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In a message dated 9/18/2006 2:12:40 P.M. Pacific Daylight Time, aneking@ writes:
I am in complete agreement with you on all of your points.
There is no easy answer or solution to cross cultural differences and paternalistic, patronizing attitudes.
Sometimes we simply have to say, "Thank you for the invitation, but after careful consideration I will have to decline."
We can then add, "If you'd like to know my reasons, I'd be happy to share them with you."
If the other person does ask your reasons, you can then approach the discussion by clarifying the purposes of the proposed endeavor. In establishing a Deaf Ministry, what are the goals and desired outcomes? Some possibilities include:
1. Provide opportunities for church members to serve and develop their talents and abilities.
2. Provide opportunities for church members to have joy in that service.
3. Do no harm.
4. Provide opportunities for Deaf community members to come unto Christ.
5. Provide opportunities for Deaf community members to serve and develop their talents and abilities.
6. Build up good public relations with the general community.
7. Build up long-term good public relations with the Deaf community.
And so forth.
You can develop these desired outcomes into a "mission statement."
Once you have clarified the goals and reasons for setting up such a ministry you have the "WHAT and the WHY."
The "HOW" becomes easier because you can refer back to your mission statement.
If one of your goals is to have good public relations with the Deaf Community, that influences your decision regarding what type of sign language instruction to provide. Since ASL is valued in the Deaf Community and Signed English is merely tolerated it then makes sense to decide to teach ASL rather than Signed English.
If the pastor and other interested people disagree with this idea and instead claim that Deaf people really prefer Signed English then you simply refer back to your earlier assertion that "Yes, that is why I am not going to be involved--because we have a difference of opinion and I would prefer not to get involved with something that is being done in a way that is contrary to how my heart and my experience tell me it should be done. Now, would you like to hear more of my reasons and thoughts or should I simply wish you well and let you get on with doing it your way?"
-- Brother Bill