“Thou shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind: I am the Lord” (Lev 19:14). The role of the church is to embrace everyone with love and full dignity. The church is a place where all members are accepted equally despite their various differences. The church must consider the barriers that prevent anyone, especially those with disability, from participating fully in church activities. The Deaf Ministry at Friends Church Ngong Road started in 2009.
It serves as a spiritual haven for believers with hearing impairment.
The ministry started with a Deaf couple. Since then it has grown into leaps and bounds and has served as a spiritual haven for believers with hearing impairment. In an interview, Samwel Akiri, who is the administrator of the Deaf Ministry, reveals that the service has greatly impacted the church. Apart from having a sign language interpreter during the Sunday Service, F.I.C has an empowerment programme where they hold seminars for the Deaf.
The church also involves them in income-generating activities. “Working with Persons with Disability is a key way to demonstrate God’s love and the
churches role as a community leader and advocate,” notes Edgar Ala. It is rare to find churches that have mainstreamed the Deaf Ministry.
FIC is one of the few mainstream churches that have embraced the Deaf Ministry. This fact was recently highlighted in a program aired on the national broadcaster KBC TV. In the program FIC was profiled as a church that is disability friendly. Pastor Simon Khaemba reiterates that Jesus walked alongside all types of people, showing no partiality in His ministry. He saw ALL people as bearers of the image of God and desired to share His Kingdom with everyone, especially those whom society deemed unworthy. Pastor Khaemba adds that Luke 14 urges all believers in Jesus Christ to go out and bring in people with disabilities to the body of Christ. If the Christian community understood this, they would make our churches more accessible. The congregations would be more inviting, the leadership would be more supportive, and our Christian community would be barrier-free.
Working with Persons with Disability is a key way to demonstrate God’s love and the churches role as a community leader and advocate.
Therefore FIC believe that disability is an opportunity to powerfully demonstrate the love of Jesus and the Church’s compassion in action. Let us all remember that at the end the King will say: “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Mat 25: 31-40).