Signing God's Love
There are over 100 million deaf people around the world; 98% of them do not know Jesus. It’s a startling statistic. One of the hardest parts about deaf ministry is overcoming the communication gap. It’s different than having a language barrier, because it’s one way. Deaf people can’t learn how to hear, and most hearing people don’t know how to sign. But that’s something that Rev. Dr. John Reinke is working hard to change.
Pastor Reinke first started in deaf ministry while he was attending seminary, and for the last thirty-plus years he has been helping serve wherever God leads. Which, today includes sharing and signing the Gospel on a local and international level.
Pastor Reinke serves as a “missionary in residence” at Immanuel, St. Charles. This position allows him to partner with deaf outreach to the St. Louis area. Locally, he hosts a variety of training ministry opportunities including Deaf Family Grow on Mondays nights at Immanuel with fellowship, sign language practice, learning, and worship. He also serves as a vacancy pastor for Holy Cross Lutheran Church for the Deaf which currently worships at Concordia in Kirkwood.
In recent years, Pastor Reinke has been approached by Lutheran schools to help teach American Sign Language. He realized, though, that standard ASL classes are missing a very important component–religious vocabulary. So he wrote and developed a signing curriculum where students learn ASL with “Jesus Signs”, where religious words are also taught. This is now a digital course that anyone can take.
Another important aspect of deaf ministry is training up the next generation of signing ministry leaders. There are very few Christian ministry leaders who sign, and even fewer Lutheran ones. Pastor Reinke is working with Concordia Seminary through their EIIT program to educate new pastors and deaconesses. There are now seven students across the United States that are in training with Pastor Reinke serving as a mentor. What a blessing!
The need for prayers and helpers in deaf ministry is strong. Pastor Reinke has requests for materials and training across many congregations and even internationally. If you are interested in learning more about Deaf Ministry, or to partake in digital courses or the Jesus Signs Immersion conference this summer, visit deafoutreach.org.