USA (MNN) — If someone asked you to name some of the least-reached people groups with the Gospel, you may start listing countries in the 10/40 Window or people groups in remote regions. But one of the most unengaged people groups with the Bible is actually a group in many of our neighborhoods — the Deaf community.
JR Bucklew, President and CEO of Deaf Bible Society, says, “When you can look at the United States and talk about a fully engaged community with Scripture, especially in the South, you have the whole joke of ‘a church on every corner.’… And still in the U.S. today, less than one percent of Deaf people are attending a Bible church.”
That’s why Deaf Bible Society equips outreach to all Deaf communities with the Word of God. And this year, they have some exciting new goals to advance the Great Commission among the Deaf.
First, on the ministry’s Deaf Bible app and online at deaf.bible, there are currently around 20 sign language Bibles offered. But Bucklew says they hope to release another five sign language Bibles this year.
“You think about five languages, what is that in the overall picture of the Deaf world? There are about 40 sign languages that represent more than 80 percent of the world’s Deaf population. And where that may only be ten percent of the languages that exist, they’re much larger language groups. So every time we can onboard five new languages, we get closer to reaching more and more people.”
Also, last year, Deaf Bible Society was able to distribute around 10,000 microSD cards pre-loaded with a Deaf Bible. But this year, they want to go bigger with that outreach.
“Our vision is in this next year, we’d be able to train in-country…270 leaders around the world in how to use technology to distribute sign language Bibles, how to build better engagement groups.” From those trainings, hopefully they’ll be able to distribute nearly 30,000 more Bibles in microSD cards this next year.
Deaf Bible also hopes to enable new Deaf Scripture translation projects in greater numbers. To do this, they’re working with local field partners around the world., “And our vision is, over the next three years, we can see over 40 new translation projects started. So language groups where there is no Bible translation project, will have started a Bible translation project — which that, with the existing projects around the world, we hope to see 80 active sign language translation projects at the end of the next three years.”
Bucklew says this aspect of enabling local Deaf Christian leaders is critical. “Both of our areas of work in Scripture engagement and Bible translation are founded with this core value that we believe the local church is responsible to engage their communities with Scripture. But most local Deaf churches aren’t equipped with the tools and training to do that well. We believe that a local community taking ownership of their Bible translation project produces a much more higher quality product and a much more used product in the end. So all of our work is done with local partners, field organizations, local Deaf ministries and churches.”
As Deaf Bible Society charges into the rest of the year with several Great Commission goals, they could use the support and prayers of other believers with hearts for the Deaf community.
Bucklew asks, “Be praying for all of the players involved. But also be praying that the Lord does continue to send the funding.”
If you’d like to give in support of Deaf Bible Society, click here! Deaf Bible doesn’t want finances to stop what God would have them do, and they appreciate the Body of Christ coming alongside their ministry and investing in this Gospel work.
“What people usually misunderstand is when we give the Bible away for free through digital or on microSD cards, that doesn’t come free to us. We’ve trusted the Lord all along. As they say, God’s work in His time, in His way, never lacks His resources, and that’s been true since the beginning of Deaf Bible Society.”
Bucklew adds you can also join them in Deaf ministry by being prepared to share the Bible with Deaf friends and neighbors! He says you can start by downloading the Deaf Bible app. Then, “contact our teams through our website. You can get app cards and other resources and have those with you. As you’re praying, as you’re giving, be prepared to actually hand the Bible to someone. You never know who you’re going to meet, whether it be at your church or at Starbucks!”