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They were people who lived in a world of silence, people
who had never heard...
the sweet tones of love expressed in
audible words, the soothing melody of beautiful music,
the sounds of a babbling brook, the cooing or crying of a
baby, or the song of a bird.
The Millers began their work in the town of Chosica and
offered lessons in sign language. The Latin American
Catholics believed that it was shameful to be deaf because
they thought that it was a punishment from God. Miller
found that because of this unjust disgrace, many of the
children had never been out of their homes.
Perhaps the most profound absence of all was the word Vernon’s heart was stirred to do something about
of a witness telling them of God's redeeming love and their plight. In the town of Chosica where Vernon
began his ministry, he taught sign language to the deaf
children. He also trained numerous deaf children to do
he deaf in Peru languished in their QUIET world. woodworking and other trades.
Their whole existence was spent
With a grant from a Dutch mission
in a vacuum of silence. Days and hours
agency, Miller organized the Efata
passed quietly as they, like INVISIBLE
School for the Deaf. Buildings were
people, made their journey through
built that accommodated the needs
the world of the hearing who looked
of the more than 100 students who
upon them as if they did not exist.
attended the school. In 1994, there
They would go home at night to
were seven churches that had been
abodes of lonely isolation and most of
of the ministry of Vernon Miller.
them would die without ever hearing a single word of
redemption or a syllable of hope. Vernon Miller and his Through their many years of ministry in Peru, other
young wife were determined to change their world and BIMI missionaries helped the Millers in the Deaf work.
their eternity. They would bridge the darkness of silent Some of those missionaries were Nancy Burns, who
for 20 years, Mary Shepherd,
desolation with the glorious light of the Gospel of Jesus. served with the Millers
and Lee Johnson. 1
T 1. Roy Ackerle, “Spanish Speaking South America,”
BIMI WORLD, vol. 1, 1992.
Like a shining light
in the darkness,
Vernon Miller had
penetrated the silence.
There was also a Bible school started for the deaf, and
graduates of the school pastored churches for the deaf
throughout Peru. In 1994, there were numbers of
churches that had been established.
Like a shining light in the darkness, Vernon Miller had
penetrated the silence and had changed their world
FOREVER. Multitudes would never be the same again.
Isaiah described it all when he penned: “The Spirit of the
Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed
me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent
me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to
the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that
are bound...to comfort all that mourn...to give unto them
beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment
of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Isaiah 61:1–3).
WHAT A LESSON FOR EACH OF US! More than 50
years ago Vernon Miller’s pastor preached a message
on missions... NEXT MORNING—suitcase in hand—
”WHAT DO I DO NEXT?”
Robert Frost had it right!
Two roads diverged
in a yellow wood…
And I—I took the one
less traveled by,
and that has made all the
difference. Some time ago, Vernon Miller closed his eyes in a nursing
home in Florida and opened them in Heaven. He heard
our Lord say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”…
words we all hope to hear. But when we do, those words
will not mean to us what they meant to Vernon Miller
because they were the first words he ever heard
...for Vernon Miller
From the first missionary to the deaf in 1965, there have
been scores of others who like Vernon and Velma would
was himself deaf! 2
bridge the darkness of silent desolation with the glorious
And in that day shall the deaf hear the words of the book
light of the Gospel of Jesus. These included Ron and Sue
Henson, Clifford and Helen Smith, Jim and Joyce Sloan,
Bobby and Lisa Gunter, Keith and Jane Ford, Kim and
2. James Ray, “The Road Less Traveled,” BIMI WORLD,
Reggie Rempel, and others.
Number 1, 2007, 2.
Deaf School in Peru