- There is a very special church very active since 1997 in Tanzania
- Immanuel church is designed especially for deaf people
- They have several sites all around the country
There is a very special church in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which dedicates itself to the spiritual needs of deaf people. Their Sunday sermons are given out in sign language.
Congregants at the Immanuel Church for the Deaf have learned to communicate, and get to know the Lord’s teachings, through the special language developed for them, although they also host some who are able to hear. They assistants to the sermons even "sing" in sign language.
The congregation in Dar es Salaam is quite large, with normally over 100 believers getting together for sermons every Sunday. The pastor gives his sermon, and an interpreter translates it into sign language.
Immanuel church was founded twenty years ago, especially for hearing impaired people, and has more than 700 congregants throughout Tanzania. Its headquarters are located in Buguruni Malapa.
Immanuel stands for the phrase “God is with us” in Hebrew. The name was chosen on puropose, in order to outreach to those who felt marginalized from mainstream churches. Joseph Hiza, the church’s General Secretary, tells members “God has not abandoned them.”
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Church members have declared they are very happy with Immanuel church, because the feel isolated at other ones, where there are no language interpreters. 37-year old Sensor Joseph used worship at Lutheran and Anglican churches, but always ended up frustrated. He recalls he "was not happy there. I realized I was wasting my time.” Some friends recommended Immanuel church, and has never changed congregations since.
There are also believers from other churches, like Catholics and other Christians.
This church’s lead pastor is Rev Njihia, who has also headed other deaf congregations in other parts of Africa. He has learnt at least for types of sign languages.
He says that “sign language has helped many hearing impaired people to become better persons… I have wedded a good number of them here too.”
The idea of a church for the deaf came originally from Kenya and Uganda. Some of its members realized Tanzania’s dire need, and decided to help a group of pastors to set up a local Immanuel church. “We work in cooperation with Deaf Ministries International,” Hiza commented.
Here is another case of a church for the deaf in Uganda: