon, Ahmet’s interest was piqued – he asked the student to learn if there were any Christians locally.  That student asked the church, and they found us.  So, Ahmet came to drink tea.


We had no sign language.  We had no training – but God was working.  Ahmet saw something different in Jesus – something attractive.  He quickly began bringing his family, his friends.  We would write on blackboards, Ahmet would read it and sign to the deaf.  They would sign their questions back, and he would write them down to us.  It was confusion.  It was laughter.  But God was moving.


Within one year, we had seen a Deaf church form, and fail, and form again.  Within two years we had a core of four believing families, and Ahmet was beginning to reach out to old friends in other cities.  The fact that deaf children were gathered in special schools worked for the Gospel, Ahmet knew people from many cities.  Ahmet was tireless.  He would work 60 hours a week providing food for his family, and be up all night on the internet talking with people from other cities.  Whatever he learned he would pass on.  The aggressive evangelist from the sports night buses was back – but with a different mission.


In February 2015, Ahmet was removed from his job.  When his family asked why, they were told it was because he was a Christian.  Normally Ahmet finds a job very quickly.  But this time, two months passed without him being able to find a job.


After praying with Ahmet for a new job, and asking the Lord what He was doing, several of us began to think that God might be taking us in a new direction.  Ahmet could receive training in Bible Story preparation, and visit seekers in other cities.


The Deaf church was entering a new phase.  And what we could not ever imagined, a church for the deaf, had come to pass.  God was at work in a wonderful way.


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