Door International founded deafbibles.com to bring the gospel, one story at a time, to the world’s 35 million Deaf. The Deaf (upper case “D”) are a cultural-linguistic group who cannot hear and who use sign language to communicate.
Door International is an organization working to translate the Bible into various sign languages, specifically in Africa, rural India, and the Philippines.
Translating the Bible into native sign languages helps spread the gospel to the Deaf.
“If they are going to be reached, they aren’t going to be reached through a written program,” explained Mike Buus, president of Door International. “They’re going to have to be reached on the hands of another person.”
Several individuals and churches, including Discovery Christian Reformed Church in Cutlerville, Mich., sponsor the organization.
Back in 1999 when Buus and his wife developed sign language translations on VHS tapes, distribution was painfully slow.
But today the Deaf all over the world can access 32 stories in seven different sign languages on their computers, tablets, or phones. Door International translates story by story to communicate the basics of the Christian faith, said Buus.
Translation can prove difficult, so Door International is working with Wycliffe Bible Translators as well as people in Africa and Asia who are Deaf to ensure accuracy.
Each story has three video parts: one to teach new vocabulary, one to give context, and one for the Scripture narrative.
Creating a website presented its own unique challenge, according to Timm Bloem, a member of Covenant CRC in Cutlerville, Mich., and a partner at Thinkbox Creative.
“We couldn’t build a website with normal navigational parts,” he said. “We had to build this visually. It’s not going to make sense to anyone who’s not Deaf.”
The homepage of the website has no words or sound, but a looping 4-second video that encourages visitors—in sign language—to select the flag of their home country.
The website currently hosts seven countries: India, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Ghana, and Burundi. Buus hopes to add Nigeria, Russia, and China to the list soon.
Door International also hopes to reach a total of 110 stories this summer and finish stories in American Sign Language in September.