International (MNN) — The Forum of Bible Agencies International, or FOBAI, just ended its annual summit. “The Visual Context of the Bible” — a lecture presented entirely in sign language by a Deaf DOOR leader — left significant impressions on many.
FOBAI is a coalition of groups involved in Bible translation that pools resources and ideas. For only the second time in its 25-year history, a Deaf believer led one of FOBAI’s plenary sessions. Read about the first FOBAI encounter here.
“Several people in the audience said it was the best presentation out of the entire forum,” says DOOR International President Rob Myers.
“I was so encouraged to see Deaf leaders taking their place in the realm of Bible translation.”
Tesfaye Moges, one of DOOR’s Deaf consultants-in-training, led a session on the visual context of Scripture. He signed the following in a recent update sent to DOOR:
“I am thankful to God for this opportunity to explain…about the visual context of the Bible, and how that connects to Deaf translation work. As I made the presentation, I noticed that one of the interpreters was actually sobbing! She later told me how much the presentation affected her, and how she felt that now was God’s timing for the Deaf to get His Word.
“One person stood up during the end of the presentation and said how clear and eye-opening it had been. It had inspired and informed him at the same time. As we broke from the plenary session, many people – both Deaf and hearing – came up and told me how much my presentation had affected them.”
“I am so thankful for the training I am getting. It’s opening opportunities for me to serve God, to train and equip others, and to grow. At FOBAI, I also learned what is happening across the world for sign language Bible translation. It’s very exciting to see what God is doing. Please pray for this work.”
Moges’s presentation was inspirational in more ways than one. Neighbors in Ethiopia previously knew him as “the one not even God could save.”
From ruffian to DOOR leader
According to Myers, the DOOR leader who captivated people at this year’s FOBAI summit has a dark past.
“He was feared in the Ethiopian Deaf community, and he was known as someone you needed to stay away from,” shares Myers.
“He first got involved in Bible translation, not because he was interested in the translation itself, but because it gave him the opportunity to travel. And then, all of a sudden, he encountered the story of Jesus’ crucifixion.”
Moges had no idea what that crucifixion actually meant. However, his heart began to change as he and his teammates began translating the account into Ethiopian Sign Language. For the very first time, Moges received details in his heart language about the price Christ paid for humanity.
“In light of that amazing sacrifice, Tesfaye couldn’t do anything but surrender his life to his amazing Savior…and his life radically changed.”
“I’m encouraged just even knowing Tesfaye’s story because it reassures me that no one is too far for the Gospel…and the Gospel is for everyone,” says Myers.
“It’s for the Deaf, it’s for the hearing. It’s for people who are far off from God, or the people who think they are close to God.”
For 98 percent of the world’s 70 million Deaf people, Christ is not a prophet or a teacher. He is a complete stranger because they have not seen the Gospel in their heart sign language.