Middle East North Africa (MNN) — Of the world’s more than 300 sign languages, not one has a complete Bible. DOOR International is now working with local Deaf communities to begin sign language Scripture translations in the Middle East and North Africa.
Reaching an Underserved Community
“Only one (sign language) has the New Testament right now. And, only about 30 have any published Scripture at all,” says DOOR President and CEO Rob Myers.
DOOR International is working to change these statistics and focuses on bringing Scripture to the millions of unreached Deaf people around the world. Learn more about their work here.
“When you get into a community where even Christians typically have much more difficulty accessing Scripture, when you add deafness on top of that it makes it very, very difficult for…people to have any sort of Gospel access at all,” Myers says.
The number of unreached people is vast, Myers explains. Though individuals using sign language as their first language make up one percent of a typical population, among populations in the hundreds of millions that one percent represents more than a million people. That number can be even higher in communities in Eastern Africa and the Middle East due to higher levels of inter-family marriage. In some Muslim countries, that Deaf population is closer to five percent.
Beginning the Translation Journey
In the Middle East and North African region, DOOR has partnered with local believers to translate Scripture into sign languages. Currently, these Deaf believers struggle to understand the written Van Dyke Arabic translation.
DOOR is looking to partner with this community and several other organizations to translate the Bible into their sign language. The coalition plans to begin translation work within the year. Rather than translating an entire book at a time, DOOR’s goal is a chronological translation. This method focuses on translating key passages of scripture to deliver a full picture of the Bible’s message.
“It’s different than typical book-by-book translation, Myers says. The Chronological Bible Translation (CBT) uses passages from “the beginning of Scripture, up through the time of Christ, and even into the early church,” he explains.
“That Bible translation would allow Deaf people to have full access to certain portions of Scripture that really help them understand the overarching story of how God’s interacted with humanity.”
Two and a half years from now, DOOR hopes to have this translated scripture accessible to Deaf communities, leaders, and churches.
How can I make a Difference?
First and foremost, Myers asks for your prayers.
“Prayer really is one of the keys to unlocking Gospel access in communities that for thousands of years have never had access to Scripture.”
You can set your alarm and join believers around the world every day at 3:21 p.m. in prayer for the international Deaf community. The time was chosen because of Romans 15:21; 15:21 in military time is 3:21 p.m. on a 12-hour clock. Pray daily for a specific need by staying connected via DOOR’s prayer calendar and email prayer list.
Pray Deaf communities around the world will finally have access to Scripture in their first language.
Ask for success and wisdom in this community and among organizations as they take on this translation endeavor.
You can donate to DOOR International here.
Header image courtesy of Wycliffe Global Alliance via DOOR International.