Jessie Fox and Kathryn Groseclose have worked with many deaf individuals in Honduras, each so special and so loved. But when they met Ana, a young teenager who had started coming to their programs, they couldn’t help being especially captured by her tender and caring heart.
Filled with love for her, they were brokenhearted to discover her home life was abusive and neglectful. Ana’s father had left her mother and siblings, and Ana received the brunt of her mother’s abuse because she was deaf. In response, the entire Signs of Love team was daily on their knees in prayer, pleading God would free Ana from this situation somehow.
Ana had not been allowed to attend their programs anymore, but they persisted in visiting her home. Until one day, they found she was gone. Immediately they praised God for removing her from her abusive home, but wondering where she had gone, they continued to ask God’s protection over her.
Several months later, Signs of Love was leading ministry in another village nearly an hour from where Ana had lived. As they prepared to begin their program, they were stunned to see Ana walk through the door. God was so faithful! He not only delivered her from abuse but also put her in a community with other deaf individuals, giving her language and a place to learn the Bible.
As they continued to work and spend time with Ana, her potential was clear. She was a quick learner and incredibly compassionate toward others. They invited her to a leadership training in La Ceiba where Ana met Maribel, a young member of the Deaf Church who had recently received Christ.
Maribel shared the Gospel with Ana and she made the decision to accept and follow Jesus Christ. Overflowing with joy, Maribel insisted they baptize Ana in the same place she had been baptized just four months earlier.
So, they loaded up in a van and drove to the ocean to baptize Ana in the warm waters of the Caribbean and celebrate her new faith in Jesus. Jessie and Kathryn were filled to the brim with joy to watch leaders they had been discipling go out and lead others.
Ana’s story could have taken a very different turn, but through Signs of Love, God delivered Ana from her oppression. Her faith in Jesus is contagious, and she continues to grow as a leader, sharing her faith with other hurting deaf individuals.
Being His Hands
Compelled by an overwhelming compassion for the deaf in Honduras and an undeniable call from the Lord to serve, both Jessie and Kathryn found their paths leading them to Signs of Love. Jessie and Kathryn are Missions Door missionaries serving on-loan to Signs of Love, a ministry developed and led by Robin Harter, reaching the deaf in Honduras for Jesus Christ.
Kathryn remembers when she felt God’s powerful pull on her heart, “I didn’t feel like there was anything else to be doing. There were people without language who were being oppressed. Signs of Love 100 percent serves others, serving the least of these. There was no doubt this was where I was supposed to be.”
Being His hands, quite literally through sign language, continues to be a beautiful and ever humbling experience. “The deaf are one of the most unreached groups in the world,” says Jessie.
And in Honduras, it’s not just about teaching language. Superstition leads people to believe a deaf person has evil spirits in them. They are often cast aside, neglected, forgotten and isolated, left feeling like they don’t matter and have no value.
Jessie and Kathryn feel humbled and privileged to be a part of Signs of Love, giving the deaf in Honduras language, healing, and purpose through Jesus Christ. They get to wrap their arms around someone who is hurting, cry with them, then pick them up and tell them they are God’s treasure. “There isn’t anything better we could be doing with our time.”
And the ministry is growing. Right now, Kathryn is training and preparing to take their ministry and launch a whole new branch of Signs of Love in Peru, where there currently are no deaf churches. Rachel Lewis, appointed by Missions Door in late September of 2016, hopes to join the team in Honduras this spring and will ultimately move to Peru with Kathryn to help launch the ministry.
Called by Name
When they welcome a new deaf person into Signs of Love, establishing identity is at the top of the list. Most deaf individuals they meet don’t even know their own name.
Their family will often refer to them as “the deaf one” or “the mute one” and sometimes even have to find their birth certificate to remember what their child’s or sibling’s name is. For a deaf person, learning they have a name unique to them and a very special identity in Christ is so powerful.
Serving with Signs of Love, Jessie and Kathryn spend their days teaching language to individuals who have lived without language even for basic needs, like hunger and thirst.
They PLANT and NURTURE truth in the lives of deaf people, AFFIRMING them that though the world has cast them aside, they are valued, loved and pursued by God!
They are EMPOWERING this oppressed group to rise up and lead others, forming and developing deaf churches in cities and rural villages of Honduras and training up deaf pastors and leaders.
The deaf are being CALLED BY NAME, finding refuge in loving community through Christ and becoming ambassadors for Christ as they sign the truth of the Gospel for the deaf of Honduras to hear.