International (MNN) — An estimated 98-percent of the world’s 70 million Deaf people don’t know Christ. Reaching them is a monumental task, and Deaf Bible Society is making progress.
Through an interpreter, Chief Programs Officer and interim co-CEO Adan Burke says they’re celebrating several “milestones” from 2019 as leaders plan for 2020. “Right now, we have 30 languages that are accessible. Our goal is to hit 40 or 50 by the next calendar year,” he says.
Celebrating 2019 gains…
There are more than 400 sign languages and none of them have a complete Bible. Deaf Bible Society’s progress may seem small compared to the overall need. However, Burke says each completed translation is a victory for the Deaf community.
“We were able to achieve [in 2019] five new languages… [for] four of the five languages, it was their first Scripture translation,” Burke says.
“To us, that is a huge success. That is something that’s not easy to do in regards to introducing first Scriptures.”
Deaf Bible Society also made significant accessibility progress, Burke adds. First, the team added more sign language Bible translations to the Deaf Bible “library.” See a full list here. Secondly, Deaf people can now access new translations soon after they’re completed thanks to technological upgrades.
“Before, we weren’t able to upload Scripture… to the app,” Burke explains. “Now, the website and the app are actually coinciding in one… [we were] able to actually release both the Philippines and Romanian [translations] within months after… being completed.”
Last but not least, Deaf Bible Society launched a new program in 2019 to support its partnering Deaf translation teams. “The Josiah School of Translation [is] a pilot program and we launched that in August. It’s for our translation teams to actually gain experience,” Burke says.
“We see so many translation teams that will [only] have two- to four weeks’ worth of training in three years… [we] are trying to change that from four weeks to… six months’ worth of training in three years.”
… and planning for 2020
In the year ahead, Burke and his fellow leaders hope to develop a “more fine-tuned vision” of success. Deaf Bible Society is also well on its way to achieving Burke’s goal of 10 to 15 new sign language Bible translations in 2020.
“We are actively supporting 23 [sign] language [Bible translations], including the five new languages, and… we are on track to get three or four languages within the next few months,” Burke says.
Support sign language Bible translation through Deaf Bible Society here. Most importantly, pray. We’ve listed prompts alongside this article to get you started.
Header image is a stock photo obtained via Unsplash.