I want to take this opportunity to share eight reasons why Deaf ministry is so important.
- Most Deaf don’t have access to a Bible or even portions of Scripture because their language is visual and not based on written words around the world. Currently, around the world, there is no complete Bible in any signed translation.
- The ASLV (American Sign Language Version) started in the fall of 1970 and is set to be completed. The ASLV will be the only completed sign language translation of the Bible around the world. All other sign languages still do not have a Bible.
- Nine out of ten Deaf children are born to hearing parents, and only about 10% of those parents ever learn enough sign language to hold a conversation with their children.
- Language deprivation has led many Deaf people to not have any form of communication at home or school. Most people focus more on pathology and speech instead of focusing on language acquisition.
- There is a lack of Deaf Christian leadership, and a great need for more Deaf led churches. Hearing people have access to so many resources helping their spiritual growth, where Deaf people do not have the same privilege. Many Deaf people prefer to worship in a place where American Sign Language is the church’s primary language. But Deaf churches (or separate Deaf worship services and small group opportunities) are rare, and those that do exist are almost always found in larger communities — often towns with a residential Deaf school nearby. The most effective model for evangelism and discipleship for Deaf people is unavailable to the vast majority of Deaf people in North America – especially Deaf kids.
- With the Deaf being a widely dispersed, unreached people group, traditional mission approaches do not work best. As is the case with any other unreached people group, the Deaf are uniquely gifted to evangelize and disciple their own people. One of the best approaches is the development of movements like “Deaf disciples leading Deaf disciples.” Hearing people can be catalysts and supporters in making this happen, as we need both Deaf and hearing people working together to reach Deaf people.
- Though some churches offer skilled sign language interpreters, their service to the church rarely extends beyond interpreting the weekly church service. This limits and prevents Deaf people from accessing, and growing through Bible study, involvement in various church community life events such as retreats and volunteer opportunities, like visiting the sick, and feeding the homeless.
- Unfortunately, many churches do not understand Deaf people and their culture. Most Deaf people communicate through sign langauge, but sign language is not based on written or spoken English, contrary to popular belief. Sign language is a true visual language based on a naturally evolved system of articulated signs, body movements, and facial expressions. While reading a sermon or sermon notes would technically provide access to it, many Deaf prefer sign language over written forms of communication to best understand the content.
Now, I have given you eight great reasons why Deaf ministry is so important.