By Jennifer Johnson
Jesus often told the people listening to his teaching, “Whoever has ears to hear, let them hear.” In the United States we understand that for the deaf, “hearing” must happen with eyes and teaching must happen with hands using American Sign Language.
But what about those in other countries who can’t hear and have no signs to see? Michelle Zuñiga, an Ozark Christian College graduate, learned both Spanish and sign language to bring the gospel to the deaf in Matamoros, Mexico.
Zuñiga approached Workers for Mexico Mission with the idea of reaching the deaf in Mexico in 2003, and the mission worked with her so she could survey the need and develop a plan. She began volunteering as a teacher in the Mexican public schools, working with deaf students at school and at church, and holding private tutoring sessions. The next year the ministry opened a headquarters building in Matamoros, and in 2005 Con Mis Manos—With My Hands—held its first semester of school.
Today, the ministry also offers residential services for students from abusive homes, and dozens of children attend classes in a new building constructed by volunteers and supporting churches. The deaf children and young adults learn Mexican Sign Language, math, science, art, and physical education as well as practical skills like sewing, carpentry, cooking, and computers. Con Mis Manos also provides students and their families with medical assistance, legal assistance, and clothing.
“The deaf are largely ignored in Mexican education,” says Francis Nash, executive director of Workers for Mexico. “There are few people able to teach them and—in extreme cases—families and some religions consider them ‘demon-possessed.’ Now through education and evangelism, the deaf and their families understand God’s love and salvation. Many graduates are now finding jobs, and baptisms are occurring regularly. This is one of the most unique Restoration Movement ministries in Latin America.”