International (MNN) — The Every Tribe Every Nation movement has an incredible all-access goal for the Great Commission. This coalition of ministries is aiming to get a full Bible into every language used by at least 500,000 people by 2033.
Deaf Bible Society is part of Every Tribe Every Nation alliance and is helping advance the all-access Bible translation goal — specifically for sign languages!
JR Bucklew, President of Deaf Bible Society, explains, “Our role isn’t doing translation on the ground. Our role is really highlighting the projects, bringing awareness, [and] helping resource them. We work with national partners on the ground. We recognize that as the fastest way we’re going to be able to accomplish this vision.”
For all languages used by 5,000-500,000 people, Every Tribe Every Nation also hopes to make the New Testament available by 2033. And for languages with populations of less than 5,000, the alliance of ministries aims to get at least 25 chapters of Scripture translated by 2033.
For sign languages, however, this all-access goal is easier said than done. Unlike spoken languages, there wasn’t much data on sign languages even a few years ago. As we shared yesterday, the collection of data for sign languages was spurred by Deaf Bible Society and has greatly improved. This gave Bible translation initiatives a starting point for sign languages.
“Deaf Bible Society’s role coming into this was saying, ‘Okay, let’s first identify how many sign languages we feel like are vital for Bible translation.’ And now we’re able to do that. ‘Let’s determine approximately the population of signers within each of those languages.’ And we’ve been able to do that.”
This year, Deaf Bible Society and their ministry partners plan to start 25 new sign language Scripture translations.
“To start those type of projects in 25 sign languages next year will be huge. It will be the most acceleration we’ve ever seen in sign language Bible translation.”
For Bible translations to be successful for sign languages, Bucklew points out that the whole process is Deaf-centric. “The best way to do this is by starting locally sustainable sign language ecosystems where Deaf people are trained and equipped to do Bible translation and Scripture engagement work among themselves well; not for them to be eternally dependant on Deaf Bible Society.”
We talk a lot about the trifecta of involvement in missions — praying, giving, and going. But Bucklew says rather than just doing any or all of these things passively, Deaf Bible Society would love to see believers “lean in” and passionately advocate for Gospel outreach among the Deaf.
“We’re really looking for ambassadors. So how people can really help is pray, but praying in a sense of, ‘Lord, would you have me truly become an ambassador for this cause? Someone who waves the banner for the sign language movement among my Sunday school group, among my church, among my community in order to see that more Deaf people will be reached for the Gospel than ever before.’”
“We truly believe the Gospel is for every person, including the Deaf, and that they have a right to access the Bible in their language, their sign language, so they can have personal communion and community with God and with his people.”
(Header photo courtesy of Deaf Bible Society)