Deaf People in Guatemala Long for God’s Word

Pray for a sign language Bible for Guatemala’s deaf community

At the age of two, Esteban lost his hearing after contracting polio. He was the only one in his community with a hearing impairment. Communication was difficult. Esteban often felt isolated and lonely.

Desperate to connect with others, at 16, Esteban joined a gang. He did many horrible things as a gang member. But after seeing young gang members killed, Esteban decided to leave the gang and join the church.

When Esteban arrived at the church, he was welcomed by a deaf pastor. Soon he joined a group of 50 deaf people that met twice a week to learn God’s Word.

For the first time, Esteban was happy. He finally felt like he belonged! Having God’s Word in his own language—Lensegua Sign Language—helped Esteban turn his life around. He was connecting with others and with Jesus. Today, he is a pastor and part of the translation team working to translate the Bible for deaf people in Guatemala.

Translating the Bible into Sign Language

In Guatemala, there are approximately 120,000 people with some type of hearing impairment. Most do not have access to education. They’ve never learned to read the traditional Spanish language, so they cannot read the Bible. They need a Bible in the language they speak.

Bible Society of Guatemala is working to translate the Bible into Guatemala’s sign language. A sign language Bible is God’s Word translated from either written or spoken form into the unique sign language used by a specific deaf community. Once translated into sign language, actors record it in video format for deaf people to watch.

In 2018, translation and video recordings were completed for the story of Jesus's birth, as written in the gospel according to Matthew. So far, 180 video recordings have been distributed to children and adults. Biblical training groups were also formed to teach Scriptures to deaf communities.

God’s Word is transforming lives among the deaf people in Guatemala. Esteban tells us:

“We have waited for many years for this translation. There is so much need—the deaf do not know anything about Jesus. Thank you very much for helping us and making this a reality to our community.”

Pray for:

  • Strength and stamina. Pray for all those involved in translating the Bible—from pastors like Esteban, to members of Bible Society of Guatemala. The process is long and arduous, requiring the power of the Holy Spirit.
  • Wisdom. Pray for upcoming meetings with deaf communities to decide which portions of Scripture to translate next.
  • Discipleship. Pray for more opportunities to form groups among hearing-impaired people in order to share God’s love through Scripture. 

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Nena Podbury
Nena Podbury

Nena Podbury is a Prayer Mobilization Associate at American Bible Society. Originally from the Bronx, she served in children’s ministry for 12 years doing Sidewalk Sunday School. Nena is married with two children, Noah and Emilia.

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