Does Jesus Know Sign Language?

by DanWolgemuth on August 5, 2022

The video rolled… all 3 minutes and 53 seconds of it.

Watch the video here, Deaf Teen Quest – Ajah’s Story.

It told a story. Actually, several stories. Of a mission, of a message, of a passion for the overlooked and silenced.

Ellen Kameraad was the storyteller. But there was no mistake that it was Jesus that authored this story. Ellen is a bright and talented part of our Youth For Christ team. She is deeply committed to bringing the ultimate Good News to deaf young people in West Michigan.

As I watched Ellen communicate with young people who often feel isolated and disconnected, it was like watching a linguistic ballet. Hands expressing what resides deep in the soul. Facial expressions punctuating every sentence. It was moving.

Then a thought… a ponderous thought. Did Jesus know sign language? Would the Messiah, the Savior of the world have been stymied by an inability to communicate with this audience?

Then a flood… of Jesus stories. The depth of His love washed over me with confidence and hope.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5, ESV)

Not audible, but present. The Word. Light in the darkness. Vivid. Unavoidable. Present.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

The Word in the flesh. The ultimate language of love. Impacting every aspect of our lives. Without a single sound.

Yes, even prenatal Jesus impacted His aunt and cousin. Without any senses engaged, Jesus was Jesus. Awe inspiring. Sign language from the womb.

Mary got up and traveled to a town in Judah in the hill country, straight to Zachariah’s house, and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby in her womb leaped. She was filled with the Holy Spirit, and sang out exuberantly (Luke 1:39-42a, MSG)

Then, the clincher. One of the most descriptive verses in all of scripture…

And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. (Luke 15:20, ESV)

The Father… saw, felt compassion, ran, embraced and then kissed him. Redemptive and restorative sign language without a single word.

Indeed. Jesus knows sign language.

That means that not only is He communicating to us in this powerful way, but He’s also listening intently to our inner soul.  The soundless words that spring from our heart… He hears.  He knows.  He cares deeply. 

And then there is the most profound sign of love and forgiveness in all of human history.  Yes, the cross and an empty tomb. 

Bless you, Ellen. Thank you for representing our King, our Savior, our Lord. I see Jesus in every move of your hands and every smile on your face.

Nobody overlooked. Nobody ignored. The language of love. The signs that matter most.

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I Got It Wrong, or Did I?

by DanWolgemuth on July 22, 2022

For years I’ve enjoyed quoting Thomas Friedman in his noteworthy book, The World Is Flat. Nearing the end of this work he sets the criteria from which to judge the worth of a culture. In essence, Friedman says that you “judge a culture, society, or organization, by whether it has more dreams than memories, or more memories than dreams.”

This quote inspires and motivates me. Dreams and memories. Celebrating the past without extinguishing the future. Memories as a foundation, on which the future can be built. As I said, I’ve used this quote on platforms and laptops… frequently.

Yet, over the last several weeks, I’ve come to believe that the character of a culture is best judged by something entirely different. I believe that you judge a culture, a government, a society, and perhaps, even the individual human heart by how it cares for the vulnerable.

The vulnerable. The exposed. The defenseless.

History is littered with stories of leaders, and societies that abuse power at the expense of the vulnerable. Personal or political power with the vulnerable as fuel. Expendable. Grist for the mill.

Personal power, rights and autonomy above all else.

Oliver Warbucks, in the stage play, Annie, puts it this way… “It doesn’t matter who you step on, on the way up, as long as you never plan on coming back down.”

The weak, as rungs on the ladder for the powerful.

The vulnerable…

On urban streets. In under resourced communities. In undervalued neighborhoods. Among the mentally ill. Within the cloistered confines of the elderly. With the unattractive and awkward. With the poor. For those who are unprotected as bombs, planes and missiles fly. For the unborn, and those birthed into unhealthy environments. Even in classrooms… vulnerability exists.

For those who are underrepresented in the courtroom. Undervalued in nursing homes. Unprotected when voiceless. Neglected when powerless. Discarded when intrusive or inconvenient.

This is why the message of Jesus is so countercultural. He left invincibility to become vulnerable. That journey started in the womb of a teenager and ended on the cross of injustice. The vulnerable were a priority in His mission, and the center of His heart. He practiced what he preached.

He said… ever so clearly, that HE WAS hungry, thirsty, a stranger, naked, sick and in prison. He was vulnerable. Yes, Jesus. The Son of God.

Yet, I can’t help wondering if maybe Friedman didn’t get it wrong. Maybe I did.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s my dream that needs to be recalibrated. Rearchitected. Revisited and revised.

On behalf of the vulnerable. More dreams than memories. A louder voice for the silent. Bolder advocacy for the weak. Increased generosity for the poor.

As stewards. As ambassadors. As friends. As members of the Body of Christ.

More dreams than memories… now, under further review. On the journey to dreaming the dream of Jesus.

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