Asia-Pacific (MNN) — According to the UN, the Asia-Pacific region is home to roughly two-thirds of the world’s population. This includes an estimated 43 million Deaf people, and most Deaf ministries agree less than two-percent of this group knows Jesus.
To reach this population for Christ, Deaf Bible Society is teaming up with another Deaf ministry called APSDA – Asia Pacific Sign Language Development Association. Through an interpreter, Deaf Bible Society’s Tanya Polstra says they’re working with APSDA in nine different countries.
Teamwork makes the dream work
Scripture portions have been translated into a handful of Asia-Pacific sign languages. See a full list on Deaf Bible Society’s website. Translating God’s Word into various sign languages is a good start, but the process cannot stop there. Polstra says Deaf believers need Scripture engagement training.
“Scripture engagement is how we see the world as a Deaf person, and that is through the use of sign language,” she explains.
“When we have sign language Scriptures in our language, it helps us to see who the Lord is. We can dive into His word… and we can see how He expects us to live as His light.”
Deaf Bible Society doesn’t dictate how Scripture engagement training should proceed in Asia-Pacific nations, Polstra says. Instead, they follow APSDA’s lead. “They’re (APSDA workers) very careful to develop their own curriculum that fits culturally, and we support them in providing that training,” she explains.
Scripture engagement training ensures Deaf people know sign language Scripture exists, and it teaches them how to access Scripture through Deaf Bible Society’s tools. However, Polstra says, the training frequently goes beyond these basics.
“Deaf are oftentimes seeing for the first time how they have a calling to share God’s Word,” Polstra says. “They realize that the Lord speaks their language, that the Lord values them; they’re no longer invisible.”
In 2020, Deaf Bible Society and APSDA hope to begin work in three new Asia-Pacific countries. Pray for wisdom for ministry leaders as they plan Scripture engagement training sessions. Ask the Lord to encourage Deaf believers as they learn how to lead others to Christ.
“The world has already labeled what a good leader looks like, but Christ has given us the authority to [lead] His people, and that includes the Deaf,” Polstra says.
“They have a responsibility to develop themselves as leaders, and to disciple others in the Deaf community.”
Scripture engagement training is the focus of Deaf Bible Society’s #GivingTuesday match challenge. Between now and December 3, every donation will be matched up to $14,000. Click here to get involved.
Each gift will be used to equip Deaf leaders to distribute God’s Word in 10 sign languages, leading to transformation in Deaf communities around the world.
Header image courtesy of Deaf Bible Society.