The Deaf Malagasy of Madagascar and Warren Baptist Church in Georgia
It sounds like a fool’s errand: send a hearing church with zero experience with the Deaf to share Jesus with a Deaf unengaged, unreached people group. But that’s what happened when Warren Baptist Church in Augusta, Georgia, chose to embrace the Deaf Malagasy of Madagascar.
Located off Africa’s east coast, the island nation is home to 110,000 Deaf, less than 1 percent Christian. Most follow a centuries-old tradition of ancestor worship.
There may be a “veneer of Christianity,” says Matt Spann, who leads IMB’s Madagascar team, “but, in fact, they fear their ancestors more than they fear God.”
That’s what Warren hopes to change. But Roger Henderson, the church’s missions pastor, knows it won’t be quick, easy or cheap. There’s a steep learning curve to mastering Malagasy sign. Roger anticipates sending multiple teams to Madagascar every year. That’s a huge financial commitment, one that Warren has pledged won’t cut into its giving to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering, which supports workers like Matt.
Intimate with Malagasy society and language, Matt is helping Warren navigate cultural nuances and church-planting pitfalls, plus providing logistical support for incoming teams.
“There was no doubt that this is where God was leading us,” Roger says. “This is a testimony that God can use anybody when you are willing to follow His leading.”