A FOBAI first: reaching the Deaf for Christ

By April 19, 2016
FOBAI_annual meeting
An African child signs "I Love You" in gratitude for the Gospel DVD he received from DOOR. (Photo cred: DOOR)

An African child signs “I Love You” in gratitude for the Gospel DVD he received from DOOR.
(Photo cred: DOOR)

International (MNN) — The Deaf are meeting “the God beyond the page,” thanks to groups like DOOR International.

DOOR translates Scripture into sign language, and equips Deaf believers with the resources they need to fulfill the Great Commission.

“Out of the 70 million Deaf people worldwide, it’s estimated that less than two-percent of them know Christ and are following Him,” shares Dr. Rob Myers, President of DOOR International.

Myers just returned from an annual conference organized by the Forum of Bible Agencies International, or FOBAI. FOBAI is a coalition of groups involved in Bible translation that pool resources and ideas.

“For the very first time in history, not only were the needs of sign language communities mentioned, but they actually served as the common theme this year.

“It was called, ‘The Macedonian Call: Engaging Hearing Communities with Deaf Groups.'”

The theme is a reference to Acts 16:6 – 10. This passage recounts Paul’s momentary pause in Troas, when he was seeking God’s direction and had a vision of a man from Macedonia. The man asked Paul to come to Macedonia because they needed his assistance.

Deaf children in Nigeria watch the Ghanaian sign language Bible.  (Image, caption courtesy DOOR)

Deaf children in Nigeria watch the Ghanaian sign language Bible.
(Image, caption courtesy DOOR)

“In the same way, Deaf communities around the world are ready,” says Myers.

“They’re hungering for the Gospel; they’re ready for translation work to happen, they’re ready for their leaders to be trained and empowered, and equipped, to go out and serve. What they need is the Church’s help.

“All of us have a part that we can play in coming alongside them and heeding that Macedonian call.”

Heeding the call at FOBAI

Not only were the needs of Deaf communities recognized at FOBAI’s annual conference – Deaf believers led the event.

“In total, we had about 15 sign language translation organizations represented there,” says Myers. “It truly was a historic event. It’s amazing how God has raised up different organizations to bring different gifts, different talents.”

Below, Myers shares some of the highlights from the 2016 FOBAI conference:

FOBAI_annual meeting

International panel exploring the challenges and opportunities of Deaf Bible translation and Scripture engagement at the FOBAI Annual Meeting.
(Photo, caption courtesy FOBAI via Facebook)

“We want the world to understand that we are a language, a linguistic minority, not a disability group.” — A Consultant In Training (CIT) from Colombia

“We don’t want you to do this task for us. What we need is your support, your encouragement, and your prayers, to be able to do ourselves what God has called us to do, and what He’s equipped us to do.” –Paul Ngasa, DOOR Africa Director

“Deaf people have been told for years that they’re broken hearing people. But, as they live through their journey of Deafhood, they come to a new understanding of themselves, their community, and their identity. And, that understanding opens up their hearts to hear the Gospel.” –Lance Forshay, FOBAI keynote speaker and University of Washington professor

Learn how DOOR is answering the call. Then, take action.

1) Pray

“This is a spiritual battle,” notes Myers. “The Enemy doesn’t want to see Deaf people get access to the Gospel because that’s Truth, and it sets them free.

“Pray that strongholds would be broken. Pray that God would raise up leaders in the field, and raise up Deaf leaders among Deaf groups.”

2) Advocate

(Photo courtesy DOOR International)

(Photo courtesy DOOR International)

“As you learn about the needs of Deaf people…you now have an opportunity to let other people know, ‘Wow. Deaf people are one of the largest unreached people groups in the world,'” Myers says.

“Partnering with organizations like ours financially [is helpful]; coming alongside some of the projects that we have implemented, both in the United States and worldwide.”

Our free resource kit from Deaf Bible Society will help you become an advocate for the Deaf.

3) Connect

“We partner with churches…to help them understand the needs of the Deaf, to try to introduce them to their local Deaf communities, and to try to empower Deaf people through those networks.

“As you can introduce us to more people, we can then pair those with local Deaf communities to help meet their needs.”

Contact DOOR International to learn more.


  • Pat says:

    This is amazing — the largest Unreached People Group in the world!
    Lord, we praise You and give You great thanks for this breakthrough in Scripture translation — the Deaf Community taking responsibility for translating Scripture into its own language while humbly accepting help and encouragement from the Hearing. May You lead many of the latter to intercessory, financial, and moral support. In Jesus’ Name. Amen

  • I am interested in learning more about becoming connected with the deaf community. I do not know ASL fluently but would like to learn and teach others at my church. I work full-time during the day. I do plan on this being a big part of my life and service to our Lord. I look forward to hearing from you. In His service, Lee Roslyn Spencer

  • Katey Hearth says:

    Hi Lee,

    It’s wonderful to hear about your passion for the Deaf! Please reach out to me at [email protected], and I can help you connect with some of the resources we have and people we know who are involved in ASL translation/training.

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