Deaf Ministry Done Well (2)

Our office manager and I attended the 2016 Deaf Christian Leaders’ Conference in Nebraska then returned to a Deaf Revival in Indy. God is on the move among deaf folks worldwide.

The conference started with a word coined by Deaf Missions founder Duane King: “Probortunity.” It means changing your perspective on a problem to see the opportunity for God to do something greater through it. Ministry as we’ve done it in the 20th century is not effective…and it’s not because God or the Gospel have changed, it’s because cultures have changed. We need to Rethink how we reach out to people who don’t know Jesus…we need to Empower one another to bring the Gospel into their communities and spheres of influence…we need to Engage our culture and show them what lives dedicated to trusting and following Jesus and loving our neighbors look like. When we do that, we’ll better resemble the first century church where “the word of God spread, many believed and trusted God.” (Acts 6:1-7, ASLV presented by Chad Entinger, Deaf Missions)

Jesus’ Probortunity: The problem of being contaminated with our sin was the opportunity to rescue those who would believe.

Gary Barrett of Deaf  Ministries Worldwide reminded us that everyone has a story…a life’s journey through places of pain and sin. The good news is, Jesus redeems lives and He redeems stories. Every experience becomes training as we learn to empathetically share the grace and strength of God with our neighbors – once we’ve embraced it for ourselves. “Before I can empower others, I must experience God’s power in my life.” He also quoted Burk Parsons: “When you walk into church…you’re with family, not on stage.” We need to make this true in our ministries…reach out to broken people, allow them to see our scars, and point them to Jesus who was bruised and scarred for us all.

It starts with Acceptance, Interest, and Presence…because everyone has a story.

Jason Suhr and Joseph Josselyn demonstrated the Deaf Bible App, making scriptures translated by Deaf Missions (ASLV) and Chronological Bible Translations (CBT) produced by DOOR and Deaf Harbor available online to any smartphone, tablet, or computer. Jason reminded us that the Bible is the Authority, Model, and Touchstone (measuring stick) for our lives. People need personal access to Jesus and the scriptures for themselves. Yet translation isn’t easy. Does the word “blessing” mean “approval” or “abundant provision”? Context is key.

Mark Sorenson and Ed Gleason reminded us that the first language of all people is storytelling, with written literacy developed later, generally among fewer people. Growth of video technology and prevalence of smartphone use throws the doors of direct ministry wide open worldwide, and deaf ministries are working together to walk through them. Translators are researching the history, culture, theology, and linguistics of the scriptures, and making sure the output is Clear, Accurate, Natural, and Acceptable for each target language group.

These resources are effective because they are Relational, Foundational, Repeatable, and Transformational.

Pray, invest, and stay tuned. More next week!

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