"Due to concerns about the upcoming re-election in Kenya, we have decided to cancel the celebration."
DOOR-Africa’s director made this announcement to us a few weeks ago. A huge celebration had been planned. Deaf and hearing leaders from many partner organizations in many different countries were planning to attend.
I was already in Kenya for meetings, and had been looking forward to the celebration. DOOR’s Deaf teams had worked hard to translate significant portions of Scripture into the sign languages of four different countries: Kenya, Mozambique, South Sudan, and Nigeria.
Months of preparation and planning had gone into organizing this Scripture celebration. Deaf translators from those countries were planning to lead the event, and it would have taken most of a whole Saturday. Plans included feasting upon a “fatted goat” and celebrating the provision of God’s Word for the first time to over a million Deaf Africans. That all changed when the celebration was canceled.
I sat down to dinner that night with two Deaf translators from South Sudan. They had invested blood, sweat, and tears to complete these Scripture portions, and I thought they might be disappointed about the cancellation. I put my plate on the table and signed, “Well…so the celebration was canceled…” I wanted to give them a chance to talk about it if they wanted to.
One responded for the both of them with this:
Well, yes, but that’s really not a big deal at all. That’s just one day. We have portions of the Bible in our sign language! Do you understand the significance of that??? We had nothing! Not one word of the Bible.
Imagine: an entire country of Deaf people with absolutely no access to God’s Word. We could pick up a printed Bible and look at it, but it had no meaning to us. We can’t read that. Some of us have Christian parents, but they can’t sign, so they couldn’t possibly explain anything about God to us. We didn’t know anything about God or His Word. At all. Nothing. We had no access at all, until now!
Our team has worked so hard to complete these 32 stories, and it is so very worth it! I honestly cannot wait to get these stories into the hands of Deaf Bible Society, who will make it accessible to Deaf people all over South Sudan. Deaf people will be able to just sit, and watch, and soak it all in. There is so much joy in knowing God’s Word. I mean, this series is called “Know God How?” right? This is how Deaf people come to know God! I can just see it now…the numbers of Deaf people who know Him in South Sudan growing, and growing, and growing. Imagine! And then we get to come back here and work on the next series of biblical stories. It’s like being offered a feast! Forty-five more stories! My mouth is already watering…I can just almost taste it! I can’t wait to dig in!
So honestly, in light of all of that, who cares if we don’t get to have a little one-day celebration at DOOR? We have God’s Word in our heart language!
There is so much to celebrate, and the lack of an official event doesn’t change that a bit. So, wherever you are right now—in your office, in your living room, or in line at the grocery store—just take a minute to celebrate that with us! Praise God that Deaf people in South Sudan, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Kenya, will have more of God’s Word in their heart language!