When Morgen Cash speaks of the men, women and children she ministers to, she refers to them as “our Beloveds.” She says it in a reverent tone with an earnestness so powerful it’s as though she’s wrapping her arms around each of them in an embrace of divine love and acceptance.
She longs for them to hear the words themselves, but they never will. Their world is one of silence and isolation. They are among the 466 million people — over 5 percent of the world’s population — who have disabling hearing loss.
Deaf people who live in rural areas of developing nations — such as Peru, Morgen’s current mission field — most likely know no language. They cannot read, write or communicate beyond limited, simple gestures and sounds only family members understand. They are living — and dying — without hope.
Morgen, who serves as an International Minister through Missions Door, is dedicating her life’s work to bringing a resounding message of hope to the deaf: “Though society may have marginalized you, Jesus loves you. You are valued. You are beloved,” she says.
Morgen works with Signs of Love, an international ministry that strives to “love, teach, evangelize, disciple, and church the rural, disenfranchised deaf in developing nations.” The outreach began 21 years ago in northern Honduras and expanded to Peru in 2017.
Finding the Beloveds
Morgen is one of two full-time missionaries working with Signs of Love in Peru. Their home base is Cajamarca, a city of 75,000 people. From there, they minister to five rural villages within a three-hour bus ride through a rugged, mountainous region that reminds her of her native Colorado.
Upon arriving in a village, she knocks on doors and asks residents if they know of any deaf people in the community. Sometimes she has to hike up mountains or traverse deep ravines to reach her Beloveds. Communicating and building trust with the deaf and their families can be challenging, to say the least.
“Peru has its own culture,” says Morgen, who served four months with Signs of Love in Honduras before following God’s call to Peru. “Each country has its own unique sign language. Our Beloveds also have their own subculture, too. They are very visual and communicate through motions specific to their culture.”
“The longer they are deprived of language has a definite impact on their ability to learn,” Morgen continued. “One of our goals in teaching the Gospel is to help them exercise their brain and lead them to think in deeper ways.”
The curriculum taught to Beloveds, Morgen says, is almost 100% written and illustrated by Signs of Love. The first lesson is The Fall (Good vs. Evil). Then, in order: Creation of Heaven & Earth; Adam & Eve; Abraham; Moses, the Israelites and the Wilderness; Jesus’ Life & Miracles and finally the Death and Resurrection.
Each lesson starts with prayer. Then, Morgen shows her Beloveds flash cards and teaches them the signs for each picture. They may also be given the sign and asked to find the corresponding flash card.
“We then put it all together and tell a Bible story using all the signs learned. For instance, the parable of Jesus feeding the 5,000. We use cards showing people, bread, fish and Jesus,” Morgen said. “Our Beloveds really get excited when we ask them to perform dramas of what we’ve learned in the lesson.”
Each person learns at their own pace, but the approach is working, Morgen says.
“One of our Beloveds is a man in his early 40s. He knew no language before the age of 38. Despite having trouble signing and recalling signs taught to him, he connects intensely with the Bible stories we teach him and can sign them flawlessly. He is so excited to act it out! It truly is the Lord working through him!” Morgen says.
Another Beloved is a young woman who is blind as well as deaf. “She learns by feeling. She has been through so much trauma that it’s difficult for her to comprehend. She has difficulty remembering most signs,” Morgen says. “But she remembers how to sign ‘Jesus loves me’ and ‘Jesus is strong’ without prompting. That is the only thing she always remembers. She doesn’t know how to sign her name without us prompting her, but she always remembers that Jesus is strong and He loves her!
Support and Prayers Needed
Morgen’s ministry and living expenses are 100% funded by support from churches, family and friends. “So far, we’ve reached about 100 Beloveds in Peru. What we’ve accomplished is a testament to the vision of the Lord,” she says.
While she would certainly welcome more monetary donations to support her ministry, Morgen says there is a greater need.
“We need more people who want to join us in doing this amazing work here in Peru,” she says. “We need people who will become passionate in helping us reach the many Beloveds who are here. Pray for us, that we can continue to reach this whole population of Beloveds that most people don’t know about.
How Can You Help
The Great Commission is what spurs us to do indigenous ministry. Around the world, Christians are making disciples in their hometowns and bringing the gospel to their people. How will you be a part of that?