Can I confess with my hands that Jesus is Lord?

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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

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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

 

For Such A Time As This

It was around the year 1439 when Johannes Gutenberg began to work on something that would be revolutionary for the world. His invention of mechanical movable type printing changed the way information was shared for hundreds of years! This and other advancements led up to more efficient bulk printing and began to carry education and other literary resources to the nations like never before. We saw nations impacted by the mass importing of the Bible, teaching, and catechisms unlike anytime in history.

What would you do to have been able to contribute to such a movement as that? I know there are many wonderful causes and ministries that you are already giving to, but can you imagine what it would be like to have given to that cause? Imagine yourself having been one of the founding donors and partners in such a ministry. Imagine that for generations all of the ministries and organizations that would benefit from those foundational stones that you helped put in place with the Gutenberg press. It would be quite exciting huh?

Well what if I told you there is a similar opportunity for you to have such an impact TODAY? In fact there is a movement among us that is putting the foundational stones in place so for generations to come millions of people will be reached with the Gospel because of this effort.

Today we have the opportunity to build foundations and put things in place that will allow us to reach and engage one of the largest most unreached/unengaged people groups in the world. They are not specific to a geographic region or bound by the borders of nations. They are all around us. They are our worlds Signers. They are our worlds Deaf people groups.

Signers, or the Deaf, are a people unlike any other in the world. Everything they do, communicate, and share is visual. Their entire cultures and languages are based on visuals. They are exactly like you other than the fact that they communicate in a different language. Actually if you have been sitting in a Starbucks or any other cafe for the last half hour chances are a Signer has been through and you never even noticed.

You are probably wondering why I keep referring to them as signers and not just saying “Deaf people”. No, this is not a more politically correct term, or even something that is formally used in any particular setting. Actually to be honest this is just a personal term I like to use. I am a person who hears, but I am also a CODA (child of Deaf adults). Being a CODA I have been signing my whole life. Actually I sign in my sleep, and still today I seem to connect more with signed scripture than when reading it. We also tend to view Deaf people as a subset of our culture and community and then the only difference is that they can’t hear. When really it is much more than something related to the ability or inability to hear… Signers have a strong history, strong culture, and beautiful languages. It is because of these things, and my desire to be included :-), that I say signer(s). 

Signers have been severally denied access to scripture. This hasn’t been something intentional from the oral (hearing) christian community, but really is because of something I call “innocent ignorance”. The oral church hasn’t really understood the Deaf community and how to work with them. There haven’t been efficient platforms put in place for Deaf leaders within the church to lead effectively and have successful partnerships with major oral organizations. The fact is that the biggest barrier preventing signers from having access to scripture is the fact that there isn’t any. Did you know that of the 400+ sign languages in the world there isn’t a full Bible translated into a single one.

This is a big problem! Not one sign language has a complete Bible?!!? No wonder evangelism in the signing community is tough, no wonder it is hard to plant sign cultured churches, and no wonder missions among signers is difficult. There are not enough Bible resources translated into these signed languages so Deaf leaders can know how to move forward, but DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! Today there is hope!

Just like the impact the Gutenberg press had on the world and missions. Today technology is at a place where we can make a significant impact in taking the Gospel to signers all around the world! Deaf Bible has partnered with Sign Language Bible Translators all around the world to provide accessibility to signed Bibles for any signer anywhere. Currently Deaf Bible provides signers with access to Bible content in 15 different sign languages through the Deaf Bible app, the podcast store, and online at DeafBible.com or Bible.is/Deaf.

This next year Deaf Bible will begin scripture engagement programs in these 15 language groups using our digital formats along with solar powered devices. Currently only 2% of the Deaf world has been engaged with scripture. It is our vision to see that 75% of the world’s Deaf population be engaged with scripture in their heart sign language by 2025. This is not just our vision, but it is a collaborative effort between us and some of our translation partners like DOOR International.

Today you have the opportunity to make a significant impact on a largely unreached people group. You have the opportunity to donate and see people engage with scripture for years to come because of this Gutenberg moment. We have our “printing press” but we need more languages, and we need more tools to engage these signers with God’s Word. Would you consider making a donation this Christmas to this Gutenberg moment in history, and see millions of Deaf lives impacted by having God’s Word in their Heart Sign Language.

For just as it was said to Esther, “And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” – Esther 4:14

You have a purpose, and God has blessed you with resources and has brought you into His Kingdom. Who knows whether or not it was for such a time as this and for such a cause as this.

Every dollar you donate goes directly to bringing the Bible to the Deaf in their heart language. Would you join us?

Until all the Deaf have seen, 

J.R. Bucklew

©coda4christ

©DeafBible

His Word to the nations…

This past week I had the privilege of representing Deaf Bible at the Forum of Bible Agencies North America conference in Niagara Falls, Canada. This was a big event for me because there were going to be several representatives of Deaf ministries present, and there has never been this kind of representation of Deaf ministry work at FOBA-NA. It was a wonderful time of fellowship and networking with other ministry leaders! We were able to hear some very compelling presentations on the needs of youth and the need for more strategic and intentional ministry among them.

This was all wonderful! However, as I sat in this conference hall and thought about the dying lost world buzzing around us. I couldn’t help but think, “Surely there is more we could be doing.” I mean I realize that the organizations represented are doing incredible work! They are doing things that we could only have dreamed of 30, 15, or even 5 years ago. It wasn’t until I started to rethink one of the previous presentations that it actually hit me. Dr. Lawson Murray of Scripture Union Canada shared with us what he believed to be the problem at the roots of decline in scripture use. It was simple…. The problem wasn’t that the Bible just isn’t compelling enough, or cool enough, or boxed together and presented in such a way that someone is more inclined to read it. The problem was a salvation issue.The problem was and is their relationship with Jesus Christ.

This was such a timely and inspiring message for me. I was so bogged down with politics, and the feelings of strategy and distribution principals that I needed the reminder that Jesus is the answer. That even if I sit in my office, strategize, plan, and promote but do not get on the bus, ferry, train, or taxi and engage people in conversation, and actually share Jesus with them, all the planning and training is in vain. I teach and train and build programs that help people with Bible distribution and Scripture Use programs among Deaf communities, but how could I truly expect any of that to be successful if I am not intentionally out there doing it myself?

Sure we see fruit in our work. Sure we see people engaging with scripture. Sure we strive to glorify the Lord in all we do as a ministry. BUT what am I, J.R. Bucklew, doing to daily engage those in my community with the Word of God? So many times we get lost in our “ministries” that we forget to minister. We get so side tracked, because we work with Bibles day in and day out, that we forget to sit down and actually converse with the Lord over His Word. My prayer after listening to Dr. Lawson was that I truly feel the fire burn in me again with a passion to personally share Jesus with people every chance I get.

Psalm 37:23 “The steps of a man are established by the LORD, when he delights in his way;”

I am sure many of you have felt like this in the past. Maybe you are feeling these things now. However the Lord is faithful to His promises. If we delight in Him, and truly seek His face , He will establish our steps. He will make known to us where to go.

I began to pray about these things as we headed to Signs Restaurant and Bar in Toronto. This is a restaurant that is staffed by mostly Deaf individuals, you have to order your food in Sign Language, and the whole place is decorated with Sign Language themed art. Truly an awesome place to experience. While we were there we met a bus boy from Sri Lanka named Siva. As we talked with Siva we found out that Sri Lankan Sign Language is very similar to a Sign Language in Southern India used by Deaf living in Kerala. I was SO EXCITED because in the Deaf Bible app we have Bible portions translated by DOOR International in Keralan Sign Language! So I called Siva over and showed him Genesis 1 (the first portion in the set). His face began to change as a smile took over and not long after he was glowing! He then began to copy what was being signed in the Bible portion and then began to ask us where we got that from. I showed him how he could download the Deaf Bible app on his phone and watch it all he wants. 

This story was such a simple example to me of how personally engaging people with God’s Word is to be a natural part of my life. Is it a natural part of your life?

Here are some things to consider as you strive along with me to make sharing His Word a more natural part of our daily lives.

Take part in His Word

You probably already know this, but in order to effectively share His Word we must know His Word. The more we are actively in the Word -> the more we are drawn to this precious savior -> the more we want to share Him and His Word with the world around us.

Isaiah 55:11

“so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.”

His Word has power. Take part in it! Find a daily reading plan and stick to it. Trust me I know how difficult it can be to stick to it, but push yourself. Work out in the Word. Build yourself up to being able to take in more and more and more.

Pray

To better understand the book we must be closer to the author. It is so important that prayer be a part of our daily lives. It is also important that we have real intentional conversations with the Lord. None of that “God is good God is great, Amen” stuff. A real conversation with a real living God! When you meet with Him in prayer ask Him that wisdom be granted to you. Ask Him for strength and a passion to share His Word with the nations. Ask Him for more understanding of His Word.

Matthew7:7

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.

Have Good Resources

Finally, have some good resources in your pocket that you can use when you share. I say pocket because there are so many wonderful tools out there that you can download onto your mobile device FREELY, and have them ready to share. Let’s look at a few examples and how they can be used.

Deaf Bible – Deaf Bible is a good ministry and they have some great resources available when sharing His Word with Deaf people in your community. They have the Deaf Bible app which can be downloaded freely on your apple, android, and kindle fire devices. They also have content accessible in the podcast store, and in youtube. They work in collaboration with Sign Language Bible Translators around the world and are now providing access to Bible content in 14 Sign Languages.

Bible.is – Bible.is is a great resource to have when sharing His Word with people from various nations. With Bible content available in more than 800 languages you can’t go wrong having this free Bible app loaded on your device. Bible.is specializes in Audio Bible recordings so that even those that are non-literate can still access and engage with scripture. This has proved to be a great resource when I have met people from different countries. Whether in Starbucks, the airport, or loading it up and playing the audio in the back of a taxi cab.

YouVersion – The YouVersion Bible app is a great tool if sharing with someone who not only wants to access Bible content, but also wants some more bells and whistles in the study features. YouVersion also provides some nice devotionals and other resources outside of the Bible that can come in handy.

Browser Bible – The Browser Bible, brought to us from the guys at the Digital Bible Society, is a tool that I use quite often. This wonderful free Bible web app allows you to have multiple versions open, and you can also access the audio recordings that have been created by Faith Comes By Hearing. A truly unique study experience and it is all available free online.

I hope some of these resources can be put to good use as you take His Word to the Nations.

Until all the Deaf have seen,

J.R. Bucklew

My time in Sri Lanka

Preparation

Where do I even begin? I suppose it all starts months back when we were in a meeting at Deaf Bible’s home office in Albuquerque, NM. We were discussing FOBAI’s (Forum of Bible Agencies International) desire to have the inaugural meeting for the Deaf and Sign Language Development Group. I don’t think I knew what I was taking on when I said I would help organize it.

I had planned meetings in the past, but as it turns out trying to organize a meeting with different organizations coming together to discuss various topics related to translation and engagement wasn’t a simple task. Then throw in the fact that it all has to take place in a country in SE Asia! But I suppose things like that kind of excited me. I was eager to plan it and see it come to fruitfulness. I do thank my team, and our partners for all of the help that they provided. Whether it was emailing, having video phone calls, presenting on various topics, recording the whole meeting in video so we would have adequate minutes in ASL, and just simply being hands and feet. They proved themselves to be powerful servants in the Kingdom work and I was and am grateful for them.

 

Departure

We took off from the Albuquerque Sunport at around 11:59PM on April the 6th. Our flight to JFK was a decent one but trying to stay awake until my flight to Dubai was quite.. umm… exhausting! We were off to a wonderful start as we had a beautiful 4 1/2 hour layover in New York before our 2nd leg of the trip. We found our gate and one of the only open restaurants in the area, and so we sat down and ordered breakfast.

It became quite humorous as we started to play some card games. One of those games required you to use 4 quarters. Each time you “lost” you put in a quarter and the person who had quarters left won. The problem was we didn’t have quarters and so we improvised. We had dollar bills! In our fatigue and exhaustion in travels we began to realize just how odd we looked. We then recognized the fact that our quaint little breakfast place was an Irish Pub in which we were playing cards and using cash that was being thrown in a pile in the middle of the table. An innocent mistake… that could have been misunderstood. This gave us quite a laugh as we thought, “We’re just folks from a Bible agency headed to an International Bible conference.” I’m sure you can see the humor in that.

We finally made it to Colombo, Sri Lanka and were just walking out of the airport with our driver when we realized this was no ordinary day. You see we had arrived at the same time as the World Cup Champions Sri Lankan cricket team. It was certainly an exciting time for the Sri Lankans and being in the midst of their hundred thousand person crowd outside the airport was definitely exciting.

 

Arrival and Week’s Beginnings

 It must have only been a few minutes after we arrived at the hotel that we met other Deaf friends in the lobby. There were folks from Kenya, Japan, India, and the United States! It was a very well mixed group and on tip of our variety we were meeting in Sri Lanka.

It must have been about 6 or 7:00PM by this time and we were quite jet lagged. I still needed to figure out where our meeting room was going to be and if all of the supplies were set up. This was an urgent task as our meeting would begin the next morning. So, I finally got all of the information I needed, had dinner, and then it was off to bed.

7:00AM rolled around quickly as we were now sitting down for breakfast. It really was an amazing hotel with an amazing view. What a great place to have a conference. I remember thinking that I might pay more at regular Marriott back in the U.S. just to look out at a parking lot but to have breakfast on a terrace overlooking the Indian Ocean… well… I couldn’t complain.Looking at the Indian Ocean

We started the Deaf Development group meetings at 9:00 that morning. Beginning with introductions of the various organizations and ministries, and their presentations about their international work. The day consisted of presentations and workshop type discussions on Bible translation methodology, Technology and distribution models, Scripture Use Models, and discussions on Deaf leaders within a hearing world (meaning how signers operate, manage, communicate, and partner with ministries within an oral hearing environment).

Now if you know anything about Deaf culture and how things operate we had meetings the rest of the week titled “Parking Lot Discussions”. This is simply an observation of the Deaf community and how information is usually shared and discussed. Conversations can carry on for a while in the Deaf world, and often times whether at Church, Deaf clubs, or other meetings the group will often end up still having their discussions in the parking lot even after the “official” meeting has ended. So any time a topic or idea was brought up that wasn’t on the meeting agenda it was moved to the Parking Lot discussion list. Then for the rest of the week the Deaf Development group simply worked through the list to attempt and cover as much as possible.

This was truly a wonderful time for these ministries to gather and discuss what is really happening in the Deaf world regarding translation and scripture use. It was a wonderful opportunity for networking and relationship building, but more importantly a time of fellowship and prayer.

 

Radical Requests for Immediate Impact

 We know that the Deaf are one of the largest most unreached and unengaged people groups in the WORLD. With only 2% exposure, and only 5% of Deaf Americans attending church at any time in the year. Now this is a people group who have long gone not only unrecognized but have also been misunderstood by the hearing/oral community. Their culture, their people, and their languages are the primary things that the Hearing/Oral culture have misunderstood.

It isn’t necessarily because of intended oppression or un-interest, but there has been a lack of education. You see, in the Deaf world there often times is a lack of understanding, because lack of communication leads to a lack of information and therefore you are left with a lack of understanding. This is largely why the Deaf are so unreached with the Gospel. This is also why the Hearing/Oral Community are so unaware, but make no mistake efforts are being made and sometimes we tend to fight against awareness. So we must make sure that as the needs of the Deaf and Sign Language community are presented that we open up our minds to accept awareness because it is then that change will take place.

It is this reason that myself and others have been fighting for the Deaf community to be recognized, and not only to be reached but that Deaf leaders be welcomed into places of leadership within the missions world. Because those that can best reach and educate are those from the Deaf and Sign Language Community. So this year we were finally given space to have a Deaf and Sign Language development group under the Forum of Bible Agencies International. However if you know anything about me this wasn’t going to be enough.

I had a couple of meals with some of the FOBAI leadership. I explained the needs, made the case, and introduced them to several Deaf leaders. It was after this (and much prayer) that I felt the Lord would bless our request. So myself, and a brother from Japan approached the board and CEO’s and asked that the FOBAI annual conference theme for 2016 be Deaf and Sign Languages. Meaning that the whole conference will focus in on the needs of the Deaf and Sign Language community. With workshops and presentations centered on Sign Language Bible translation, Scripture Use models, Deaf children’s ministry, Church planting within the Deaf community, Sending Deaf missionaries, and more.

This is a wonderful opportunity for our community to be recognized officially and have such an opportunity to impact and bring awareness to the many Bible ministries in the world.

Isaiah talks about the world falling apart, scoffers, and idolaters. He then records the Lord saying in 29:18-19

“In that day the deaf shall hear

the words of a book,

and out of their gloom and darkness

the eyes of the blind shall see.

The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,

and the poor among mankind shall exult in the Holy One of Israel”. (ESV)

What an opportunity we have in this day and age for the Deaf to experience the Bible in their heart sign languages. To have access that is unprecedented to anything before. We rejoice and continue to rejoice as Deaf all over the world are obtaining fresh joy in the Lord!

 

Pray friends for the needs of the Sign Language community and for the Gospel going forth in the world. Be on the look out for my next Blog detailing my time in India and Hong Kong. Also be watching out for a Blog series that I will soon begin posting titled “My Deaf Heart”.

 

Until all the Deaf have seen,

J.R.