Isolated From the Good News
Approximately 70 million people worldwide use a sign language as their primary language.* Just one in 50 have been introduced to the gospel. Many live in places that are mostly or completely untouched by the gospel, and because they are often separated from the larger Hearing society around them, they have even fewer opportunities to learn of the good news.
Simply bringing the gospel to these places isn’t enough. Even if a Deaf person lives in a community with many churches, a significant number of Christians and access to printed Scripture, he or she is unlikely to be reached with the gospel. Deaf communities have distinct languages, cultures and worldviews. Therefore, to effectively reach them we need to send followers of Christ who can be accepted in Deaf society, respect their unique gifts and challenges and communicate the good news in their sign languages.
Christar is driven by a passion to establish churches among the least-reached, those who do not have access to a church in their own language, culture or in proximity to where they live. We trust the Lord to work through us as we send teams to cultivate Christ-honoring transformation in Deaf communities throughout the world where He is not yet known or worshiped.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do we need concentrated efforts to reach the Deaf?
Among the approximately 70 million* people worldwide who use a sign language as their first or primary language, no more than two percent have been introduced to the gospel. The other 98 percent are least-reached: They don’t have access to a church that preaches the gospel in their language and worships in a way that’s relevant in their culture. Unless followers of Christ bring the good news to them with an approach and in a language they can understand, they won’t have the opportunity to know and worship our Savior.
We desire to plant churches among the Deaf who are living amid populations of Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists for the same reason we serve among Hearing peoples: God has promised there will be people from every nation, tribe, people and language (including sign languages) worshiping around the throne of God. We align ourselves with the promise that salvation in Christ is not just for the Hearing, but for the Deaf as well.
Although we sense the urgency of bringing the gospel to all least-reached people, the present is a particularly opportune time to reach the Deaf. In years past, it wasn’t possible to share the gospel with the Deaf in their heart language without having a face-to-face conversation. Now, technology has made it possible to communicate the gospel to the Deaf across distances, through means such as video and online networking.
In addition, God is giving many Deaf believers in developed countries a burden to reach other Deaf, both in their communities and around the world. And, in the past few years God has increased awareness of the Deaf among Hearing believers and burdened them to see the Deaf also know and worship Jesus. We look forward to partnering with many of these followers of Christ as God works through them and us to plant churches among the Deaf.
Why can’t the Deaf read about the gospel?
Some Deaf people are able to read written forms of spoken languages, but most struggle to fully understand written materials. Overall, literacy levels among Deaf people tend to be much lower than those among the wider Hearing population. This is due in part to inadequate education for the Deaf in many countries, but also because written content is based on a spoken language, which is linguistically distinct from the local sign language. Also, reading a spoken language is inherently more difficult for someone who has never heard the sounds that the letters represent—almost like memorizing a phone number for each word or concept. Even when Deaf people can read the written form of the spoken language, it is still a “foreign,” or “second” language to them—not the language of their heart!
How can the gospel be communicated to the Deaf?
It’s estimated that only five percent of the estimated 400 sign languages worldwide have any Scripture portions available. So, especially among the Deaf, it is imperative that believers build relationships and personally share the good news in culturally relevant ways. With newer channels of communication like video and online networking, opportunities to communicate the gospel are opening as never before.
How will Christar reach out to Deaf communities?
We’re excited that God has already begun to bring workers to Christar to serve among the Deaf! We’re seeking more believers with the passion, call, language skills and Deaf culture experience to join teams already working among least-reached Hearing peoples and begin reaching out to Deaf communities within the same regions. To do that we need to develop a dedicated mobilizing team to identify candidates. Over the next few years we pray God will call many new workers so we can begin doing among the Deaf what we have been doing for over 100 years in other communities: cultivating Christ-honoring transformation where He is not yet worshiped!
Will Christar partner with other organizations to plant churches among the Deaf?
We praise God that numerous organizations are reaching the Deaf with the gospel, and look forward to cooperating with them to plant churches in Deaf communities. We’re thankful for the strong movement to translate the Bible into sign languages, as well as for efforts to send workers to serve among the Deaf. Christar has begun to explore opportunities to partner with like-minded organizations so that Jesus is known and worshiped in Deaf communities.
*Statistics from Deaf Bible Society
How can I get involved?
- Ask God to raise up workers with a passion to reach the Deaf and the ability to enter least-reached communities.
- Pray that believers in Deaf churches will have a burden for Deaf communities around the world.
- Ask God to enable Christar to eﬀectively collaborate with other organizations that work with the Deaf.
- Pray for open doors for ministry in Deaf communities.
- Pray for wisdom as Christar seeks to eﬀectively bring the gospel to not-yet-reached Deaf communities.
- Ask God to provide the funds needed to launch this critical new outreach.
- Learn about myths that often prevent believers from reaching out to the Deaf.
- Get tips for reflecting Jesus to a Deaf neighbor.
Email us at [email protected] to start the conversation about how God could use you for His glory in a Deaf community.
Your gift to the Deaf Initiative will help us identify and train new workers to serve among the Deaf and help us launch this new outreach to these hidden least-reached people.