7 Ways to Pray During Deaf History Month

Join us as we pray for the translation of God’s Word into every sign language

National Deaf History Month—celebrated March 13 to April 15 every year—honors the contributions of Deaf individuals around the world while also raising awareness of their struggles.

This month, American Bible Society and our global partners highlight our work to serve Deaf communities through Bible translation.

The Largest Unreached People Group

Did you know that 70 million people in the world use sign language to communicate daily? And did you know that of the estimated 400 sign languages that exist in the world today, only 40 have some portion of Scripture, and only one has a full Bible in sign language?

In 2020, the Bible in American Sign Language (ASLV) was completed after 39 years of translation work! This historic Bible translation—produced by Deaf Missions with support from the Deaf Bible Society, DOOR International, Deaf Harbor, American Bible Society, Wycliffe Bible Translators, Seed Company, and Pioneer Bible Translators—gave 3.5 million ASL speakers access to the full Bible in their heart language.

But Deaf communities around the world are still waiting for the Bible in a language and format they understand. It is estimated that 98 percent of Deaf people have never been introduced to the gospel.

If Deaf people are going to experience God’s Word and embrace his love, they need the Bible in their heart language. They need God’s Word in sign language.

Translating Scripture into Every Sign Language

Sign languages are often misunderstood. Many people believe sign languages are a signed form of a spoken language, but in fact, sign languages are an entirely separate language with their own structure and grammar. Sign language is a visual language that uses a combination of hand, facial, and body movements.

Creating this visual language translation is a unique and intensive process. Trained sign language storytellers, usually Deaf people themselves, follow established translation principles that enable them to record the sign language translation in video format. This includes extensive production, editing, revising and reshooting, publishing, community testing, and more. Once complete, videos are made available at no cost online through the Deaf Bible platform, social media, and even a smartphone app.

Throughout the translation process and as Scripture portions become available in sign language, Bible agencies and ministries work to introduce Deaf people to the gospel. Through church planting and discipleship programs in Deaf communities, Deaf people are strengthened in their faith as they experience God’s Word in their heart language.

In Peru, Ecuador, and Thailand, where portions of Scripture have been translated into sign language, Deaf people are discovering God’s love through sign language videos.

“When I watch the Thai Sign Bible stories, I feel I am connected with God,” said one believer named Pang in Thailand.

Through your prayers and support, the Bible is more accessible than ever for Deaf communities. But we can’t stop praying now.

How You Can Pray

American Bible Society and our global partners are committed to translating God’s Word into every sign language. Your prayers can help us achieve this goal.

Here are seven requests you can pray for during Deaf History Month.

1. The Deaf Community. Pray that Deaf people will encounter Jesus as they engage with God’s Word in their heart language. Pray that their lives will be transformed and that communities of Deaf believers will grow in their faith together.

For God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him may not die but have eternal life. (John 3:16 GNT)

2. Translation Teams. Pray that God will guide Bible translators working on sign language translation projects. Ask God to grant them wisdom and skills to translate Scripture accurately and in a way that speaks to the heart of Deaf people.

The LORD says, “I will teach you the way you should go; I will instruct you and advise you.” (Psalm 32:8 GNT)

3. Sign Language Projects. Pray that God will oversee all parts of sign language translation projects, from the assembling of the translation team to the recording of videos to distribution and disciple-making within Deaf communities. Pray that obstacles to project completion will be removed and that the translation teams will experience the help of God’s Spirit.

Ask the LORD to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out. (Proverbs 16:3 GNT)

4. Workers. Pray that God will raise up workers, including Deaf leaders, who are passionate about teaching God’s Word to Deaf communities. Pray that they will be adequately equipped with resources and training to clearly communicate the gospel of Jesus.

[Jesus] said to his disciples, “A large crop is in the fields, but there are only a few workers. Ask the Lord in charge of the harvest to send out workers to bring it in.” (Matthew 9:37-38 CEV)

5. Partnering Bible Ministries. Pray that the unprecedented collaboration between Bible ministries will result in every Deaf person having access to God’s Word in their heart language. Pray that we will see a move of God’s Spirit among Deaf communities around the world through the work of these ministries.

Lord our God, may your blessings be with us. Give us success in all we do! (Psalm 90:17 GNT)

6. Churches. Pray that local churches will attend to the spiritual needs of the Deaf in their communities. Pray that they will use available sign language Scripture, and that Deaf people will feel a sense of belonging in the church.

“Look after yourselves and everyone the Holy Spirit has placed in your care. Be like shepherds to God’s church. It is the flock he bought with the blood of his own Son.” (Acts 20:28 CEV)

7. Technology. Pray that advances in technology will make it possible to bring Scripture and Bible stories to Deaf people. Ask God to breathe upon existing digital platforms where Deaf people can access God’s Word.

Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 28:19 GNT)

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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.

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

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