How to pray for teams working in Sign Language Bible Translation

Sign languages are entirely visual. They develop separately from the local spoken languages in the same region. There are more similarities between different sign languages in the world, than there are between spoken languages which are in the same language family. Many people who can hear assume it is easy for Deaf people to read and understand written materials. This is an inaccurate assumption, because their sign language is not related to the spoken language, and written script is directly dependent on the sounds of words. Deaf teams use imagery through signing and expressions in their language to interpret scripture. For this reason, passages in the Bible that tell a story–like the parables of Jesus–are often the easiest scriptures for teams to start translating.

Local Deaf ownership and leadership of the translation project is the utmost priority. Too often throughout the world hearing individuals will assume leadership and an abusive environment develops with the Deaf community. This is why local Deaf leadership is an expectation for the teams who are working to translate Scripture.

Many Deaf pastors spend most or all of their time interpreting what written scriptures say in the national or majority language. Once the scripture has been accurately translated pastors need to learn more about how to apply it to their lives and the lives of the people in their churches.

  • Pray for training for Deaf pastors, for ways to use the translated scriptures in their churches. Pray that the Holy Spirit would provide teams with inspiration and creativity for scripture engagement.
  • Pray for teams ready to start translation that still need additional project support personnel before they can begin.
  • Pray for wisdom for the teams and consultants as they seek to translate the scriptures accurately and efficiently.
  • Pray that the community checks will provide insight and direction and ways to increase progress in the translation.
  • Pray for Godly local Deaf leaders to continue to take leadership in the projects and mentor those involved.
  • Pray for good internet connections for teams working remotely.
  • Pray for funding and personnel to be available to Deaf communities hoping to begin on sign language Bible translation soon.
  • Pray for discernment for hearing people as they work with sign language translation teams, that they have appropriate sensitivity, good relationships and mutual respect with their Deaf colleagues.

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