“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matthew 11:29.


In Matthew 11:29, Jesus invites us into a revelation of His heart. The words “gentle and lowly” can be surprising considering His sheer power, yet they are clearly reflected in the pages of His life: intertwined in each teaching, displayed in every miracle for the forgotten, and painted in the very skies we live under. Every moment of His life, all leading up to His ultimate sacrifice for us, uncovers a captivating reflection of our Savior, who is truly “gentle and lowly in heart.”


Ouédrago’s Story

The Easter season not only reminds us of this truth but also invites us to live it, something that Ouédrago Salam, head of Institut des Jeunes Sourds du Faso in Burkina Faso (Institute of Young Deaf People of Faso), has lived out in his community. By serving special needs students at his school, specifically those with hearing disabilities, he shows us what it looks like to live a life of gentleness through serving the marginalized. In a nation where educational opportunities for these students are few and far between, this school steps into the gap, providing a place for them to belong, learn, and grow.


In Burkina Faso, there is often no specific fund to support a student with hearing disabilities in the classroom, such as paying for specialized teachers or necessary resources. Because of this, learners with hearing disabilities face the end of their educational journey after primary school, where they immediately go into lines of work such as dressmaking, shoemaking, or carpentry — leaving untapped potential resulting from further schooling. 


These learners are often left behind in a repeating cycle of societal exclusion, yet Institut des Jeunes Sourds du Faso does the opposite. Rather than heeding in step with an educational system that overlooks students with special needs, they have halted with arms wide open. They step into the gap, providing humble, willing teachers specifically trained in sign language to nurture each student. 


For example, where before, a hearing-disabled student would read an assignment on the chalkboard, retaining questions and remaining silent, they now confidently raise their hand, clearly articulating any questions. For these learners, it’s groundbreaking to clearly express themselves and connect with their teachers. When the school partnered with Edify in 2022, the help of the Burkina Faso Team boosted the school’s mission to a new level. 


The Transformation to Follow

Ouédrago shares, “Since [we partnered with] Edify, we now have a Discipleship Club, and our students participated in the Youth Leadership Training Camp held here in Bobo in July 2023. We also had a computer lab that we hardly used, but the technology integration training Edify provided to our school has reinforced our capacities.”


Whether the revitalized computer lab, faith-building times at camp, or holy moments during the Discipleship Club, Edify’s partnership is sparking transformation. For the students coming from Muslim families, these activities unlock doors for each teacher to share (in sign language) the most powerful message of all: Jesus. With time and the continued trust that comes from humble teachings, many of these students are opening their hearts to Jesus. For a hearing-disabled student named Soma, turning to Jesus looked like scripture memorization through sign language and memorizing verses such as 1 Timothy 4:12.


Because of this school’s compassion to pursue and empower special needs students, young men and women who once were discounted have discovered the power of Christ-centered education. In the same way that Jesus completed the ultimate sacrifice so that we may be one with Him, this school has ensured that “each student is fully welcomed, never to be excluded,” as Ouédrago shared. As we enter into the Easter season, may we learn from the cherished truths that Ouédrago has lived out and further uncover what Jesus meant when He described Himself as gentle and lowly.