~An Aroma to God~
The 25 children smiled with glee as they sat in a circle and learned for the first time their very own "sign" name. It was the first day of the week-long King's Kids programme, and it was combined deaf and hearing children. The facilitators included sign language in every activity.
Some hearing children who had never even known a deaf child were now interacting and smiling with them. It seemed that each hearing child was on the edge of his/her chair readily trying to grasp this new language. During the worship times, the children were trying so hard to do the signs that some of them even forgot to sing. The mixture of deaf and hearing children brought some new dynamics in the King's Kids programme and challenged them all to learn to work together.
One of the leaders, Netty, was very impacted by this and said, “I have a disability myself, so it really encouraged me to see deaf children working with normal (hearing) children. I think it's a new thing in Africa and so you want it to change them. You want their perspectives to change; you want every one to feel valued and important like God sees them...”
On a typical day during the King's Kids programme, the children divided into groups and put together a daily verse from the Bible. Next they spent time in worship and then did a craft. After the craft, someone shared a short devotional from the Bible.
Finally there were “parachute games” with a very large and colorful parachute that illicited many squeals of laughter.
“Taste and see that the LORD is good” was the theme for the King's Kids. On the second day there was a craft to make a mask, which represented our need to repent before God.
After the craft was finished the children then somberly stepped outside and had a quiet time with God. Some of the children went under trees, others sat on the log bridge, but all were very quiet and fully focused on God. Netty commented on this day by saying, it “was good... It challenged me, and some of the things the children said about how it helped them... it encouraged me. Adults have issues and have to deal with them daily...so do children. I think it's acknowledging your weaknesses and dealing with them, so God can deal with you further... it makes you a better person.” At the end of this day they took off their masks before God as if saying, “We are ready to repent to you God.”
The life of one of the deaf leaders in the King's Kids programme really touched the heart of Netty. “Wilfred," Netty said, "encouraged me so much. He comes from a good home. He's a Christian, and his brother looks after him because his Father died. Beautifully enough, he has that passion to want to learn and want to do better, and help others who are deaf to do the same. He's trying to learn to lip read and he's just lovely. He's full of integrity and wants to do things for others.”
On one of the days the kids and leaders walked for an hour and a half to a swimming pool, stopping along the way to see different aspects of God's creation. Then they swam and had a picnic before making the return journey.
At the end of the week we had seen growth in the children's lives and even their signing had improved. They tried hard to communicate with the deaf and were proud of what they had learned. The parents were so appreciative and excited to see what this programme had done for their children. It was the deaf and the hearing working together to taste and see that the LORD is good.