International (MNN) — Language barriers present a spiritual challenge for most of the world’s 70 million Deaf people. Deaf communicate and receive information in their native sign language, but no sign language has a complete Bible. Only a handful of the world’s 350+ sign languages have any Scripture at all.
Earlier this month at the Finishing The Task conference, 53 Deaf groups were listed as UUPGs (Unreached and Unengaged People Groups). “Each of those 53 groups was adopted by some other organization that was present,” shares Rob Myers, President/CEO of DOOR International.
“This is a really critical part of completing the Great Commission: seeing every tribe, every language reached with the Gospel, including every Deaf community.”
What does “adoption” mean?
“Adopting” a UUPG doesn’t necessarily require an individual or organization to be working on-the-ground. For example, knowledge of Deaf culture and sign language are severely lacking among most of the ministries that adopted Deaf UUPGs at Finishing The Task. However, those components are basic requirements for effective Deaf ministry.
By adopting Deaf UUPGs, ministries essentially said, “we’re responsible for trying to gather the ingredients that are necessary to see this people group get the Gospel within the next two years,” Myers explains.
The two-year timeframe fits perfectly within DOOR’s “50×25” vision: access to sign language Scripture and a church planting movement for 50-percent of the world’s Deaf by 2025.
50×25: an attainable goal?
DOOR’s Deaf church planting teams are starting work in East Asia, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and the U.S, while translation teams are putting God’s Word into four new sign languages. As explained in a recent newsletter, DOOR plans to give 13% – or 9.5 million Deaf – access to God’s Word in sign language and a church planting movement by the end of 2019.
Achieving this goal would be a significant feat. Yet, compared to the tens of millions of Deaf who would still lack access to the Good News, 13% seems like a mere drop in the bucket. Myers admits their “50×25” vision cannot be accomplished overnight.
“You can be within sight of the summit of Mount Everest but there are several steps you have to take in order to actually get there,” he describes as an example.
“In the same way, we have these Deaf groups within sight…but in order to reach them…we may need to establish base camps.”
Emphasizing DOOR’s need for prayer warriors, Myers says “we sometimes encounter a lot of resistance, but prayer breaks down those barriers.”