May 17, 2024

Your Generosity in Action: Empowering a Hidden Community

An international worker seeks hope and opportunities for the Deaf community

by an Alliance worker serving in central Asia

On a warm spring day, a Deaf little boy and his teacher were learning the words in sign language for professions and jobs. Teacher. Farmer. Carpenter. Doctor. Nurse. Lawyer.

Moses*, the male tutor, Deaf himself and in his fifties, gently encouraged the five-year-old boy as he looked at the pictures of the doctor and nurse, patiently showing him the signs. Not able to sign myself, with out project manager interpreting, I asked Moses to ask the boy what he wanted to be when he grew up—a normal question in my American brain. Most Western children would say something like cowboy or princess. But unintentionally, I had hit a big cultural wall that day. Moses did not want to ask my question.

Stunned, I laughed and said, “It’s a simple question. Just ask him.” After some debate, Moses reluctantly asked the boy what he wanted to be when he grew up. His answer in sign language was a farmer, like his dad. A simple and sweet interaction. “Well done!” we all gushed.

Waking Up to the Problem

Driving home that day, I asked Moses why he didn’t want to ask that simple question. “I didn’t want to encourage him to dream too big,” he said. “He can’t ever be a doctor or a lawyer. He’s Deaf. He’ll never have those opportunities.”

His sense of hopelessness was disorienting for me. In my Western mindset, anyone can be anything they want, despite disabilities. Deafness shouldn’t stop someone from pursuing their dreams, I thought. But that day I has unintentionally stumbled upon a big area of pain for Moses and many Deaf people in this country. Unfortunately, this type of hopelessness is widespread here. Historically, this region—culturally isolated due to its natural remoteness—has been conquered and ruled by outside forces. Add to that a condition that it seen as shameful here, and you have a recipe for hopelessness. With a lack of educational and career opportunities, Deaf people in this society end up feeling forgotten, overlooked, hopeless, and dependent on others for basic provision.

That day in the car, I asked Moses what he thought was the biggest need for the Deaf community in this country. Without hesitation, he said, Work!” In this place, the poorest of the former Soviet republics of central Asia, job opportunities are limited for everyone. If one has a condition like deafness, there are nearly zero opportunities.

Early Success and Next Steps

That day was in 2019. Because of the generosity of Alliance donors throughout the world, our small team of international workers had launched a sign language education project at the beginning of the year. Our main goal was to teach sign language to Deaf children who are born into hearing families so that they can form closer relationships with their family members before going off to a Deaf school in our region. Over the last five years, your prayers and support have sustained our work through so many walls and obstacles, from resistant and fearful families to the prevailing misconception that sign language is not a “real” language. Through everything, Moses and our other Deaf tutors have persevered and had many successes along the way.

Meanwhile, my conversation with Moses about jobs and the greatest need for the Deaf community has played in my head over and over. Many Deaf people here feel forgotten and hopeless. Many have no dignified way of providing for their families. They are isolated by a language barrier and prejudice. We have found that they often actually prefer the isolation, which insulates them from possible hurt, ridicule, and shame. In many ways, they are content to remain in their own subculture, where they find security and acceptance.

However, our God has not forgotten them of left them in their hopelessness. He wants to redeem their pain. He wants to provide them with dignity.

In January 2023, we launched the Deaf Community Empowerment Project to equip the Deaf people in our community with job skills that make them more marketable and competitive for a wide range of vocations. For the Deaf community in this country, there is still not a legitimate pathway to higher education. However, we can try to bridge the gap by building a community of young adults who eventually could be trained as electricians, plumbers, teachers, skilled workers, seamstresses, hairdressers, and cooks. With the continued engagement of our worldwide Alliance family, we can build a bridge into the Deaf community that will show them that we see they are worthy of hope and dignity. We can show them they are not forgotten.

The Ultimate Goal

Last December, we hosted our first gathering of Deaf young adults. More than 25 attended. It’s been a slow start, but around every corner, our efforts have been met with overwhelming enthusiasm from the faith-filled and generous people who make our work possible. Sustained by your prayers and support, we’ll keep seeking out the lost in this hidden community in central Asia. As 2024 begins, we are encountering fresh enthusiasm for gathering, starting a culinary and hairdressing course for young women, and engaging with young men through sports and job skills training.

Maybe that little boy will one day be a farmer like his dad. And maybe he will have other options. Maybe someday all the vocations from that vocabulary lesson—teacher, carpenter, doctor, nurse, and lawyer—will be open to him.

Ultimately though, our God wants much more than vocational freedom for that little boy and other member of the Deaf community in central Asia. He wants them to know they are seen, known, and deeply loved. He wants them to know they are not forgotten. They are not forsaken. He wants them to find their sense of belonging in His eternal Kingdom.

Create Apprenticeships for the Deaf Community in Central Asia

Deaf people in this central Asian country often find themselves on the margins of society. By giving to this project, you will enable Deaf students to enroll in apprenticeships that show them and their families that God cares for them and provides for their every need. To make a gospel impact in central Asia by creating apprenticeships for Deaf people, visit; select “a project you love/Find a project”; and type in “Central Asian Deaf Comm Empowerment.”

Learn more about Alliance strategic projects throughout the world in need of your prayers and financial support by by accessing the 2023-24 Strategic Giving Opportunities Gift Catalog at or by calling toll free (866) 443-8262. 

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