By Chad Entinger
Pah is slang for “finally!” in American Sign Language. It is what Deaf people sign when something is finally finished or when something is finally changed and improved for the better in their lives.
[This is a sidebar to “Deaf Missions (U.S.): Seeing God’s Word Come to Life,” by Mary Alice Gardner.]
“Pah!” is exactly what Deaf people, including myself, have been saying more lately. For a long time, Deaf people have felt ignored and overlooked. Bible-based resources have primarily been developed for hearing people. But I personally believe God is turning the tide as more resources are being produced and distributed among Deaf people. This is truly the time—thanks to modern technology platforms such as websites, apps, social media, and portable media devices—to reach Deaf people using videos in sign language.
“Pah!” is what Deaf people signed last year when Deaf Missions finished production of The Book of Job, a full-length feature film dramatizing the Old Testament figure’s story in American Sign Language. One Deaf man from Texas signed, “Wow, we pah (finally) have a Christian film that is in our language. There are other faith-based movies out there, but there are no other Hollywood productions that portray the story of Job. This is a first! It’s inspiring that we have taken that step in creating this historic milestone, and we own it. Our language, our community owns it!”
Throughout the past year, more than 120 Deaf churches and ministries have hosted showings of The Book of Job as part of their local Deaf community outreach. Many Deaf non-Christians have watched the film at these showings because this is a “Deaf” film. And they have responded!
One Deaf church in Massachusetts shared, “After watching the film, seven Deaf persons became saved and some responded with tears. The movie lasted not 1.5 hours, but from 6:00 to 10:30. Many asked to pause the movie often so that they could ask questions! With a great example of Job’s sufferings, many Deaf people felt encouraged to remain strong in faith while facing various trials.” Praise God for transformed lives!
“Pah!” is what Deaf people will proclaim and celebrate next year when Deaf Missions completes translation of the entire Bible into American Sign Language. Finally we Deaf people will have our own complete Bible in our native, heart language! And please pray for God’s Word to be translated into all 400-plus sign languages in the world so that every Deaf person may have the opportunity to receive and understand God’s Word.
“Pah!” is what Deaf people will declare when Deaf Missions finishes our next major project: a feature film that effectively communicates the Gospel and story of Jesus in every sign language. The Jesus Film originally produced in 1979 by Campus Crusade for Christ has been “audio-dubbed” into at least 1,700 different spoken languages. Deaf Missions’ vision is to produce an original Jesus movie in American Sign Language and film it in a way that it can be “sign-dubbed” into different sign languages worldwide. For a demo of what sign-dubbing may look like, go to www.deafmissions.com/signdub.
There may be Deaf people you know or will meet in your family, workplace, and/or church. Please share with them the resources Deaf Missions has available to them at its website (www.deafmissions.com) and via the Deaf Missions video app (www.deafmissions.com/app) and Facebook page (www.facebook.com/deafmissions).
Along with Deaf Missions’ board, staff, volunteers, and supporters, my heart beats for all Deaf people to see and know Jesus. Let’s get sign language resources into their hands so we all may rejoice together before the throne in Heaven and declare, “Pah!”
Chad Entinger is CEO of Deaf Missions, located in Council Bluffs, Iowa (www.deafmissions.com).