Log- from the Greek meaning word, reason, speech or thought. And evangelium meaning Gospel. Together, the closest I can come to a word descriptive of the Gospel narrative I see in language, specifically American Sign Language.
It is the way of things that hearing parents usually have hearing babies. Baby says “da-da” around a year old and picks up her parent’s pronunciation of sherbet. She works up to ordering on her own at a restaurant, and shows up to school ready to begin reading in the language she has heard since developing ears in the second trimester.
And sometimes Deaf parents have Deaf babies. They hold baby on their lap and sign I-LOVE-YOU close to baby’s eyes. They make signs on the baby and with the baby, they clap for baby as he hand-babbles, and as early as 6 months, baby starts producing signs--language--on his own. He learns how to read, watching his parents’ signs and facial expressions when they sign stories, and noting the rhythmic flow of their fingerspelling.
Both stories are a faint glimmer of the garden. Back in the beginning Adam and Eve shared the fullness of communication with God the Father, walking and talking in the garden. Unhindered by an agenda to please self, Adam and Eve could freely live out lives and words of praise to God, the Author of the universe. They had a shared language of God-glorying. Without shame, they could look into the eyes of God, and commune. Nothing interfered with their communication with Him. Until...
The heart is wayward and sin broke this seamless communication and evidences of this rupt in communication surfaces in political debates, elevating of one language over another, and every text conversation. And I see it in the knowledge hungry eyes of students at the school for the Deaf where I work.
Because it is also the way of things that 90% of Deaf children are born to hearing parents. Ninety percent. They do not share the same first language with their parents, but herein, in the midst of brokenness, the gospel enters in. Logevangelium.
You see, I am graced to see it everyday. I see it when a student doesn’t get it because she didn’t start learning language until 5th grade. See this separation? This rupt, the this-is-not-the-way-it-is-supposed-to-be-ness of her life. But my Jesus is good. He didn’t send Adam and Eve out of the garden without first giving them a promise. And as George Veditz, former President of the National Association of the Deaf, said about sign language [it is] “the noblest gift God has given to Deaf people.”
And I see this same student, starting to get it. I see her eyes like vacuums ready to pull in every sign. I see her smiling and starting conversations. Restoration. I see her signing and telling me about horses, her new nephew, and the coldness of science camp up north. This logevangelium, evidenced in the way God has so intricately programmed the brain to process that language that it channels patterns into meaning whether the language is spoken or visual. So the student who missed out for so long can start to connect with the world around her.
I can’t not talk about Mark 7 and the dignity with which Jesus treated the Deaf man, pulling him aside, communicating to him with gesture and healing him, but not by just telling him to speak, but by uttering “ephphatha” meaning be open. I can’t not talk about my students carefully positioning their laptops and rearranging the hangings on the classroom walls to clear the background so they can film themselves signing an ASL story, artists at work. Or their thoughtful eye squints when we enter into a space of imagination as we try to think of ASL mnemonic devices to help remember new vocabulary words.
Logevangelium. They have a language with which to connect to the world; a picture of THE Evangelium, Jesus Christ who incarnated Himself to be our way of connection to the world of our Father’s Kingdom.
And often the log comes from the families that learn to sign. The ones who hold voice-off family dinners. The ones who dedicate 4 hours of their Sunday going to church--the morning to their home church and afternoon to Deaf church because they believe in the importance of their Deaf daughter learning about our great God in her own language, ASL. The ones who gather in the living room, pulling in folding chairs as needed for uncles and cousins, to learn to communicate with the Deaf nephew who recently lost a mom, but gained a home with them.
May I be a champion of it, dear Lord, all the days of my life. Because You are.
Marleah loves hiking, writing, chocolate, language and masking tape. She is in her third year teaching and learning at a school for the Deaf.