Stories from the Field

The Wait Will Soon Be Over: Bringing the Gospel to the Deaf in Albania

The 15,000 Deaf in Albania are still waiting for the gospel. Although great strides have been made in reaching the people of this country with the message of Christ since the fall of Communism in 1989, no one has yet brought the good news to the nation’s Deaf.

But in 2019, for the first time, workers will be sent to these least-reached people! Several years ago, God used Trent and Angie* to help establish a church of Deaf believers in Eastern Europe, and now, as Christar workers, they’ll soon begin a new church-planting effort among the Albanian Deaf.

The Deaf in Albania are just a fraction of the 70 million people around the globe who use a sign language as their primary language—a massive group among whom very few know Jesus. Just two percent of the Deaf worldwide have been introduced with the gospel.[1] Many live in places that are mostly or completely untouched by the good news, but even those in areas with many churches and believers have few opportunities to learn of the message of Christ.

Each Deaf community has its own distinct language, culture and worldview, and many are isolated from the larger community around them. In some places, Deafness is considered a source of shame, causing the Deaf to be even more shut off from the Hearing. For example, Trent explains that in Albania, many Deaf are hidden away by relatives. A 2015 survey found that the vast majority of the Deaf in the country are unable to understand the hearing, and 87 percent said they’re not understood by Hearing people.[2] Thus, it’s difficult for followers of Christ from the Hearing community to share the gospel with the Deaf in relevant ways.

Conveying the good news through written materials also presents a challenge. Although some Deaf are able to read, for most, it’s a struggle as they can’t “sound out” unfamiliar words. Even for those who are highly literate, written language remains a second language, not the language of their hearts. As Trent explains, “Deaf people think in pictures—not words. So, the gospel has to be presented in this way.”

But, the vast majority of the Deaf don’t have access to any of the Bible in their first language. It’s estimated that only five percent of the approximately 400 sign languages worldwide have any Scripture portions available.[3] Unless followers of Christ bring the good news to the Deaf with an approach and in a language they can understand, they won’t have the opportunity to know and worship Christ.

But, by God’s grace, the Deaf in Albania will have this opportunity. Through roles in education at a community center for the Deaf, Trent and Angie will meet needs within the Deaf community while building relationships through which they can share the gospel.

Trent and Angie’s ministry is the first step in Christar’s larger strategy to reach the Deaf in Albania and beyond. The couple looks forward to welcoming teammates who will join them in ministry and eventually to helping the local church learn how to reach these least-reached people, catch a vision for sharing the gospel among the Deaf and take ownership of this ministry.

Join us in praying that many Deaf will embrace the gospel as a result of Trent and Angie’s ministry and that their efforts will be the first of many to invite the Deaf to join God’s family.


How can I get involved?

Pray:

  • Praise God that workers will soon be serving among the Deaf in Albania.
  • Ask God to open the hearts of many in the Deaf community as they interact with workers and learn of the good news.
  • Pray for wisdom as Christar seeks to effectively bring the gospel to Deaf communities around the world.

Learn:

Give:

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.

 

[1] https://www.deafbiblesociety.com/

[2]https://www.kuurojenliitto.fi/sites/default/files/Liittokokous%202015%20lauantai/perussivun_liitetiedostot/deaf_people_in_albania_2015_2.pdf

[3] https://www.deafbiblesociety.com/