USA (MNN) — Christ calls His followers to “go and make disciples” of all nations, tribes, and tongues. One of the world’s largest unreached people groups — the Deaf — is also the most overlooked and forgotten. But, reaching Deaf people for Christ isn’t an impossible task.
This week, DOOR International and several other Deaf ministries are taking action.
“In American Deaf churches today, many of the leaders are weak in training,” explains Mark Sorenson, a Deaf member of DOOR’s senior leadership team.
“Many Deaf leaders do not have…enough experience, really, to replicate their knowledge and to teach other Deaf people in a Deaf way: using sign language, accessing Deaf culture and Deaf values.”
At the Deaf Christian Leaders Conference in Omaha, Nebraska, over 200 Deaf leaders are gaining the skills and knowledge they need to reach more people for Christ.
“Topics vary from Deaf worship to Deaf technology…how to reach Deaf youth, how to become involved in the Deaf community, how to work collaboratively,” says Sorenson. “My role in speaking there is particularly to focus on Chronological Bible Translation (CBT).”
If you think reaching Deaf people isn’t a big deal, consider this: less than two percent of the Deaf worldwide know Jesus as Savior. Many Deaf struggle with reading God’s Word. So, how will the Deaf know the Good News? And, who’s going to tell them?
For Sorenson and DOOR International, the answer is clear. Deaf believers, equipped with God’s Word in sign language, are the most effective way to reach the Deaf world for Christ.
“Deaf people have many of the same experiences and values. We’ve understood what it’s like to live in a world where we’re cut off from language; we’re oppressed, we’re limited,” Sorenson says, speaking from personal experience.
“When we encounter somebody else who’s had that same experience, there’s an immediate relationship that’s built there. There are no language barriers, everything is more open… I’ve seen Deaf people from many, many different countries and cultures [come together] and we build relationships so quickly because we all have the same experience.”
Deaf Bible translation
Sorenson is the Program Coordinator for the Americas and Eurasia. Along with overseeing DOOR’s American Sign Language (ASL) translation, he’s helping Deaf believers set up two new offices in Eurasia.
At the conference, Sorenson will be highlighting four benefits of using Chronological Bible Translation (CBT) to communicate God’s Word in sign language:
- CBT is relational.
- CBT is foundational.
- CBT is repeatable.
- CBT is transformational.
“Once I convey [Bible] stories to a Deaf person, they can pass it on to other Deaf people, and it continues onward,” Sorenson explains. “That replicability produces a lot of fruit in the lives of Deaf people.
“We’ve seen a lot of [good] things result in Deaf people’s lives through [the] acquisition of these stories.”
The Deaf Christian Leaders Conference 2016 ends on Sunday. Will you come alongside your Deaf brothers and sisters in Christ through prayer?
“There are very, very few resources available for the Deaf nowadays, so please pray that those resources will continue to be developed in sign language,” Sorenson asks.
“Also, pray for church planting work, and particularly for DOOR’s 2-by-2 ministry, that it would continue to grow and expand.”