International (MNN) — When you think of people unreached with the Gospel, you might imagine a tribal community in a third-world country removed from modern civilization. But surprisingly, one of the largest unreached people groups may exist in your own backyard.
Out of the 70 million Deaf people worldwide, less than an estimated two percent of them have been reached with the Gospel.
“We’ve heard the story of David and Goliath, or we kind of know of Adam and Eve, we know Jesus,” says JR Bucklew, President of Deaf Bible Society, an organization dedicated to bringing the Gospel to Deaf communities. “Unlike some of us who may have grown up in the Bible Belt, or from Christian background communities…a lot of Deaf people have never even been told these stories, because here in the U.S., most Deaf children have hearing parents, and the majority of those parents never learn to sign.”
But that doesn’t mean they’re forgotten. June 11th was the World Deaf Day of Prayer, an initiative started by Deaf community thought-leader John R. Graham to raise awareness for the spiritual needs of this community and call people to pray.
“Pastor John, in a meeting of several North American Deaf ministries, said, ‘We really need to motivate not just people to be praying for the Deaf, but we need to motivate Deaf pastors, Deaf churches. At least one day a year, we’ve committed that day to pray for the Deaf world, to pray for the Gospel to go out among them.'”
Bucklew says, “Several of us took that on, and so for the last couple of years…we’ve called together Deaf leaders, Deaf pastors, Deaf missionaries, to pray. We hope that hearing churches and hearing believers will join us to pray for those who are still without the Gospel.”
Deaf Bible Society has a variety of resources, including a smartphone app with portions of Scripture translated into 20-plus sign languages. The goal is to make sure no Deaf person lacks the opportunity to experience God’s Word.
“We believe the Gospel is for every person, and that includes the Deaf and that they too have the right to access a Bible in their sign language so they can have personal community with God and personal community with His people,” Bucklew says.
Interested in how you can help Deaf individuals find hope in the Gospel? Click here to learn more about Deaf Bible Society’s resources, and here for ways to support their work financially. Also, remember to pray.
“As the Scripture says, the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few,” Bucklew shares. “One thing we often forget about a harvest is that it is seasonal, it comes in and out. We’re at that time where we’re looking out at the field, and we have that plentiful harvest that’s ready to be collected. We just need workers to go out and do it. The community is so hungry. So be praying for the workers, be praying for the resources to fuel that work.”