One of the strange things that happened as we started our church and I thought through first of all what a Biblical church was, and what I'd like to see happen in Iceland was this urge to reach people groups in Iceland that I felt didn't have a lot of people praying for them, teaching them or trying to reach them.
Most people think of people groups in terms of ethnicity or culture, and I did think of some of those groups, including the increasing Polish population here in Iceland, but another people group that may not have the same ethnicity or culture was the deaf population, to the best of my knowledge I knew of no church that offered sermons in Icelandic sign language, and I had never heard of anyone trying to change that, or praying for that people group.
Well, 8 years into our church plant we run into Tatiana and her son Erlingur, who had come to faith through hearing her husband and his dad talk about the faith, and now they were attending our services and wanted to get baptised. Erlingur is not deaf but knows sign language, and he did his best to translate during services, baptism class was tricky to make sure we were all on the same page as to what baptism was, and to make sure that they knew what this step meant, and yet we made it through and in late December we got to baptise them and celebrate the grace of God being poured over them!
Since then Tatiana has been trying to explore her connections with different translators in the country and trying to figure out how she can have a professional sign language translator to translate our sermons for her, which, by the grace of God would open up the opportunity for more deaf people to come and gather and worship.
As we hear of stories of people coming to faith in Iceland, most of them do not entail responding to an alter call, but a lot of people having conversations with other people in their daily lives, Tatiana and Erlingur are another one of those stories, and I am reminded yet again of Ephesians 4:
Ephesians 4:11-12 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,
My job as a pastor and teacher may not be to teach everyone, to evangelise everyone, to do all the ministry or to reach everybody... My job is to remind our people that no one can reach everybody, but anybody can be used by God to reach somebody, and that is a part of their ministry.
We the church must remember and shift our thinking about what a missionary is and does, to remind ourselves that we are God's missionaries in our daily lives, most people will not take the words of a preacher seriously, but they may listen to a loving and caring friend, family member or a co-worker.
What a joy to be a part of their baptism, and what a beautiful reminder for us all, that we have been buried with Christ, and raised to newness of life! We are the beggars who have stumbled into a feast, and here we are, simple beggars, pointing other beggars to where bread can be found.