My name is Dorothy Sparks.
I remember when I was a young teenager. I went to church with my parents, who are also Deaf. I remember the Sunday sermons were difficult for me to understand. I used to think that maybe it was because I wasn’t smart enough. I wondered, why can’t I understand?! I decided just to accept that was who I was.
I also wanted to read the Bible, but much of it went over my head. So, I thought, I’ll get a picture Bible and that should help me. And, it did help me a lot to understand the text and develop better reading skills. But, the same thing would happen – I would go back to church, and again, I couldn’t understand the message. I wondered, “Why am I getting much of the Bible on my own study time, but in church, I’m having a difficult time?” Then I realized that the pastor was not using American Sign Language and that impacted me learning more about who God is. I looked around and figured I wasn’t the only one having a hard time, others must be, too.
I am so happy my spirit was restless that it moved me to do something and that I did it.
Fixed to The Rock
Jesus says in Matthew 7:24-25 that His words are “foundational words, words to build a life on. If you work His message into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who built his house on solid rock. Rain pours, rivers flood, tornados hit—but nothing moved that house. It was fixed to the rock.”
When Dorothy was young, she didn’t have access to Scripture in her language. She relied on a picture Bible to help her understand God’s message and work it into her life. Now, thanks to the great efforts of our partner, Deaf Missions, an estimated 3,000,000 Deaf Americans have access to Scripture content with the American Sign Language Version Bible (ASLV).
Sign language is a complete, natural language. It is visual, expressed by the movements on the hands and face, which is very different from the liner written English. Without the ASLV, many Deaf who use American Sign Language as their primary language would struggle without a way to know God fully and His plan for their lives.
People like Dorothy depend on ASL for communication. Because they have access to God’s Word in their primary language, they know that when the rain pours on their life, they can trust that they will not be moved.
For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be perfect and complete, needing nothing.James 1:3-4