For the deaf in Jamaica, especially children, the community is isolated, where long-held beliefs about the hearing-impaired relegate them to second-class citizenship, or worse, Sanders said.
"When I go to Jamaica, I always get this sense of going back in to time," he said. "Their culture hasn't caught up yet."
Rewarding to members as well
Church member Gary Lane of Peoria, who has made the trip for the past two years, along with Edwards, got as much out of the trip as he gave.
"I feel awful that they're so backward, there's such a disparity," Lane said. "One time I met a girl, she was 12 years old and in third grade. I felt so sad."
Bringing deaf people to the school and showing what they can do is the best motivator for the children, Sanders said.
"It's amazing to see. We bring deaf people to model it, we bring them as a finished product. The idea is simple: 'He can do it, I can do it.' When (Gary and Jerry) stand up there, it's just like a tractor beam, the kids just hone in on it," Sanders said. "It's life-changing."
A message of hope
That message of hope is more important to Sanders, Lane, Edwards and Bishop than expanding their ministry. Through the message of the gospel, comes hope, and from hope comes change, according to Sanders.
"Wherever religion has gone, whether it's religious or secular like Communism it enslaves people. Religion can dilute the message," he said. "But wherever the gospel goes, it frees people."
Sanders will return in July to help Jamaican deaf minister Damian Campbell train other deaf ministers.
"The children have this understanding," Bishop said, "it's 'you are the same as me.' The more people that know the language, the more people you have to communicate with."
The church members already are planning their next trip.
"Here, I just got a text from Jerry," Sanders said Thursday inside the ministry's small headquarters in Central Peoria. "'I was just wondering . . . October and November, we'll go to Jamaica again?'
Information from: Journal Star, http://pjstar.com
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