Interviewer: We are excited to talk with Jose Abenchuchan, formerly with Deaf Missions. Jose, who is Deaf, has many years of sign lanuage Bible translation experience.
Jose, can you tell us how you got involved with sign language Bible translation?
Jose: When I started working in Bible translations it was about 1996, 1997, I remember someone contacting me asking me if I wanted to be involved in the translation of the Bible from the written words to American sign language. I thought, “now that’s interesting!” I remember in the beginning I was apprehensive because I thought we already have many good translations of the written Word, and some are not that difficult to read. They were persistent and finally I agreed. When I saw the impact that a Bible in sign language had, I knew that it was all worth it!
I’d been working in translation since 1996 or 1997, and I soon realized that we had been translating for more than 20 years. The further we went through translating Scripture, the more I enjoyed it. God’s Words give life. His Words give hope and meaning to the Deaf.
Interviewer: Where are you currently with your work?
Jose: Very recently, I decided to retire and step back from my translation duties. At that same time, another opportunity arose for international work, which I quickly said, “yes.” I felt that American Deaf people have plenty of ministries to the Deaf, but outside of the United States where resources are lacking, “The harvest really is plentiful, but the workers are few.” My heart is open to this new season of international work with Pioneers Bible Translators.
Interviewer: Tell us about a meaningful experience that you have had while translating the Bible into sign language.
Jose: One of my fond memories looking back on the task of translating the Scriptures is how I was working with someone who initially wasn’t a strong believer. Yet through the work, this person’s life was greatly transformed by the Word of God. As this man translated the Scriptures, the words became real to him, and he later became a pastor! Now, he shares the passion that he found in the sign language Gospel message, and is impacting the lives of the Deaf community. This is an example of the transforming power of God!
Interviewer: What is a common question that people ask you?
Jose: One question I am asked, “Is sign language translation important?” Yes! With God’s Word in a language that speaks to our heart, we can finally see and understand God’s deep love for the world. We cannot experience the printed Scriptures that say God gave his only Son. The words on the page do not convey the full meaning of the message. When the words are translated into our beautiful language, His story of redemption for all of us is told clearly. As we grow, the fruits of the spirit become something that we desire and want more of. God’s Word in every sign language is so powerful! It has the same power that translations in various spoken languages have all over the world. When Deaf people have the Bible in a language of the heart it transforms them!