He that hath an ear, let him hear.” These words were spoken by Yeshua three times in the Gospel of Matthew and seven times in the book of Revelation. In Matthew 13:11-17 Jesus explained to his disciples that he taught in parables so that those with open hearts directed toward God would find truth and salvation in his words. However, those whose hearts were hardened would hear, but neither understand nor accept his words of life. Jesus was not speaking of literal hearing but of spiritual awareness—the understanding of a heart calling out to its Creator, longing for reunion with its Maker.
In the course of my San Francisco ministry, I recently met a Jewish woman named Paula who would soon receive her Messiah. Like so many of my people, her spiritual ears were somewhat clogged with the noise of the world and concerns for her family’s reaction to her faith in Jesus.
Unlike most of the Jewish people I encounter, however, Paula was physically deaf. She came to our Friday night messianic service. A Gentile friend, who was also deaf and a believer in Jesus, had brought her, along with two other deaf Christian friends. Combining the small amount of sign language I know with Paula’s lipreading and limited but impressive speaking skills, I was able to have a conversation with her. She said that she would like to meet with me some time to find out why I believed in Jesus, and she gave me her phone number. She also gave me the number of the California Deaf Relay System. I wasn’t sure what that was, but I promised to call Paula soon.
A week later I dialed the Deaf Relay number and an operator explained how it worked. I would speak and she would type my conversation into a machine. It would be printed out on a similar machine in Paula’s house. Then Paula would type in her response and the operator would read it back to me. I found Paula at home, and though it seemed a bit awkward at first, we were able to communicate! I set up a time during the week to meet with her and another woman, Laura, who was a new Jewish believer with a hearing impairment. A phone conversation that ordinarily would have taken five minutes took about 25, but I was encouraged not only because Paula was looking forward to meeting me, but because I also had an opportunity to share my faith with the operator in-between messages. She had not seemed particularly interested, but I was grateful to have had the opportunity to speak with two unbelievers at once.
The next week Laura, Paula and I sat at a table and discussed Paula’s fears about making a commitment to Yeshua. Paula felt that Jesus probably was the Messiah, but she was afraid to receive him personally. One reason was that she feared her parents’ and her son’s reactions. While I continued to talk to Paula in an attempt to ease her fears, Laura went and spoke with her son and discovered that he was not as closed to Yeshua as Paula had feared. Three times I asked Paula if she would like to pray with us to receive the Lord right then, and three times she expressed an interest combined with fear. I gave Paula one of our Questions and Answers booklets that has a prayer of commitment in the back. I explained that she could pray that prayer when she was ready and she, too, would know God’s peace as Laura and I did. Then I prayed with her that God would show her the truth about Jesus and give her the courage to follow through with what he showed her. Paula thanked us both for coming and we left.
I was frustrated because I felt that Paula should have made a commitment right there, but once again, God’s timing was just right. When I called Paula the next week to see how she was doing, this was our conversation:
“I was just thinking about you. How are you?” she typed.
“Fine, how are you?” I responded.
“I have something to tell you. I accepted Jesus.”
“What do you mean? What happened?”
“I thought you knew what that meant. I opened my heart to Jesus. Now I have that peace, more than before. Please tell Laura.”
“Wait—how did it happen?”
“I was reading the Christ in the Passover book, and I just knew that it was true.”
“Did you pray the prayer in the back of that book I gave you?”
“No, but I prayed my own words of acceptance. I am so happy now.”
“I am happy for you! If I were there I would give you a big hug!”
“I want to hug everybody! I will be at your Friday night service again in two weeks.”
“Great! I’ll get an interpreter. You’ll be in my prayers. Goodbye.”
I was so excited. Paula was now a believer! God had used her Christian friends to show her the reality of the gospel, but he had also used me, with my limited communication skills, to convey a truth greater than my own limitations and the limitations of Paula’s physical body. He had truly spoken to her heart and given her “ears to hear.” Please pray for Paula that she will grow in her new faith and be able to share it with her hearing parents who also need to hear the good news of Messiah.