History of Deaf Missions
Deaf Missions is truly a story of God at work. Our history and work demonstrates our belief that Deaf people are included in Jesus’ “Great Commission” in Matthew 28:19, 20a (NIV), “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.”
Duane King, Founder of Deaf Missions, first met Deaf people while serving as minister of First Christian Church in Norfolk, Nebraska. During the Christmas season of 1966, Duane was asked to deliver an anonymous cash gift to some Deaf people. From this first meeting with Emery and Louise Booth came the challenge to reach them and other Deaf people with the Gospel of Jesus.
By 1970, God’s call was so strong on Duane’s heart and mind that he knew he had to minister with Deaf people full-time, and on March 28, 1970, Deaf Missions was born. Deaf Missions was officially incorporated as an Iowa non-profit and recognized by the Internal Revenue Service as a tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code in November of 1970, meaning that financial gifts to Deaf Missions are tax-deductible.
After-school Bible classes have been taught continuously at Iowa School for the Deaf in Council Bluffs since 1968 (even before Deaf Missions was founded). Classes also met at Nebraska School for the Deaf in Omaha until the school closed in 1998.
Two other important ministries were started soon after Deaf Missions began. Christ’s Church of the Deaf was established in Council Bluffs, Iowa, in July of 1971. This congregation still meets today. Deaf Missions welcomed Deaf people and their families and friends to our annual Bible Camp for the Deaf from 1971 to 2014. Deaf Missions has also helped other groups to begin Deaf churches and camps in other states.
From 1977 to 2015, Deaf Missions hosted the Extension Class Program, which granted students from different Bible colleges up to 16 hours of college credit when they completed studies in courses at Deaf Missions which focused on ministering among Deaf people.
Deaf Missions has also conducted other training programs through the years including God Loves Deaf People and Building Better Families workshops. Currently, Deaf Missions continues to train leaders and interpreters through the Deaf Christian Leaders and Christian Interpreters conferences.
In 1979, Deaf Missions printed the first issue of Daily Devotions for the Deaf. Since then, Deaf Missions has published a devotion for every day! Currently, thousands of devotion books are distributed three times a year to Deaf and hearing people in more than 90 nations. Devotions are translated into several other languages, including American Sign Language (ASL). These devotions, now called Deaf Devo, are now also available in video and text on Deaf Missions website, Deaf Devo app, Deaf Devo page on Facebook and via daily e-mail.
The enormous project of translating the Bible into American Sign Language (ASL) was conceived in 1981. After 23 years, we finished the American Sign Language Version (ASLV) of the New Testament. Also, more than one-half of the Old Testament has been translated. Deaf Missions has an ambitious goal of completing the Old Testament by 2020, thereby giving Deaf people the first-ever complete Bible in a sign language! The ASLV Bible may be viewed on Deaf Missions website and via the Deaf Bible app – which has reached a million downloads! At least sixteen other nations started sign language translations after being inspired by Deaf Missions.
Deaf Missions has produced the popular made-for-TV show, The Finger Food Café, and is producing Big Bible Stories in American Sign Language, a series of videos teaching Deaf children stories in the Bible. Also, Deaf Missions, in partnership with a couple other Deaf ministries, has completed 52 of 65 episodes of Dr. Wonder’s Workshop for Deaf children and their families and friends, now available on various Christian TV networks and online. These videos may be viewed on Deaf Missions’ website.
In the mid-1970s, Duane had a vision of establishing a “mini-Bible college” to train and equip Deaf and hearing people to more effectively reach Deaf people with the Gospel of Jesus. This dream became reality in the fall of 2011 when the Deaf Missions Training Center (DMTC) was launched.
Financial support for Deaf Missions comes from individuals, churches, church groups, clubs and foundations. We are blessed by many, many of those who have prayed and given through the years – some starting before 1970 and continuing to the present time!
A Board of Directors is actively involved with Deaf Missions, meeting at least four times a year. The board consists of Christian people – male and female, Deaf and hearing, elderly and younger – who have experience and skills in business, church, management, Deaf culture, finance, Christian ministry, etc. All of the board members strongly adhere to the goal of restoring the church to the pattern that the New Testament describes, and they strongly believe that Deaf people are to be included in the New Testament Christian church. Jesus said in Mark 16:15 to “preach the Gospel to the whole creation.”
After 37 years of leading Deaf Missions and at the age of 70 years old in November of 2007, Duane turned over the directorship of Deaf Missions to Chad Entinger. Chad is Deaf and highly regarded by both Deaf and hearing people. He grew up in the Christian Church in Howard Lake, Minnesota. Duane remains involved in the ministry of Deaf Missions serving in public and church relations part-time. Even with the change of leaders, Deaf Missions’ focus and purposes remain the same – to reach Deaf people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
With our roots in the Restoration Movement, Deaf Missions is committed to practicing unity in the body of Christ with Scripture as the sole authority. We promote the restoration of the unity of the Church by mobilizing Christians to work together on the basis of obeying the clearly taught, essential elements of Scripture while allowing for a wide diversity of opinions on matters that Scripture does not make clear. Because of our history, we pay special attention to mobilizing the churches of our heritage, but we seek also to mobilize believers of every background, all who are able to unite around obeying God’s Word and making it accessible to Deaf people who do not have it. Today, Deaf Missions bridges the gap between the Church and Bibleless Deaf people groups, translating the Word and distributing resources in sign languages – the native, heart languages of unreached Deaf people thereby transforming their lives for eternity.
From humble beginnings, Deaf Missions now impacts the lives of Deaf people and their families and friends in all 50 states and in more than 90 countries around the world. Deaf Missions is a noted and respected leader among ministries with Deaf people, and its outreach extends through more than 60 different denominations.