A Useless Commentary

We all know that bible study tools are extremely helpful, but what if I were to tell you that creating a new Bible commentary would be totally useless?

One of the hats that I get to wear, as the president of Deaf Bible Society, is the advocacy hat. Many times, as I am out building our network and fundraising for the organization, I often have to take off my fundraising hat and put on my education hat. One story I would like to share, is a commentary story that had a major impact on one of my travels.

I was in the Southeast meeting with a newly introduced person, working within a pretty major organization. This organization specialized in apologetics and biblical philosophy and was quite known for its many publishings. As I was at lunch with this new friend, I was explaining our work in sign language Bible translation and distribution, and trying to help him understand the needs for this work. He immediately stopped me and said,

“but what about commentary? Don’t the Deaf need a good Bible commentary in American Sign Language?” Of course, all I could do was agree with him. I said,

“I believe that we should have several commentaries developed in American Sign Language, we should have Biblical and Systematic Theology resources developed in American Sign Language, and we should have resources for Christology and Christian hedonism developed in American Sign Language!” I then just sat there and looked at him. He then asked,

“So why don’t you develop one?”

“Because it is hard to commentate on something that doesn’t exist!” I responded. I went on, “There is not ONE sign language in the world with a complete Bible, and only ONE of the estimated 400+ sign languages has a new testament.”

How do we expect to develop good BIBLICAL resources in a sign language, when a BIBLE does not exist in that sign language?

After a moment of silence, this new friend looked at me and simply said,

“Brother, we have a problem. WE NEED BIBLES!”

Finally, the point I was trying to make sunk in. Their own organization can not effectively engage the US Deaf audience, as they do not have resources available in American Sign Language. We cannot develop these resources in American Sign Language because there would be no full Bible to reference back to! What we have to understand is that this goes beyond a literacy issue. If I were to quote the statistics of 65% of Deaf Americans being illiterate, you would assume that had something to do with intelligence rather than language difference.

Once my friend realized that the problem was related to language access, effective teaching and learning his whole world was changed. To this day, he is a faithful advocate and advisor as we try to educate other organizations within this network.

The problem still exists that millions of Deaf people live their lives without access to the Bible in their language… their SIGN LANGUAGE. While we are seeing great progress made in the area of Bible translation, there are still millions who are not aware some of these resources are being developed.

You and I have the opportunity to engage people with the Gospel in their sign language, unlike any other time in history. You and I have the opportunity to be a part of the final frontier of new language Bible translation. Through prayer, giving, and going we can make God’s name great among the sign language nations! I pray you will seek how you can be sure that, when it comes time for sign language commentary, it will certainly be a useful one.  12622095_10153966296493707_8524354221170163089_o

Super Bowl 50, Sign Language, & the Bible – We See You Deaf Community

A few Sunday’s ago, more than 110 million viewers tuned in to watch one of the biggest sporting events in the world — Super Bowl 50 with the Carolina Panthers and Denver Broncos. The Super Bowl ended with what seemed to be one clear winner and one loser. But there were millions of other Americans who, once again, lost. They are the ones who communicate in American Sign Language. As the national anthem was sung by Lady Gaga, Marlee Matlin, an Academy Award-winning deaf actress, gave her beautiful rendition of this most patriotic song in American Sign Language. It’s sad, though, that only a few seconds of it were seen.

It seems only fitting that after the success the National Association of the Deaf has had in getting Netflix and iTunes to provide captions and subtitles for deaf individuals to be able to watch movies, something like signing the performance of the national anthem at one of our country’s largest public gatherings would be an awesome sight to see and experience, as well as important to the deaf community. Whatever reason the media uses to explain this away, it comes down to the simple fact that they probably didn’t recognize the value in it and chose not to show it.

Several years ago, the Deaf Bible Society team spoke with people at a well-known ministry that holds large crusades. The crusades are streamed live. We were so excited to find that they offer an interpreter at the event – so we proposed that they should also live stream the interpreter, so that deaf from around the country could tune-in and learn of the salvation message. We were told that it would cost too much and would take too much time to accommodate such a small part of the community. This was frustrating but not unusual coming from a group unfamiliar with working with the deaf.

Deaf Bible Society believes that the best way to engage deaf communities with the Scripture is to provide access to the Bible in their heart sign language. We understand that communication is vital. A breakdown in communication results in a loss of information, leaving people without knowledge or understanding. The deaf are considered one of the largest unreached people groups in the world because we have not taken the initiative to make the Gospel available to them in their heart sign languages and in a way they can efficiently engage with it and share it.

The challenge for Deaf Bible Society is that we lack the resources necessary to make this happen. We need to help the media and other ministry organizations understand the value — transforming the lives of the deaf. It is not unlike the communities that were colonized or enslaved; people prohibited from education because “an educated man is a free man.” Historically, governments kept people down by creating a breakdown in communication and prohibiting education.

Showing the signed rendition of the national anthem was easy, inexpensive, and desired by the community. If this simple and easy resource is not made available, what happens to the more challenging situations? Those challenging situations are much more critical than the opening of the Super Bowl — they involve the eternal lives of people.

Deaf Bible Society believes it is the right of every Deaf person to have access to the Bible in their heart sign language — a language they communicate in effectively so that they can decide the relevance for themselves.. Whatever your religious views are of the Bible, as a literate person you have had the opportunity and choice to read or not to read it; to engage with it or not engage with it; and decide what you need for your own spiritual
benefit.

The same lack of understanding that the media had with showing the signed rendition of the national anthem has infiltrated the church at large. We allow ourselves to be persuaded that sign language Bible translation is difficult, expensive, hard to understand, and, ultimately, not valuable. However, if we truly believe the Great Commission, Jesus’ command to make disciples of all nations in Matthew 28, then we must agree that all nations includes all deaf people. It isn’t left to us to determine which people groups are worthy of the message, but it is left to us to take this worthy message to all people groups.

There is hope for tomorrow!

 

See more at www.DeafBibleSociety.com 

Can I confess with my hands that Jesus is Lord?

IMG_0799

My verse of the day is Romans 10:9-10 which says “…because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.” 

 This verse was very timely for me as this week our team begun work on a very exciting project that has the potential to share the Gospel with hundreds of thousands of Deaf in the Middle East. I have been truly overwhelmed at the thought of how good God is and how He truly is the master architect of reaching the nations. 

 However it has been verses like this that have been tremendous stumbling blocks in the Deaf coming to know Christ. Not because of the scripture itself, but because of serious misinterpretations by ministry leaders and pastors. I can’t tell you how many times I have counseled with a Deaf person that was truly distraught and heartbroken by the thought that they couldn’t experience salvation in Christ. When I would gain understand of their reasoning for this it always came back to something they were told by a pastor. That usually something goes something like this, “Well the Bible says faith comes by hearing, and you can’t hear so therefore you can’t be saved”. Or “The scripture says you must confess with your MOUTH and you can’t speak well enough to confess it verbally so you can’t have life everlasting”. 

 Each time I see my friends signing these misconceptions it breaks my heart…. To see their true desire to know Christ but to then be damned by the minister because of ‘mis-interpretation’. This very experience is one that not only I, but many of my colleagues have faced in the mission field, and let me add this has not only happened abroad but many times in the U.S. as well. 

 We face the task of trying to penetrate one of the worlds LARGEST unreached people groups with the Gospel. Where more than 98% of the Deaf in the world have never even been told of Christ. We are then faced with the reality that today there is not one complete Bible in any sign language in the world. How will they ‘hear’ (know) unless there is a Bible in their language. How can one be truly effective at evangelism and discipleship unless he/she has the pure Word of God to follow? How will the Deaf come to know Him? 

 Today we provide access to Bible content in over 15 sign languages. Deaf people are able to see in their heart language that indeed, they can come to know Him and that they too can have a relationship with Christ. The Bible in their native sign language has often been so overwhelming as many Deaf thought they were worthless and that their languages were not on par with spoken languages. But now they see that God would have His message delivered to them in sign language! That they CAN look to heaven and boldly sign “I confess that Jesus is Lord and I believe in my heart that God raised Him from the dead!” 

 This week we had a team of people began working on the very first evangelistic resource in a middle eastern sign language! This resource will have the potential to reach many with the Gospel and be a stepping stone towards sign language Bible translation projects in that region. 

 Would you join me in prayer for the millions of Deaf in the world who have not encountered the message of Christ. Pray that we would find the workers to go out into the fields and labor. Pray that God would send the financial resources needed to complete this task. 

 And boldly confess with your mouths and with your hands that Jesus is Lord! 

Until all the Deaf have seen,

J.R.

Deaf Bible Society Born

 

 

International (MNN)- Since Faith Comes By Hearing creates audio Bibles, it seemed there was no way to reach out to the deaf community. But, they found a solution by launching a Deaf Bible App in 2012.

“The Deaf Bible App, today, has about 16 languages in it, over 500,000 users worldwide–just tremendous distribution,” Bucklew says.

In 2013, Deaf Bible was born as a part of Faith Comes By Hearing. Since the deaf community was in such desperate need of help and interpretation, the division grew rapidly.

“Through that process we began to realize that one of our biggest complications in engaging deaf communities with the Scripture was going to be the fact that there were very few amounts of translation projects going on. There wasn’t enough content to engage deaf communities around the world,” Bucklew explains.

“Faith Comes By Hearing is not involved in Bible translations, but we’re seeing an increasing need for us to be involved in translation when it comes to Sign Language.”

That’s why Deaf Bible is now separating from Faith Comes By Hearing and becoming it’s own ministry.

Continue Reading….

 

 

https://www.mnnonline.org/news/deaf-bible-making-a-change-to-help-75-percent-of-deaf-community/

Interview with Mission Network News

IMG_3150

 

 

 

 

 

Deaf Bible past, present, and future

 

International (MNN) — It can be difficult to read our Bibles. There’s a fair amount of concentration required to understand what we’re reading.

And unless you’re a theological scholar, you probably don’t read your Bible in a second language. If you did, you’d miss some very important nuances of the text.

That’s kind of what it’s like for the deaf community: their heart language, sign language, is completely different from written language. Until recently, sign language has been overlooked for Bible translation.

Continue Reading…

 

Deaf Bible past, present, and future