Nagela is a middle-aged man living in Kewa village who has been a friend of ours for years. Until recently, though, he had never attended our church. But he usually joined us when we held Adventist Youth programs in the village on Sabbath afternoons.
Nagela is friendly and always gives me a hearty handshake and a thumbs-up when I see him. He is deaf and mute and has never spoken an intelligible word in his life. However, he is good at signing, and that is how we communicate.
A pastor furthering his studies at Pacific Adventist University came to our village recently with three other theology students to do some practical training. We planned for him to conduct a baptism on his last Sabbath here. On Friday night he preached a soul-stirring message about Bible prophecy and Jesus’ coming.
All week long, Nagela attended our evening services in the village. But during the Friday-evening meeting he made a decision. One of our recently baptized young men, who has been a positive influence to the other young men, brought Nagela to Laurie and told her he wanted to be baptized. How much of the sermon he understood, I can’t say. But Nagela clearly signed to him, “I’ve never heard preaching like this before!”
Laurie paused, confused. “But he is deaf, right?” she asked.
“Yes,” the young man replied.
“So it must have been the pictures that spoke to him.”
“No,” our young church member said, “the Holy Spirit spoke to him.”
I believe Nagela is sincere in his desire to follow Jesus. We did not deny him his baptism. The next day he went into the watery grave and came up a new man.
When Jesus returns, Nagela will receive new ears that hear and a tongue that will sing praises to God. But even now, I believe that, at special times, God “makes both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak” (Mark 7:37) so that His gospel might be understood.