Why Sign Language Translation work?

As a young teen I remember my family inviting people into our home to tell of their experiences overseas. I was struck by their stories and knew I wanted to devote my life to cross-cultural work. It was clear to me that I was not going to live the typical American life from an early age and planned my life around it. I went to college and  majored in intercultural studies and continued to pursue opportunities whenever they presented themselves so I would be trained. I felt after college a specific call to wait until I gained more experience before applying to any organizations. So I waited and eventually started dating a wonderful women.

This woman, now my wife Rachel, was really clear. She was going to do missions and God had made her specifically for linguistic translation work. But I was perplexed. Who would devote their entire life to ministering in one place with one people for 30 years of their life?! I was hesitant to sign up for such a call. It didn’t feel right to me. So while we were dating, then engaged we struggled with this seeming inconsistency in our vision. I knew I was to do cross cultural work, but not sure what. She was convinced it was translation for minority language groups. We knew God had called us together and were convinced he would straighten out our calling in His time. And he did.

In late 2008, we decided to pursue Rachel’s dream and see if it would be a good fit for us both. I didn’t know what I would end up doing, but I figured we should talk about it. We ended up going to a summer of training in 2009 at the University of North Dakota to see if it was a good fit. During that summer my whole outlook changed. I went trusting my wife knew something I didn’t about our future. I left having felt God’s specific call towards Sign Language Translation. It was a pivotal moment in our lives and we start ordering our steps to work with the Deaf. We started learning American Sign Language and started figuring out how we could get the training we needed. We were frustrated because the job God provided us kept us from pursuing the education we would need to work with Sign Language communities around the world! We basically would have to quit Rachel’s job in order for us to move forward. However, early this spring we started pursuing Wycliffe again because we would be quitting Rachel’s job and very quickly it went from needing 2-3 more years to get on the field too being asked to speed up the process because they wanted us in southeast Asia by January 2013.

When God speaks He makes a way, in His timing, and with His provision!

Guest Post: Not Exactly Bible Trivia

Creating a VISUAL Bible through a visual language and including hand-drawn pictures is inherent with it’s own unique challenges! There are many things in the Bible we can read without putting much thought into what it looked like, but for a Sign Language Bible, that is not an option!


Here’s a taste of the questions I get asked during an average workday here at DOOR…

What was the Ark of the Covenant made of?
What were the items kept in the Ark of the Covenant?
How do you draw Leah with weak eyes?
How do you draw the concept of forgiveness?
What did Miriam’s leprosy look like?
What is the meaning of Daniel’s dream in Daniel 4?
Are the Wilderness of Sin & the Wilderness of Zin the same place?
What did manna look like?
How did it spoil in only a day?
How much would one measure of manna have weighed?
What is “curd”?
What is the significance of the ram’s horn in 1 Sam. 16:1?
What did the Israelites carry Joseph’s bones in when they left Egypt?
Did Moses really carry Joseph’s bones himself or did others help?
Were the tax collector’s tables that Jesus overturned in the temple made of wood or metal? (Because it matters how you sign it — and there is no generic word for “table” without saying “wood-table” or “metal-table” in one of the sign languages we’re working with).

And did you know…
There is no garden named Eden in the Bible? Eden was the name of the place where the garden was planted, not the name of the garden itself.
Eve is not named until after the fall.
There’s no account in Scripture of Adam ever being “named.”
Man is the first thing God makes without simply speaking it into existence.
That the Hebrew word for Eve’s pain in childbirth and Adam’s pain in tilling the soil (Genesis 3:15-17) is the same word!?


– From colleague working with Deaf in east Africa


Feel free to answer any of these questions if you know the answer!