International (MNN) — In 1958, the World Federation of the Deaf began devoting a seven-day span to increasing Deaf advocacy and awareness worldwide. As the International Week of the Deaf begins, DOOR International asks you to help meet Deaf spiritual needs.
“It’s our desire to get resources into (Deaf) people’s hands, and then help them to get it into the hands and hearts of others,” explains DOOR President and CEO, Rob Myers.
International Week of the Deaf 2017
Every year in September, the International Week of the Deaf calls attention to the rights of 70 million Deaf people worldwide. Advocacy efforts include celebrating Deaf identity, raising awareness of Deaf culture among the hearing population, and providing a united Deaf perspective on core topics.
“Full Inclusion with Sign Language,” the 2017 theme of IWD, underscores the importance of sign languages. As explained here, it emphasizes, “full inclusion of deaf people is possible when sign language is recognized and used widely within the society.”
“Beyond the direct disability aspects that people often think of, deafness leads to a person being involved in a new language,” explains Myers.
“If you don’t have language, you don’t have information.”
This is largely why many Deaf people worldwide have no access to the Gospel. Less than ten percent of the world’s 350+ sign languages have any published Bible translation work.
Even if Scripture has been translated into a sign language, it doesn’t necessarily mean those Deaf believers have a way to fellowship and grow in Christ. Church planting and biblical leadership development are even rarer than translation efforts.
DOOR International: Deaf reaching Deaf for Christ
Roughly 68 million Deaf people – a whopping 98 percent of the total population — do not know Christ. Reaching them is the heartbeat of DOOR International.
“We focus on sign language Bible translation,” says Myers. “We also focus on training up local Deaf leaders to reach their own people for Christ through evangelism and church planting, and we call that program 2-by-2.”
As explained here, most Deaf people need to see God’s Word in sign language instead of reading it on a page. Sign language Scripture introduced Jay to Christ.
“For the first time, he really understood the essence of the Gospel because it was coming to him in his heart language,” shares Myers.
Prior to that, Jay was stuck in a world of vague monotony. Jay’s father was the pastor of a local church, so weekly Bible studies and Sunday services were the norm. However, it was a routine without meaning for Jay. No one around him – not even his own parents – knew sign language.
“He would sit and watch his father preach, watch people singing, but he had no idea what was going on…all that he could do while he was in church [was] sit and draw.”
Everything changed when a DOOR missionary invited Jay to a Deaf-led church.
“He saw the same type of service, but everything was in sign language. People were worshipping the Lord in sign language, they were sharing Bible stories in sign language; communication was giving people full access to all of the information.”
On the International Week of the Deaf, you can help unreached Deaf like Jay gain access to the Gospel. Click here to take action!