Posted on March 8, 2024 Cloud of Witnesses – Feature Asim Jena

Cloud of Witnesses – Celebrating 210th Anniversary of International Ministries

Mr. Asim Jena

Retired Teacher-in-Charge of Integrated Education for the Deaf

Students in Mission Primary School, Balasore, Orissa, India


My story begins with my family who were brought up by the American Baptist Missionaries in Balasore Mission Station, Orissa, India. My father, the late Mr. Abani Kanta Jena, served as a cook for the American Baptist Missionaries who came to serve in the mission station first, at Hatigarh, and later at Balasore.  My siblings and I grew up in the mission compound, received education through the American Baptist mission schools, and were later educated through the support of American Baptist Missionaries. My eldest sister achieved her higher education and became the Head Teacher of the Mission Girl’s Higher Secondary School at Balasore, Odisha.  My other siblings were also educated and entered service in different areas.

Ms. Sue Powers, an American Baptist Missionary, was in charge of Balasore mission station. In about 1970 she developed a unique project to start an integrated educational program for deaf children. Prior there were no opportunities available for the deaf children to study together with other children; they were sent to separate schools run for the physically challenged. Ms. Powers canvassed the town for children who were deaf and therefore deprived of education. She went from house to house and invited parents who had deaf children to participate in the new integrated program. Ms. Powers invited me to become an instructor for these hearing-impaired children and sent me for special training on lip reading. I went to Chennai (then known as Madras) to learn lip reading. I returned to assume the responsibility of special teacher at Mission Girls’ Primary School, educating the deaf students on how to speak by observing lip movements. Initially, there were only 5 to 6 students but later it increased to 35 students. They were taught together with the other students. I spent my entire career in the service of hearing-impaired children until I retired.

The American Baptist Mission initiative was the only one of its kind. The students who received their primary education in the Mission Primary School later received higher education and formed the Balasore District Deaf Association. It was all possible through the vision of Ms. Susan Powers. She was a great motivator, and she challenged everyone to do good. It was a great opportunity to serve under her. I am grateful to God for her life and ministry.

I was married and have two children, a son and a daughter who are also working. Now I am 71 years old and live in Balasore, Orissa with my family.