In Mongolia, a sparsely populated country bordered by Russia and China, there is a deaf community of between 10,000 – 12,000 people. For the one percent of deaf people who practice Christianity, attending church can be a lonely and isolated experience.
For many deaf people, the Bible is simply out of reach. Limited access to education, which means that only one per cent of deaf people can read and write Mongolian, makes learning a spoken language well enough to read Scripture exceedingly difficult.
However, deaf people are taking hold of the reins. There is now a church for deaf people in Mongolia’s capital, Ulaanbaatar, called Hope Church. The church is led by a deaf pastor, who preaches in Mongolian Sign Language, and the congregation sing and worship together in Sign language.
Members of this church are leading the way, too, when it comes to translating the Word of God into their heart language: Mongolian Sign Language. In 2019, a translation team completed the Book of James, and they are now working on Matthew, chapters 1 – 21; 1 and 2 Peter; and 1, 2 and 3 John. They are calling this project the “Sign of Love Sign Language Bible project”. They are also taking the new Sign language Scripture to other deaf Christians in remote parts of the country.
It is typical of the energy and enthusiasm that is being shown by the Mongolian Church, which although young is already sending missionaries to remote parts of Mongolia. The Church in Mongolia has grown from as few as four Christians when communism ended in 1990 to around 60,000 today with 650 churches scattered throughout the country.
In 2019, a Sign language translation team from Hope Church made an eleven-hour train journey to a remote village in Bulgan Province, in northern Mongolia. They arrived with the recently completed Book of James in video format on their phones to share with deaf Christian friends there. One of the members of the team was Javzaa, a woman who has born deaf. Javzaa is passionate about bringing the Bible to other deaf Christians.
“This Sign Bible is so very, very important to me and to all deaf people. Because through this Sign Bible, it will minister to us. There are many souls in need. The one help that they need most is the Word of God in Sign language. We want deaf people to be saved. We want them to be able to know God’s Word. This is my deepest desire,” said Javzaa.
In the village, Javzaa sat on a bench in her friend’s ger (semi-permanent tent), with the sunlight peeking through the ceiling flaps, and her friends crowding around her. All eyes were glued to her screen as they watched the new Sign language Scripture video for the first time. One of them, Shirininkov, nodded along as he watched God’s Word unfold before his eyes.
“With the Sign Language Bible, I can understand God’s Word, and when I learn God’s Word, then I can grow in my faith,” signs Shirininkov. He cannot wait for the day when he can simply tap his phone and watch God’s Word anywhere, even in his remote country.
Sign of Love Sign Language Bible project
Discover how the “Sign of Love” project is helping deaf Mongolians to learn about God so He can touch their heart and change their life in the video below.