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Open letter to Francis Chan and hearing able-bodied Christians

I am a Christian. I am deaf. I am hurt.

Francis Chan
Pastor and author Francis Chan delivers remarks as part of the Q Commons event, broadcast internationally on Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. |

Last week, you (CP) posted an article related to Francis Chan healing of a deaf boy and girl in rural Myanmar. It came across my Facebook. At first, I ignored it because frankly I got a bit tired of that kind of “spotlight” that deaf people usually get in the Christian community. We are always viewed as a target group for people to come and pray for healing for our deafness; it is hard to be seen as equals. Several more articles also circulated after yours so I decided I could not ignore it anymore. I wanted to find out what the hype was about. I opened up your article and read…

I was heartbroken.

“Francis Chan says he healed deaf boy and girl in Myanmar.” Oh how that is music to the ears of the Christian people who are not deaf. But, why would I be heartbroken? Don’t I think healing can happen? Yes. Of course. It is not the result, but the mindset behind the result. First thing that came to mind, “did you even ask the deaf children?” As a deaf person myself, I have been approached one too many times by people who can hear, wanting to pray over me for my ears to be healed. Actually, I have another part of my body that I really need prayers for instead, but they never asked me.

As a deaf person, I honestly never really liked being around hearing Christian people. Why? I am always seen as a “target” of a hopeful miracle. I grew up with Christian people telling me what Jesus could do for my ears based on the story in the Bible of Jesus healing a deaf man. Sadly, no Christian person has ever approached and ASKED me how they could pray for me. I think most, if not all, people who are not deaf, have forgotten one very important part about the story related with the deaf man in the Bible- Jesus ASKED and He did it in private.

I am frustrated.

The deaf children were not empowered to speak for themselves. Instead, they became an internet sensation and it is likely they did not know that. What many of us do not realize about deaf children in developing countries is that most of them are illiterate and suffer a great deal of language deprivation. With that being said, what is going to happen to them now since they have new identities as hearing individuals?

Don’t get me wrong. I believe Jesus is able. He is our healer. He restores us. It’s not about whether I think Jesus can do this or not. He is capable of doing anything. It is more about your perspective on us, deaf people. If you get to know us better, you will see that there are more options to show God’s kingdom and not limited to healings only. You see our deafness as the first sign of brokenness. We have stories, heartbreaks, and sorrows. We also have joys, triumphs, and successes. You would have never known any of this.

Why? You are clouded with a perspective that every deaf person you meet needs to
hear. You missed an opportunity. By not getting to know us, you are missing an
opportunity to have an authentic relationship with us. That was what Jesus was all
about. We are not your trophy of testimonies. We are not your plaque on your wall of
miracles. We are humans, like you.

See us. Ask us. Include us.

Renca Dunn is a Deaf woman who works as a Bible translator in American Sign Language located in Iowa. On her off time, she works with Deaf teenagers and travels around the world. Renca is an avid advocate for the Deaf and disabled community. 

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