About my mission
One of the biggest questions I get about my mission work is “What do you actually do?” Well, here’s a brief story to answer that question. A friend of mine has a Deaf brother. They both grew up in a church where their father was the pastor. But the Deaf brother was never engaged. He never understood what was happening or got involved. But then, the Deaf brother started going to a church that used sign language. When my friend went to this church, he saw his brother on stage, leading the worship. When Jesus met him in his own language, he was able to worship and lead others to worship, too. Believe it or not, most Deaf worship starts with One Deaf person and a desire to understand.
The three most common questions people ask me about sign language Bible Translation are:
1. Why can’t the Deaf just read the Bible?
90% of deaf adults struggle to read. Reading when you have never heard the sounds to associate the letters to is very difficult. Imagine if I told you that the only way you could get to know your personal Savior and loving Father was through a book written in Persian. But, when you go to learn Persian, the teacher does not speak a word, but just writes things on the board. Every word become a sight word. Every phrase has to be memorized. You will gain some basic understanding, but you won’t be able to understand the depths of the Scripture.
2. How does a Deaf Bible even work?
Sign language Bibles are translated just as thoroughly and correctly as a spoken language Bible. They are community checked for understanding. Exegetically checked for accuracy. And linguistically checked for naturalness. The only difference is when they are recorded, they are filmed and dispersed digitally. You can see an example by clicking here.
3. Why can’t all Deaf use the ASL translation?
First, the ASL translation is not complete. There is not one sign language Bible complete in the entire world. Additionally, sign languages are not all the same. There are an estimated 300+ sign languages around the globe that are different enough from each other that they need their own translation to really understand. As an English speaker, having only a Bible in Tok Pisin would be a good start. But its nothing compared to having the Bible in MY language.
Here’s what I do to help bring Bibles to the Deaf. I find out where the sign languages are. We say there are 300+ languages because no one actually knows. I go to a different country every 3 months and ask questions, talk with locals, meet new Deaf, make connections, and learn words in their language. Then, as a linguist, I can determine if they sign the same as another language or if they will need their own translation. I write reports that get shared throughout bible translation work so that many organizations can see and know where the languages are. I will add information to the Ethnologue (the world’s database on what languages there are in the world.) Then I will turn around and do it all again.
Will you help me? Every penny counts.
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