“I want to see more Deaf people become leaders in churches,” a Deaf Bible Society field coordinator exclaimed. But there’s much work to be done to make that desire a reality.
Today, there are no Deaf churches in El Salvador. Nearly 26,000 Deaf people use Salvadoran Sign Language, yet only a few of them are Christians.
Hidden in Poverty and Shame
Many Deaf people in El Salvador live in poverty and lack access to education. In fact, 95 percent of them are illiterate. And, as a minority language group, their access to information is nearly non-existent.
The country’s low expectations for Deaf people have diminished their way of life.
For example, some hearing parents are ashamed of their Deaf children. They have been known to hide their Deaf children in their homes away from the public.
Also, very few Deaf people hold stable jobs in El Salvador. If a Deaf person does have a job, they earn a mere minimum wage. Many will beg for money on the street. Some will survive by selling candies and groceries.
Thankfully, a Bible translation team in El Salvador known as TBLESSA is working diligently to bring access to God’s Word. Because they know that revealing God’s truth will set Deaf people free from the cultural forces that hide their God-given dignity.
Loved, Valued, and Capable
Several organizations have joined together to support the TBLESSA translation team: Miramonte Baptist Church, Deaf Bible Society, Global Sign Language Team, and Bible Translation Association of El Salvador (TRES).
These organizations encourage Deaf people to embrace ownership of God’s Word in their sign language. They are committed to revealing that Deaf people are loved, valued, and capable of much, especially of growing near to God.
The TBLESSA translation team in El Salvador has filmed 30 Bible stories from the Gospel of John. These video stories represent the first access to Scripture in Salvadoran sign language.
“I realized how wonderful the Bible is,” exclaimed Celicia, a translation team member, about her work to capture the stories. “The story of the crucifixion impacted me the most.”
The translation work made her value many spiritual things God had provided her. She even shared the Bible stories with her mother to help the two of them grow together spiritually. Cecilia and her mother are experiencing transformation through just a few stories from God’s Word. So imagine how all Deaf Salvadorans’ lives can be transformed through these stories — and more to come.