Greetings in the name of our Lord!
I thought you might be interested in reading the amazing story below, of how this Deaf missionary, Dr. Andrew J. Foster changed/impacted my life and my ministry FOREVER.
Before you read his story, I’d like to share a bit about how our two lives intersected:
1. I grew up in a Muslim family in Nigeria, Africa. My siblings all went to school, but I was not able to go because I was Deaf.
2. Then, when I was 10 years old, my parents found out that someone had started a school for Deaf children.
3. It was started by a missionary, and because of his calling and vision, I was able to get a good education, I found Jesus and accepted Him as my personal Savior, and I was baptized by this extraordinary man.
4. I would never have met my wife if the Deaf school was not established by this missionary. We have 3 grown sons and 5 grandchildren. PTL!
5. When he died in a plane crash in 1987, I was heartbroken. For the next several years, the Lord spoke my heart about continuing his vision.
6. In 2001, the Lord opened the ministry under “Deaf Christian Evangelistic Association, International”, where I currently minster to Deaf adults and youth in Nigeria and Puerto Rico. PTL!
I hope this story will inspire you to see how the Lord brought this missionary to Africa and many Deaf people were saved, including my wife and me. To God be the glory!
Here is the story written by Andrew Foster’s daughter…
“There’s a mission for orphans, a mission for the blind; why not a mission for the deaf?” someone said to my father, Andrew Foster, during a period of personal discouragement and frustration. This suggestion was the encouragement my father needed.
Andrew Foster, who became deaf at age 11, came to realize in his late teens, that God had a purpose for him in losing his hearing. He chatted with a Jamaican missionary visiting his church in Detroit and wanted to know what was being done for the deaf there. The missionary perceived – rightly – that perhaps God was using my father’s interest to guide him in helping those less fortunate. The missionary told him that Jamaica had a school and churches for the deaf but encouraged him to consider the continent of Africa – so vastly bigger than the United States – which had hardly any schools or churches for the deaf in the entire continent.
So starting from the age of 19, Andrew Foster researched and planned what he needed to do to prepare for what would become pioneer work among the deaf in Africa. It would be another 13 years before he actually stepped foot in West Africa. If a hearing person is illiterate, he or she can still hear the Gospel. But for a deaf person to be illiterate meant that person had a “double handicap,” in my father’s words. The illiterate deaf needed to be given a language, before the Gospel could be communicated. So he got a couple of degrees in education and a third degree in missions – all within a five year periods. Then he applied at various mission boards to serve the deaf in Africa.
Mission board after mission board declined Andrew Foster’s application. Many did not see the need for serving the deaf. One veteran missionary even told my father that in his 25 years in Africa, he had never seen a deaf person. “That’s the problem,” my father told him. “Deafness is an invisible handicap. You cannot know if someone is deaf just by looking at him.” It was very discouraging, until one day, someone suggested to Andrew Foster, “There’s a mission for orphans, a mission for the blind; why not a mission for the deaf.” Inspired, my father, pursued founding a mission for the deaf. On the 24th of February 1956, Christian Mission for Deaf Africans was founded, 65 years ago today. A year later, Andrew Foster stepped foot in West Africa for the first time – first in Liberia, then moved to Ghana shortly thereafter, to open the first school for the deaf.
By the grace of God, over the next 30 years, Andrew Foster pioneered education and Gospel work among the deaf in several African countries. He felt like it was only a “drop in the bucket,” for the needs were so great. The mission eventually revised its name to Christian Mission for the Deaf, out of a desire to reach the deaf across the world. Though both my parents are now with the Lord, the mission still continues after many decades.
In addition, a must-see video about this missionary, please watch YouTube “Seed of Hope by Andrew J. Foster” made by Gallaudet University.
What do you think? If you would like to support our ministry, please go to www.ceaforchrist.org for details.
Thanks, and God bless,
Job & Bukola Ayantola, Deaf Missionaries/Evangelists