USA (MNN) — An oft-overlooked people group took the spotlight at the Passion 2019 conference earlier this month. Amber McNure with Deaf Bible Society says Deaf awareness grew as a young woman named Ira took the stage and signed her personal story.
“Passion’s heart is for young people… and you have Ira, who’s currently 23, but when she started her ministry work she was just 21,” explains McNure. “Passion heard her story, and her story is really what convinced Passion to partner with Deaf Bible Society in getting God’s Word to more Deaf individuals.
“[Ira is a] Deaf girl who doesn’t even have the Bible in her heart language who’s reaching out to other people and trying to share Christ with them.”
It was an exciting yet somewhat overwhelming experience for her, McNure shares. “She’s still blown away by all God’s done.
“Her constant comment is ‘Hey, this isn’t me. This is God just working in me [and] using me, this is all Him’.”
Along with inspiring U.S. young people, Passion 2019 opened the eyes of people connected to Ira. Friends messaged to apologize for never learning Filipino Sign Language, Ira’s heart language. FSL wasn’t even officially recognized as a language in the Philippines until a few months ago.
“Not only in America but also worldwide, Deaf needs are often pushed to the side. They’re often the last group to get recognition,” notes McNure.
However, watching thousands of young people “meet” Ira at Passion 2019 and learn her story was both humbling and exciting.
“To see them have this ‘awareness’ [and] for them to see this Deaf Filipino girl who had traveled from halfway around the globe… to be there and to share her story, I think it had an impact that goes just beyond that day; it goes beyond that event.”
Fighting Bible poverty among the Deaf
Passion 2019 conferences were held in four sold-out locations this year: Atlanta and Duluth, Georgia; Dallas, Texas; and Washington D.C. Deaf Bible Society was the missions focus, and ministry leaders were initially hoping to reach Deaf in ten countries with money raised by Passion participants.
However, “Passion went above and beyond; we’re very excited to be able to fund [work in] 16 countries.”
Some 40,000 event-goers raised nearly $450,000, which McNure explains will be used to help Deaf believers get access to sign language Scripture.
“Unlike here in America where we have WiFi pretty much at our fingertips, other countries are not that privileged. So, we work really hard to make sure that whatever mode of communication or technological device they use, they have access to God’s Word.”
Most of the 16 nations identified by Deaf Bible Society already have some published Scripture portions: Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Myanmar, South Africa, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, and Russia. Watch sign language Bible translations here.
However, no sign language in the world has a complete Bible. Deaf believers in three countries on the list – Egypt, Moldova, and the Philippines – need help starting or completing Bible translation work in their sign languages.
Header image is a screenshot of Deaf Bible Society’s Facebook past.