Stories from the Mission Field

October 2020

When Signs Become Words

CAIS centre for deaf people in Ijuí/Brazil

Lucas (name changed) is an eight-year-old boy from the south of Brazil. What distinguishes him from other children is a special ability: he speaks a special language that only a few can: Libras. Libras is the sign language in Brazil with which Lucas expresses himself because he cannot hear. He can now talk to his mother because she too was allowed to learn this way of communication. A little miracle story that was written in the CAIS deaf center in Ijuí.

“My son learned to pray in Libras and then he started teaching prayers to his brothers and sisters in our family. At some point we went to church as a family.” Lucas’ mother tells us. She was baptised at the end of 2019. Afterwards she finally married her partner. It is obvious to see how Jesus changes the whole family. They have learned to communicate in a new way and started to talk to each other and to God – to pray. Let’s see how the story continues: “Lucas will become a missionary one day”, at least that’s what his family thinks.

For 16 years, the CAIS centre in Ijuí has been providing assistance to deaf children and young people and their families. About 10 million deaf people live in Brazil. That is almost 5 percent of the population. Most of them are very poor and never have the opportunity to learn how to communicate. CAIS wants to teach Libras to children from the age of 6 years on and thus show them from a very young age what the Bible says so that they can experience God’s love.

In the Sowing project, CAIS is currently offering a weekly meeting to ten hearing children. They all have in common that one of their siblings cannot hear. Now they are learning how to talk to their sister or brother in Libras. In addition, they regularly experience support for their own normal challenges: together they do their schoolwork and learn for work. Games and fun, fellowship and eating together are also part of the program.

In the help center for deaf children and young people, nine children from Ijuí and the surrounding area are currently being looked after in cooperation with the town. The children come to the center with one parent (usually the mother). After a joint breakfast they learn sign language from Paulo, the deaf teacher. There is also a lot of playing and doing handicrafts together. Biblical stories are regularly told in Libras, prayers are said, and the children and mothers hear, see and experience that Jesus loves them unconditionally. Of course, the families are also advised what kind of support is available and what help they are entitled to as a family.

The project is managed by Silvia da Costa. She hopes that the work can be expanded in the coming years and that people with other disabilities will also receive help. “For two years now we have been holding an annual meeting with the association for the blind in Ijuí. All participants got along very well and we would like to help blind children in the future,” Silvia says and asks for this request to be supported in prayer.

Finally, what Paul writes to the Romans 10: 14+15, fits really well for the work with deaf people:

“How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” (NIV)

In fact, the project has accepted this shipment: To carry the message to those who hear and express themselves through sign language.

According to a report by Silvia da Costa


We support the CAIS centre in Ijuí/Brazil this year within the medical work through the Thanksgiving Offering.