South Asia (MNN) — DOOR International and their ministry partners are working to get the Bible translated into all sign languages. Deaf communities are sometimes called the “final frontier” of the Great Commission because there is still not one full sign language Bible today.
But they aren’t the only ones trying to reach the Deaf. The Hare Krishna is now being translated into sign languages in South Asia as well, and it has several implications for the Deaf.
Hare Krishna is a religious branch of Hinduism. In the 16th century, Sri Chaitanya of Bengal founded the Hare Krishna religion. He taught the worship of Krishna, considered the supreme god who oversees other demigods. Worshippers often dance and chant Krishna’s names in the streets.
For Deaf people, it is incredibly difficult to find spiritual answers in their heart sign language. Buddhist and Hindu temples, Muslim mosques, Christian churches — many of them are not Deaf accessible.
So when something comes along in sign language claiming to have life’s spiritual answers, it’s understandable that Deaf men and women are drawn to it, even if it is a lie.
DOOR International’s president and CEO Rob Myers says, “It’s a little bit like if you have somebody who is starving for food. [If] the first thing that comes to them is this wonderful feast, then they’re going to enjoy that feast all the more and they’re going to be incredibly thankful for it. But if the first thing that comes to them is food that’s not that healthy, they may still eat it because it’s the only thing that they have available.”
DOOR International trains Deaf Christians to share the Gospel in their 2-by-2 Program. Through the 2-by-2 Program, teams are trained in pairs of two and sent to unreached Deaf communities. Each team builds relationships with local Deaf individuals, communicates the Gospel in a sign language, disciples new believers, and grows the local Deaf Church.
As the Hare Krishna and other religious texts are translated into sign language, DOOR is seeing an uptick in the oppression of Deaf believers in South Asia.
Access to other religious teachings is also creating a greater need for theological depth and apologetics among the Deaf Church.
Myers says, “That’s why it’s even more critical and even more important that they have access to God’s Word so they can check themselves and they can know, ‘Yes, this is what I believe and this is why I believe it.’”
As DOOR supports indigenous Deaf leaders in South Asia, Myers says there are several things they need help with from the global Body of Christ.
“For many of these leaders, they are the only spiritual leaders in their communities and there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. There’s also a lot of spiritual oppression that these leaders face,” he says.
“So we would ask, first of all, for people to please pray. Pray for these leaders, that they would make wise decisions, that God would continue to lead them, [and] that God would raise up more leaders in their communities to reach more Deaf people with the Gospel.
“We’d love for people to come alongside us and support us financially too. This work is critical and — particularly in Deaf communities — many of the workers are unable to find the support for themselves because unemployment rates are incredibly high for Deaf individuals. So many times we have to come alongside and supplement even more the support of leaders that we train so that they’re empowered to go out and share the Gospel and work in their own communities.”
Finally, Myers says, “We would ask people to…spread the word. Let other people know that there’s work happening in these communities and while they’re unreached right now, God is doing a great movement there.”
Header photo courtesy of jeh6 via Pixabay.