High unemployment and discrimination add to the woes of the Deaf community. Deaf translators working with DOOR International, a global Deaf-to-Deaf ministry, know this all too well.
“Here in South Sudan, we have grown up divided. Most of us have seen our family members killed or maimed. Some were sent to jail for many years. The people who do those acts of evil are often the same people who live around us,” a Deaf woman told DOOR’s translators.
“It is hard to trust people here. Betrayal is real.”
DOOR President Rob Myers states, “All of these things affect Deaf people to the point where they suffer…more than other people in the country. That kind of trauma that they’ve gone through…often leads them to bitterness and anger and a lack of forgiveness.”
John’s story shines like a beacon of hope against this backdrop.
Deaf translator overcomes betrayal
John, a Deaf man, is part of DOOR’s sign language Bible translation team. More about DOOR’s work here.
John’s brother recently lied to his parents and sold all of John’s cows.
“The average person in South Sudan makes around somewhere between $600 and $700 a year. So, this would be the equivalent of about half a year’s pay that was stolen by one of his brothers.”
It could’ve been the “perfect crime” – John was away, working at DOOR’s translation center in Nairobi, Kenya, and not expected to return for months. John’s brother would’ve gotten away with this exploitation if not for the kindness of a friend. This individual messaged John and told him the bad news.
John asked his friend to try and stop the sale, Myers shares, and “by the time he got home, villagers had confiscated the cows. But, John’s brother had already spent all of the money…so, it was impossible to buy the cows back.”
Betrayal like this may be common, but John’s response is not.
“Through the work of the translation, John encountered some amazing stories about forgiveness that Jesus had told: the story about the prodigal son, the story about Simon asking [Christ], ‘how many times should I forgive my brother when he sins against me?’,” says Myers.
“John realized that he needed to forgive his brother. So… he forgave him, and he actually spent his own money and bought the cows back.”
Forgiveness seems counterintuitive. It’s a teaching unlike anything the Deaf of South Sudan have encountered. And, it’s a concept only understood when God’s Spirit moves through God’s Word.
“If he (John) didn’t have that resource, then he wouldn’t have been able to experience the kind of forgiveness that God truly wants for His people,” Myers observes.
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“Many, many people around the world still don’t know that Deaf people are one of the… largest unreached people groups in the world,” says Myers.
“It’s incredibly important – if we’re going to complete the Great Commission – that Deaf communities, Deaf language groups, are a part of that.”
Only a few dozen of the world’s 350 sign languages have any portions of Scripture. No sign language has a complete Bible. Support sign language Bible translation here through DOOR International.
Header image credit UNMISS via Flickr.