For about 300,000 Japanese people, there is still no Bible in their heart language. Deaf Japanese are spiritually isolated in addition to feeling culturally separated from hearing friends and family.
Japanese Sign Language (JSL) is very different from written and spoken Japanese. Yet, the Bible is currently only available in those formats. That makes Christianity feel inaccessible to many. For Deaf in the country, Scripture is simply in a language with which they struggle to connect.
Wycliffe Bible Translators is working to change that. Through partnerships with local Bible translators, they hope to bring a full video Bible to the Japanese Deaf.
The Translation Team
Andy Keener with Wycliffe USA provides some background on the team. “The Japanese sign language project has been going on since 1993. So, this has been a long time coming. The team has been rather small. Today it consists of nine people and they’ve completed 33% of the entire Bible. And this past year, they finished the book of Daniel and right now they’re working on the book of Ezra.”
Translation is always a painstaking process. It requires careful attention to detail. Translation into sign language is no different. In one instance, translators spent 20 minutes deciding how to sign the word for wings. In JSL there are many different ways to show wings. The team wants to choose the representation that is most accurate to the text.
The work is challenging, but it is crucial for many on the team.
Keener says, “These Deaf believers recognize that without the Word of God available in their own sign language – Japanese Sign Language – their Deaf friends, and sometimes relatives and just people that they know that are deaf really aren’t ever going to have a chance to understand the Gospel. And they know what the Gospel has done in their life, just like it has done in so many lives. And they want to pass that along. And having the Word of God available in their sign language is a critical way of doing that.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Anna Deckert
CALL TO ACTION
- Pray for clarity and agreement as the team translates complicated passages.
- Pray for well functioning electronics as the team records and edits the Bible translation.
- Support the project financially by Joining the Wycliffe USA team.