First Semester LEAD ASL Student, James Groff wrote the following within his mid-semester review of The LEAD Program. “This is huge because no one else is having Deaf teach other Deaf with Bible College materials in ASL [American Sign Language] and English. This is groundbreaking.” James, we appreciate the encouragement.
In this short article I would like to unpack what James is saying in his review and why we are so encouraged by his remarks. In an article I wrote a few years ago, I mention that 5% of the global population is Deaf/hard of hearing. That’s 350 million people (roughly the population of the United States). Of 350 million only 2% of these folks (7 million) would call themselves Christian. There are 299 other sign languages in the world and 343 million people left to reach. The Bible, has just last year, been interpreted into ASL. There is a LOT of work to be done. The number of unreached people who are Deaf is staggering. Because these precious people don’t have a country they have created pockets of community throughout the world. The Deaf have culture, language, and very common experiences regardless of their nationality.
James also mentions about The LEAD Program, that Deaf are teaching Deaf in ASL. In most cases (especially in local churches) the hearing teach the deaf. The Deaf seldom teach other Deaf. The Deaf almost never teach the hearing. I am still learning why all these nuances exist and hopefully in the future we can have one of our ASL students, graduates or Cohort Directors provide us with information about this phenomena. So, for James to give LEAD this massive pat on the back is humbling. There is so much more work to do. We need to continue to share that ministry equipping is available to those who are Deaf and is taught by those who are deaf. Not because this is a novelty, but because this is how leadership development works. This is how the gospel works. Contextualizing our communication so that the message can be understood and received. We contextualize for Spanish and French speakers. We have to do this for American Sign Language users and the other 299 other sign languages around the globe in order for workers to be raised up from the harvest and for the harvest.
For The LEAD Program we count it a privilege to provide opportunities to equip ministry leaders in their native languages. LEAD equips leaders in English, French, Spanish and ASL. We would like to have you partner in two ways. 1) Pray everyday at 10:02 am that God would send more workers in the harvest field. 2) Support the training of Deaf / Hard of Hearing leaders by giving financially. Each dollar helps provide materials, trainings, and scholarships for our Deaf Students. If you would like to get involved by providing financial support for the interpretation of ASL Materials or Training of future ASL Leaders, head over to our giving page! Your support could propel many Deaf leaders to reach many lost Deaf people.