When I say Statements of Faith, I mean those lists of what various churches or ministries believe the Bible teaches about God, humans, Jesus and his gift to us of salvation and the promise of eternal life. You know – those lists of truths you’re asked to affirm in order to join a church, or work for a ministry. It’s not the truthfulness of that information that makes me nervous – it’s actually calling that list of what essentially are doctrinal truths, a “statement of faith.”
It may even be dangerous to say that our church has a “statement of faith.” Because, doctrine we believe only on an intellectual level, even if we have faith in them, is still not faith as God sees it. It leads many to falsely assume that if they agree with those statements of truth, that they then have faith – which they very well may not have.
Faith is like Fire
Faith – true faith is a lot like fire. Let’s assume I was able to write the definitive book on fire, The Complete Book of Fire. And, let’s also assume it was a thoroughly, accurate description of the chemistry of combustion, with lists of all the elements you need to have a fire, how to start a fire, keep it going, cook on it, put it out – a complete book of fire. You would still not actually have fire. Why?
This morning as I finish this blog, I’m in Kenya staring out my hotel window, thinking about the Deaf. They are one of the largest unreached people groups in the world – 30-60 million! The Core Deaf are not hard of hearing, or hearing people who’ve lost their ability to hear, but people who have never heard a sound and whose only language is sign language.
So why am I in Kenya thinking about the Deaf and why should you bother reading the balance of this blog?
To my shame, eighteen years ago, I knew nothing about the Deaf except the guilt I felt living across the street from a Deaf kid when I grew up who I thought was retarded because he spoke funny. I know you’re not supposed to use the word retarded anymore, but God forgive me that’s what I thought of him. And, I’m guessing most of you are as clueless as I was about the Deaf, that’s why this blog.
So, I’m asking you to take ten minutes to get some understanding of this unique people group. My guess is that you know a Deaf person or have a friend who does and they may need you to be their advocate. (Later in this blog, I’ll give you some practical ideas of how you can help a Deaf person.) Here’s what I didn’t know and I doubt you do either:
DOOR International (Deaf Opportunity Out Reach)
For the last eighteen years my primary ministry outside of West Michigan where I live, has been helping the Deaf translate the Bible into sign language. I’m the founding Chairman of DOOR International. Our primary campus is in Nairobi, Kenya with a second in India.
Between the two campuses, over 200 Deaf and hearing staff work 8-12-hour days to bring God’s word to the Deaf of the world. Watch this powerful video to get a better understating for what we do and how. http://www.doorinternational.com/
You may be surprised to know that there isn’t a single Deaf Bible (DVD or video) in any sign language, including American Sign Language anywhere in the world that has been approved by Wycliffe, the largest and oldest Bible translation ministry in the world, except those which have been completed by DOOR. If you’d like to see what a Deaf Bible looks like go to www.deafbibles.com and click on any country flag and follow the prompts.
I recently met with a frustrated father of teenagers. Most Sundays, it was like pulling teeth to get their kids to go to church. So, I asked him if he’d ever sat down and taught his children how to worship?
“Oh sure! I’ve told them how important it is that we worship God, that’s why we go to church,” he answered. “That’s not exactly what I meant,” I said. “Have you taught them how to worship, when they go to church?” Two things were obvious to me; he hadn’t taught his children and he himself was unsure what it meant to truly worship when in church.
So, here are some practical ideas you can pass on to children, grandchildren or those you spiritually mentor.
When you have an important decision to make, to whom do you go for wise, godly counsel?
Years ago, a pastor I knew called me to ask my advice about what kind of car he should drive. I was immediately curious about why he would call me, because although I drive very nice cars, I’m not a “car guy.” I know nothing about engine sizes, suspensions and performance – nothing!
So here was his question; “I’m thinking about buying a Volvo. But I’m concerned about how that might look to the people in my church that their pastor is driving a relatively expensive car. What do you think?
Well, here’s what I was thinking: This guy knows full well I drive a much better car than a Volvo, so of course I’m not going to lecture him about driving pricey cars. He called me because I was safe.
That’s one of the dangers of getting advice from others. We tend to seek out the people who are likely to give us the answers we want.