The Pastors’ School led by Bishop John Schol and his team from Greater New Jersey brought a wonderful opportunity to share the big vision of Deaf Ministry for the Tanzania Conference. I was blessed to be the interpreter for the school and four members of our Deaf Ministry team also attended.
The training was awesome, and we are already implementing some of the ideas we learned about church protocol, evangelism and church growth. I also accompanied the GNJ team on some fun adventures. I shared with them our vision for the Deaf in Tanzania.
Yatosha is the name of the Deaf Ministry project which was started in 2020. The name Yatosha means “Enough.” The name was chosen because we realized the Deaf are experiencing a lot of challenges and problems in their daily lives, and especially in our system of education. We as Yatosha decided to stand with Deaf people and say with one voice “No more rejection. No more trouble. No more isolation.” We bring hope to their lives.
The Yatosha Team consists of two district superintendents, eight lay people and a Deaf pastor working in three locations across Tanzania: Mwanza and Sengerema, near Lake Victoria, and Dar es Salaam (the capital city). Each team member has certain tasks, such as animal husbandry, farming, gospel preaching, visitation to families with Deaf members and to a Deaf secondary school, health education for women and girls, and sign language classes.
There is a Deaf Club for community development. There are plans to offer training and certification in welding and safety, as well as a sewing center for Deaf women to start micro-businesses and be empowered.
Seeing Deaf people in worship is ‘like seeing the hand of God’
In April 2022, the First United Methodist Church of Dar Es Salaam, began Deaf worship, and the presence of Deaf people has added joy and new ways of doing worship. The Rev. Isaka Ibrahim, the pastor and District Superintendent, says that seeing Deaf people in worship is “like seeing the hand of God.”
Most importantly, there is now a weekly Deaf people’s worship service with a Deaf ministry leader, Pastor Isaya, at First UMC in Dar es Salaam. The first class of five Deaf people recently were baptized and made their profession of faith. Yatosha is building trust in the Deaf community, as Deaf individuals begin to feel more like a human beings and children of God.
But the big vision is this: a Deaf primary school for 300 Deaf children and a training center. Our children have no opportunity for language learning and education. That is the long-range strategic plan to improve the lives of Deaf people in Tanzania.
Yatosha has developed plans and secured land nearby Lake Victoria. We are eagerly praying and searching for friends among churches, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and United Methodist annual conferences.
Yatosha continues to proclaim a God whose abundance is enough. So, Yatosha is also learning to say “Enough!” to audist** attitudes against Deaf people’s abilities and contributions to God’s blessings of work, worship, education and community.
P. O Box 72521, Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, East Africa
*Nyasinde Pablo, a Mechanical Design Engineer, is Director of Yatosha Deaf Ministry and Youth and Young Adult Education, and a coordinator of the Tanzania Conference of The United Methodist Church. Visit his very active Facebook page to see photos of the design for the Deaf primary school and training center, and photos of United Methodist members, leaders, classes and youth. Also, scroll far down on the page to enjoy photos of GNJ visitors there for the Tanzania Annual Conference and the Pastors School (late May and early June photos).
** Audism as described by Deaf activists as a form of discrimination directed against Deaf people, which may include those diagnosed as Deaf from birth or otherwise. Wikipedia