Thoughts on Checking John 3:16 in JSL

This week, I was checking John chapter three. I realized how much we take for granted. If you were Japanese and Deaf, your chances of encountering John 3:16 in your native language would be miniscule. ViBi hasn’t translated it yet. No one has published it yet. Maybe your pastor would have explained it to you, but even then, he probably signed it straight from the Japanese Bible. But Japanese and Japanese Sign Language are two very, very different languages.

I was in a Bible study a few months back with a man who has been a Christian more than 30 years. He has memorized John 3:16 in Japanese. He could sign the words straight from the Japanese no problem, but what did he learn from it? He knows the doctrine of the trinity, but was confused because this verse was telling him Jesus couldn’t be God. And that of all the people in the world, only one person was left standing without being destroyed, but the others, they probably were destroyed. And the connection with believing and not being destroyed was also missing. That is how he understood the Japanese Bible.

How would you feel in a situation like that?  I wanted John translated yesterday!  I wished the whole Bible was available to this man 30 years ago! The question is, will someone be telling this same story about another Bible passage 30 years from now? I hope not.

Please pray!! I sat down and did a simple calculation yesterday. We are translating roughly 1,000 verses a year, and I divided that by the total cost of everything ViBi pays (mostly salaries) to operate the translation project. The result? It costs us roughly 9,000 yen ($115) per verse translated. (That does not include my salary, which, thanks to all of you sending us, ViBi doesn’t have to pay.)

And also, THANK YOU!! Thank you that because of your support and prayer, Japanese Deaf people do have 17% of the Bible (42% of the New Testament) available to them. Your caring makes a difference in the world.


About Mark and Mary Esther Penner

Mark works as an adviser and resource to a Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project that plays a key role in the worldwide sign language Bible translation movement. Mary Esther founded a non-profit organization that partners with local communities and organizations to collect, refurbish and send wheelchairs throughout Asia.
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5 Responses to Thoughts on Checking John 3:16 in JSL

  1. Nancy Barrett says:

    What about doing a fund raiser, either online or live, and request people buy a verse at $115 or ¥9000 each? It could add up quickly!
    Perhaps these donors could be then be acknowledged in some special way once the translation is complete by including their name somewhere.
    You could send this out to all the churches you are involved with, all your friends throughout the world, and ask your friends to send to their friends and their churches – it could spread like wildfire! 🙂

  2. Brilliant! Can I share your idea to our facebook page? I’d like to get some input and help in putting it together. I thought of having people choose verses to sponsor, like from a website or something, but don’t know how exactly to go about setting it up. A thank you gift of a hand made wooden pen made by a Deaf pastor? You get the verse you chose in Japanese brush writing? Get things set up in time to make it “my Christmas gift to the Japanese Deaf community?” Other ideas?
    That was a great idea. Thanks so much for your input. Wildfire works for me–here’s to trying anyway.

    • Nancy Barretr says:

      Absolutely! You’re running with it and I’m sure it can become a very successful fundraiser!

      • Nancy Barrett says:

        Bro, I just came across this website while I was going thru Pinterest and thought this might be helpful to the cause. It is called “ – when you need to raise funds online for an event or a cause”. Take a look at it, it might be just what you need to get this project off the ground. People can donate using PayPal.
        I think advertising these as Christmas gifts is a perfect idea. Everyone has tooooooo much stuff as it is and who wouldn’t like to have the funds go to this organization which is unique and Christian and probably even tax-deductible, for their favorite Bible verse to be shared with the Japanese deaf community? I think it could turn into a bestseller!
        Hugs from yo sista, Nancy

  3. Mark Penner says:

    Just a note for everyone since we are getting ready to launch the fundraiser soon–I sat down with our office manager and learned that this years total expenses are higher than I thought. I guess I’m a few years behind the times! Though we budgeted quite a bit more, we’re probably on track to be spending about $120 per verse this year, so that’s why the discrepancy, in case anyone noticed.

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