A carpenter who shows up for a job with an empty tool box isn’t going to accomplish much, is he? It doesn’t matter how much he loves his work or how much he cares about the people who have contracted his services – if all he has are his own two hands, he’ll never be able to drive a single nail or to cut a single piece of wood. It isn’t enough for him to know what needs to be done – he needs tools to accomplish his goals.
It’s the same with parents. There’s so much our children need to learn about life and love and the world around them! About values. About faith. About Jesus. Thankfully, most of us have tools to help us with that – everything from books and curriculum to classroom teachers and churches.
That is, unless your child is deaf. In that case, your toolbox basically empty! Obviously, public schools can’t help you foster Christian faith in your child. And churches that can reach out to deaf kids are extremely rare! Let’s face it – you’re basically on your own.
Well, that’s why Silent Blessings exists – to make tools specifically designed to help parents and churches introduce deaf kids to the person and the teachings of Jesus. Accessible tools that parents and Christian educators can use no matter what language systems or communications methods their kids rely on: American Sign Language, lip reading, cochlear implants, hearing aids, or printed words. Tools that work!
Let me share with you just a few of the many stories we’ve received recently from parents and teachers who have been using some of our tools to minister to their kids. And as you see the excitement and the gratitude in their words, know that generous gifts to this ministry have helped to make their joy possible!
“When we adopted our deaf son 2 years ago at age 12, we struggled to find good ASL resources to help teach him about the Lord. Dr. Wonder’s Workshop was a Godsend to our family. All my kids watch it every week and love it. We have now gotten through all the episodes online and would love to see more. Please be encouraged in the work that you are doing teaching the young about Jesus in their heart language. It has impacted our son so much and we are forever grateful.”
“We love Dr. Wonder’s Workshop because it provides a media platform that is completely accessible to my Deaf daughter. We haven’t been able to find another program like it where the entire episode is in ASL. It helps to give my child access to SOMETHING that is full of characters she can understand and relate to, who are smart, talented, and integral to the show. We are so thankful to the Dr. Wonder’s Workshop cast for their hard work to create a good, wholesome, spiritual series that is geared to children.”
“Love this program and there is nothing like it out there. It is teaching morals that kids today don’t have exposure to, language modeling by deaf adults for children and their parents and all while teaching God’s word. That is epic!”
“Being a teacher for Deaf and Hard of Hearing students in a mainstream school is one of the most resource- and support-lacking positions. In discovering Dr. Wonder’s Workshop, my students were able to access the purity of ASL while having auditory stimulation to their CIs (cochlear implants). The auditory input was a priority to parents and school administration. Yet these students needed to have access to the purity of the visual language offered only through ASL (American Sign Language). Now, I am a Christian so I fully enjoy, appreciate, and encourage Christian teaching; however, it’s not permitted in the public schools. I would always pre-watch the episodes and eliminate the portions that directly mention God and any reference to scripture. In elementary curriculum, much of the social studies / citizenship standards are moral-based. Thus, the themes of each program were directly connected to what was expected to be taught. We also would watch each episode 3 times in a row (over the span of 3 days). First two times with audio and captions, third time with only captions. Repetition was HIGHLY beneficial in my classroom and so much signed vocabulary was learned too! … I am now a middle school teacher and the teacher that had my students the year before also accessed Doctor Wonder’s Workshop in a very similar manner as myself. However, she received parental consent to watch the Christ-centered portions of the shows, too. We LOVED the programming for our students! Thanks for using your talents to Glorify the Lord! Thanks for all you do!”
These comments clearly show the impact the Dr. Wonder TV series is having on the lives of children and families around the world! It’s a powerful tool that can be used in a variety of ways to teach valuable life lessons and Christian faith to kids. Within the next few months a new set of 13 fresh programs in HD will be released to our broadcast partners. Then all 65 episodes of the series, along with other terrific Christian videos, games, Bible lessons for kids, and more will be incorporated into a new tool that will engage children, parents, and teachers in a fresh new way and open up new opportunities to impact their lives for the good!
Announcing the God Loves Deaf Kids Mobile App
Thanks to a very generous grant from an anonymous donor, we are now developing a new mobile app for Deaf kids called, appropriately, God Loves Deaf Kids. We’re still finalizing and experimenting with all the features of the app, but here’s what we can tell you so far:
- The app will provide streaming access to all completed episodes of Wonder’s Workshop. Kids can watch with English or Spanish captions or no captions at all.
- In addition to the full-length shows, kids will be able to select just their favorite song videos, their favorite Bible stories, or object lessons from the series.
- There will be a topical index where, with just one click, kids or parents can call up a playlist containing all the individual clips or story lines that relate to a particular theme, like “Trusting God” or “Doing Your Best.”
- There will be additional kid friendly videos in American Sign Language, too – all created by trusted partners like Deaf Missions or DOOR International.
- The app will have a Parents section that will include Frequently Asked Questions, lists of other helpful resources, and the ability to contact us directly to offer feedback, ask a question, or order resources through our online store directly from the app.
- . . a lot more things – all in a secure kid-safe and kid-friendly environment.
We’re really excited about this! Initial roll-out of the app should take place before Christmas with additional features being added over subsequent months. But even on day one the new God Loves Deaf Kids app will be a terrific new tool where Deaf kids, and their hearing friends and family, can explore hours and hours of Christian content created just for them!
The Dr. Wonder’s SignLab VBS
Vacation Bible school programs have been powerful tools churches have used for decades to reach out to children in their neighborhoods and introduce them to Jesus. Today the VBS is more popular than ever! But deaf kids rarely attend them. Why? Because the programs are designed for hearing children and the deaf kids just can’t quite understand what’s going on.
That’s sad because deaf kids want to learn! They see hearing kids having fun and doing cool stuff, and they feel left out. But in order to solve this problem a VBS curriculum would need to be reimagined and developed from the ground up so that all the instruction is presented in each child’s “thinking language.” For many deaf kids that’s American Sign Language. For hearing kids, probably spoken English. And for hard-of-hearing kids, or kids with cochlear implants, or kids who are learning English as a second language, live captions could be very helpful. But where in the world would a church find a curriculum like that?
Silent Blessings, that’s where!
Next fall we will release Dr. Wonder’s Sign Lab VBS. It will be the first nationally published Christian education curriculum designed specifically to minister to Deaf kids and their hearing friends and family members in the heart language of each child. We’ve been testing and refining this project for over 4 years and we’re convinced it is an extraordinary tool that will bring kids into an encounter with the love and grace of Jesus while providing a powerful cross-cultural and bi-lingual experience which can transform attitudes and bring people together in powerful ways!
For more than 22 years we’ve been faithful to God’s call to create the highest quality Christian ministry tools we possibly can for deaf kids and those who love them. But it’s been hard! There were no “road maps” to follow. We’ve had to invent, then refine, new procedures as we go. These are huge projects requiring literally thousands of hours of research, of writing and editing, of video and audio production.
In this process, each new tool must be tested in many different real world situations. If they don’t work as well as expected, we make modifications and test again. But, with a staff of only one full-time and four part-time workers it takes us years to complete a major project. If we had the funds to hire more professional staff we could bless far more deaf kids while they’re still open and eager to learn about Jesus!
We’re doing the best we can with the resources we have, and we’re going to keep on doing that! But, over the course of a year, just $10 more from a monthly giver can provide 2 hours of recording time for vocals on a new song. An additional $50 a month will provide closed captioning for two new episodes of Dr. Wonder. With $100 more per month, we can produce 3 new teacher training videos for the VBS.
Please, give prayerful consideration to this request, then give as God directs. If everyone will do that, we’ll have what we need – and so will each donor. That’s just the way God works. Your generous gift in the service of Christ may well be the one that helps open the heart of a special child to a life of grace and faith.
How great is that!?
God bless you, and Merry Christmas!
P.S. Don’t forget, your end-of-the-year gift is fully income tax deductible – so long as we receive it by December 31. Thanks again for your partnership and your love for deaf kids!