Deaf Christians in Africa learning to engage Scripture

By August 26, 2019

Africa (MNN) — Deaf people in Africa don’t often get the attention and support they need. In some contexts, a Deaf child is even seen as a curse on the family and hidden away.

However, there are more Deaf people in Africa than you may realize. In Nigeria alone, the 1.8 million-strong Deaf population is larger than Phoenix, Arizona — the fifth largest city in the US.

The greatest tragedy for Africa’s Deaf is that none of them have a full Bible translation in their sign languages.

(Photo courtesy of Deaf Bible Society)

That is where Deaf Bible Society comes in. They partner with other organizations to support sign language Bible translation efforts in several African countries. The completed Scripture portions are then distributed on micro SD cards.

Deaf Bible Society also conducts Scripture engagement training to raise up local Deaf leaders in the Christian community. The training in Africa packs a lot into five days.

Jessica Oldfather, Scripture engagement specialist with Deaf Bible Society explains, “We introduce them [to] Deaf Bible Society and you go in-depth into the Scriptures. Then we train them and show them how…they can share the Scriptures. We have discussions and make sure that they have all the right information that they need to make an impact in their communities.”

Even after the Scripture engagement training is over, Deaf Bible Society continues communicating and building relationships with these young Deaf leaders, and empowers them to train their peers.

(Photo courtesy of Deaf Bible Society)

“Sometimes what we’ll do is we will train one person — our goal is to have 10 Deaf leaders — but then we train them and then that way they can, in turn, train their communities because they have that communication access.”

Oldfather says having Deaf believers reach their own community is the most effective way to do Deaf ministry in Africa. Deaf people have their own culture, their own language, and their own ways of connecting with Scripture.

“Sometimes it’s hard for Deaf people to work with hearing people. So that’s why we are big advocates for Deaf leaders to be involved in Scripture engagement and investing into their community…because they know the Deaf culture better.”

The combination of Scripture engagement training and access to God’s Word means more Deaf people in Africa are starting relationships with Jesus.

Deaf Bible Society enjoys seeing how passionate Deaf believers in Africa are about sharing their newfound faith with other Deaf friends and family.

(Photo courtesy of Deaf Bible Society)

Oldfather shares one Deaf man’s story: “He had a device and had an SD card. This person had gone to a Scripture engagement training years ago. [Other Deaf people] gathered around this one person and there were several of them on this tiny device watching the Scriptures.

“They were all just so encouraged and they were in tears because they were able to completely understand the Scriptures because it was in their heart language.”

Deaf Bible Society encourages both hearing and Deaf believers to support Deaf ministry in Africa!

First, ask God to raise up a strong presence of Deaf leaders in African Christian communities. Pray for the Deaf throughout Africa to connect with Scripture in their heart sign languages and begin relationships with Jesus.

You can also support Deaf Bible Society here and enable Scripture engagement training for Deaf Christians in Africa!

“Even in America, Deaf people don’t have full access. So, in Africa, for them to have the Scriptures in their heart language, it was just powerful.”

Finally, connect with Deaf Bible Society on Facebook and Instagram to follow how God is moving among the African Deaf.




Header photo courtesy of Deaf Bible Society.

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