THE POTENTIAL OF ACCESS TO THE GOSPEL IN SIGN LANGUAGE

Thirst For Language Access

In Jamaica, where Clifton was born and raised, it is common for  Deaf children to have a later start in education due to a lack of resources and transportation services. In addition, the poverty rate is high in the country. His education began at age ten at a Deaf school in Jamaica. Unfortunately, his education began with Clifton demonstrating anger and frustration due to language deprivation. 

It was because Clifton did not know how to communicate his feelings.  Thankfully, Clifton began learning Jamaican Sign Language and began expressing his feelings for the first time. He was then able to bond and develop a relationship with the teachers and his classmates, who used the same signed language. Clifton shared.

As Clifton got older, he searched for a job but had difficulty finding one. It wasn’t until someone reached out to him and offered a ministry opportunity with Youth With A Mission (YWAM). At first, he wasn’t sure if he should accept this or not. He continued to look into other job opportunities. However, God called him to work with Youth With A Mission, so he accepted, and then, YWAM sent him to Montego Bay, Jamaica.

YWAM’s first Discipleship Training School (DTS), which started in Washington DC, uses American Sign Language as the primary mode of communication. Now, the DTS is in Montego Bay, Jamaica. However, people from all over the world travel to engage with the DTS to learn how to share the Gospel with other Deaf people. For Clifton, it was hard at first because ASL is not his native language. However, he formed a powerful bond with his team. YWAM impacted him deeply. 

My Heart Language Gave Me Roots In His Words

“Honestly, it was hard at first. I didn’t understand ASL since I used JSL. However, it got easier over time as our communication merged. Each person came to DTS from their own country with a story, and I learned about who they are. It touched me deeply. It is time for me to surrender to the Lord fully.

There was a moment when I looked at a tree and watched its leaves fall to the ground. It made me think that the leaves represent our sins being removed from our lives. We cannot hold anger, frustration, or resentment. Like this tree that removed the decaying leaves from its branches, we must remove ourselves from the world. If we hold on to our decaying leaves, we cannot hold a relationship with Christ. Our tree must be rooted in Jesus Christ and stand firm. I am grateful that Youth With A Mission gave me the ability to grow spiritually while gaining more access to sign languages so that I can share the Gospel across Jamaica. I thank God for giving me this gift,” Clifton shared.

Have, Know, and Share God’s Word

Jamaican Sign Language opened his eyes and heart to the Gospel for Clifton. Did you know that there are more than 350 sign languages worldwide? And, it has been said that only two percent of the global Deaf population have received access to the Gospel in a format they understand.

Now, more than ever, we need more Sign Language Access to the Gospel, so more Deaf people can have, know and share in the advancement of the Good News of Jesus!   Here, at the Deaf Bible Society, we will continue to advocate for more the acceleration and accessibility of translations of the Bible in every sign language. Won’t you join us in prayer, join us in this global movement of having Deaf Communities have, know, and share God’s Word?