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.
“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.
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.
“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,