I’m reading a biography about Helen Keller and her teacher Annie Sullivan. As you may have heard before, Annie taught Helen how to communicate using her hands and fingers to spell out words. But after Helen heard about a deaf-blind student in Norway who was learning to speak audibly, Helen was determined to speak this way as well.
How do you teach someone who is deaf how consonants, vowels, blends, and words are supposed to sound? Eventually, Helen could “listen” to someone speak by placing her middle finger on the speaker’s nose, her index finger on their lips, and her thumb on their throat.
To get to this point of “listening” Helen had to know how sounds and words were formed with the lips and tongue. Initially, Annie would place Helen’s fingertips on her lips as she made sounds, but that only works so far. One of Helen’s cousins wrote, “Many times it was necessary for Helen to put her sensitive fingers in Teacher’s [Annie’s] mouth, sometimes far down her throat, until Teacher would be nauseated, but nothing was too hard, so Helen was benefited.”
“Nothing was too hard.” Not even being gagged by an eager pupil! What amazing dedication!
So how far are you willing to go to help someone learn something valuable? Can you find a new way to say it? Are you willing to humble yourself to make yourself heard? Will you find a new way to communicate? A way that’s outside of your comfort zone? Can you communicate without even using words?
The Apostle Paul communicated the good news about Jesus this way: “I’ve become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life. I did all this because of the Message. I didn’t just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!” (1 Corinthians 9-:22-23, The Message)
How far are you willing to go to make sure someone hears the good news of Jesus from you?