Japanese Sign Language Bible
Thank you to the many who cared enough to pray or give or help out. Because you did, the Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project continued rolling out the changes that started last year. Uiko did a fantastic job leading the team in another year of change and innovation. This year, they recorded *1,261 verses—more than ever before.
But Uiko was also doing something else. In order to keep signing-related repetitive stress injuries to a minimum, she had Terasawa take on other responsibilities besides just translation. He took the lead, and the whole team pitched in to produce “movie spoof” themed Scripture engagement videos. The result? The project’s Facebook site passing up the 1,000 “likes” mark this year. Videos regularly had a reach of multiple thousands, with our top number being 12,442. Since the Deaf Christian population is somewhere between 2-4,000, it’s clear that we’re going beyond the walls of the church and reaching into the larger Deaf community.
Terasawa has also proven very helpful in providing a wide pool of friends and acquaintances that are willing to help with comprehension checks. One of them, a well-known Deaf theater figure, after only one viewing re-told the whole prodigal son story, with embellishments, and only one small detail left out. Terasawa and Mark both had goosebumps watching. They were sure he must have heard the story somewhere before, but he said “no, this is what I do. I’m an actor; I remember lines.” (Of course, it also means that the translation was crystal clear—he wouldn’t remember if he didn’t understand.) After the comprehension checking was done, he bought a complete set of DVDs to take home with him.
So . . . join us in celebrating a year of major victories. And do pray, because more change is coming. Terasawa gave notice and moved on at the end of December. We are very sad to see him go, but wish him well in his new position. Pray for Uiko as she interviews new people. Pray that we’ll find the right combination, train them well, and keep our momentum.
* June: Lev. 15-27, 412 verses recorded
July: Luke 7-15, 425 verses recorded
Nov: Luke 16-24, 424 verses recorded
1,261 total published this year
Thai Sign Language Bible
The Thailand team finished the Gospel of Mark in the first half of the year, and is now working on Jonah, Ruth, and the first few chapters of Acts. They went through some changes too, with the lead translator on maternity leave and their exegetical resource person leaving for more schooling. Thankfully, Justina, our new teammate in Japan, was able to fill in the exegetical slot, and another team member worked on Jonah and some of Acts until the lead translator returned.
South African Sign Language Bible
One more change for Mark was the temporary addition of one more project to work with. This summer Mark skyped in for an intense two weeks of detailed community checking, and then in December, a small window of opportunity for a face-to-face trip led to the publication of nine scripture passages from Genesis and Exodus. Pray for the team there as they continue to translate a series of short passages that introduce the broad scope of the Bible from Genesis to the birth of the church.
Wheelchairs of Hope
We began the year with a workshop reviewing how wheelchairs are to be refurbished. I heard a new volunteer exclaim, “You go to that extreme to clean a wheelchair?!” Yup, we talk about the “Gold Standard” and then there is the “Jesus Standard.” We give the wheelchair in Jesus’ name and when we give it to the “least of these” we give it to Him. So bring out the power-steam washers and also the Q-tips and toothpicks. These chairs are detailed!
In January, we took our annual trip, this time to Myanmar. We met recipients who received wheelchairs in 2015 and could now see for ourselves how the chairs were holding up. One recipient we met was a widow whose husband had been a pastor. He and their only son died the same year, leaving her essentially destitute. The shock of her loss was too much and she had a stroke necessitating a wheelchair. Hearing her story and seeing her tears of joy we were encouraged to continue doing our best to serve her and others like her. God opened amazing doors during the trip and we established contacts with several pastors, a church that has a free clinic, embassy personnel, and a highly placed medical director. These people offered to provide logistical support (processing the chairs through customs and also providing storage and helping with distribution.) Just this past December sent them a 20-foot container with 125 wheelchairs that will go to various individuals at an elder care facilities, two Christian clinics, and a special ed school.
A previous container went to Thailand in March, making the total number of wheelchairs given this year to 285. (Grand total 2,209)
We sent a wheelchair to a recipient in Bhutan this year. (It’s a tiny landlocked country laying between Tibet and India.) We look forward to seeing what inroads might be made there.
We are thankful for the five Japanese churches that use this project to reach out into their surrounding communities We are receiving more used wheelchairs than we can handle. Please pray that more volunteers will come to help, especially those adept at using a sewing machine to sew cushions for the chairs.
Please continue to pray for the upcoming annual trip, to Thailand this year. Pray for the volunteers going as they interact with each other, that God’s grace will be a reality, that His Kingdom will come and His will be done here as it is in heaven.