by Katie Hearth with DOOR International
In Luke 15, the parable of the lost sheep teaches so many beautiful things about the depth of God’s love. The shepherd leaves behind the majority of his flock and livelihood to seek out one lost sheep.
God clearly treasures the lost one percent. With this parable in mind, let me tell you about the Deaf.
The Lost Sheep
Deaf people constitute approximately one percent of the global population. They are the “lost sheep,” because a vast majority of these 70 million souls does not know Christ.
Here are some primary causes:
- There are 350-400 sign languages worldwide, but not even one has a complete Bible. Only American Sign Language has a complete New Testament. Less than 6 percent of the world’s sign languages have any published Scripture. Why do the Deaf need a Bible in sign language rather than written language? A majority of the Deaf worldwide are functionally illiterate. The quickest way to reach them with the Gospel is not to teach them to read, but instead to translate Scripture into their heart language – sign language.
- Deaf-led churches are even rarer than sign language Scripture. Less than 2 percent of Deaf people worldwide know Christ. An even smaller percentage has any access to training in evangelism, discipleship, church planting, or leadership development. Without discipleship or training, how can Deaf believers fulfill the Great Commission?
According to Finishing the Task, one-tenth of the world’s remaining unreached and unengaged people groups (UUPGs) is Deaf. Thanks to Deaf ministries like DOOR International, this statistic is changing.
Seeking the One Percent
DOOR International exists to reach Deaf people for Christ. DOOR’s Deaf leadership team believes the best people to engage unreached Deaf people with the Gospel are Deaf believers.
Here’s how Deaf are reaching Deaf for Christ through DOOR:
- By translating God’s Word into sign language.
- By sharing the Gospel with local Deaf people.
- By training local Deaf evangelists and teachers to seek out those who do not know Jesus.
- By planting Deaf-led churches.
Deaf believers and unreached Deaf people share many commonalities: past experiences, language, culture, etc. (More about the importance of Deaf culture here.) These commonalities often result in an openness and curiosity that leads to Gospel conversations.
When unreached Deaf people see the Gospel in their heart language, brought to them on the hands of Deaf believers, they are forever changed. People like Amoah learn that the Body of Christ is not only for hearing people; it is for Deaf people, too. Read Amoah’s story here.
Jesus paid it all to save those made in His image, both Deaf and hearing. What will you risk to seek the one percent?
Katey Hearth is the Communications Coordinator for DOOR International, a global Deaf-led ministry. DOOR translates the Bible into sign language and trains Deaf church planters to reach the Deaf world for Christ.
Photo courtesy of DOOR International.