Interview with Renca Dunn

Voiceover.  10 minutes.
Are you wondering why Deaf Missions would invest so much time, money and effort into a project like the Jesus movie? You have to read this e-mail from one of our translation team members to understand our heart.

Resources for Deaf people are very limited – especially resources to share the Gospel in a Deaf person’s native language. Deaf Missions has a mandate from God to create epic media content to reach the 70 million Deaf people who deserve to see the real Jesus.

We interviewed Renca Dunn and asked her to share her story. Renca not only has a passion to help us make and produce epic videos for Deaf people, but her life was also radically changed by the Gospel. If you have ever wanted to “peek behind the curtain” on the life of a Deaf person, read this e-mail! Renca shares her real struggles and explains exactly why Deaf people need communication in sign language to help them see and know Jesus.

It’s long, but you will be encouraged and inspired by all of Renca’s comments.

Question: How is communication a challenge for you when sign language isn’t used? How does that make you feel?

Renca: I think this is an excellent question to ask Deaf people in general. This is a layered kind of question for me because I was born Deaf and I grew up as a Deaf person. I come from a third generation of having a Deaf family. Even with that background, I still have thousands of experiences related with communication barriers and how they affect the way I feel. The first thing we need to recognize is that sign language is the best way that Deaf people use to communication and express ourselves. It has been historically and scientifically proven. Now, for me, when sign language is taken away or not used, part of me just withers away because this means I do not have access to communication. This means I am denied, intentionally, of getting information or denied a better understanding of something. If I already struggle with that here in the USA, imagine how many other Deaf people in different countries also struggle with this. Our number one factor in relationships with people in our lives in general is communication. When the communication is gone, the relationship is also gone.


Question: When you first saw the Gospel in ASL, how did it change your life?

Renca: The Bible finally came alive for me. The clapping trees. The signing birds. The dancing meadows. The patient Moses. The persistent Esther. The revengeful Saul. The weeping Magdalene. Most of all, our loving Jesus. Words cannot do justice to explain to Deaf people about the Bible in depth. This is where sign language comes in. No, there will never be perfection in any language translation, but there will always be connection and sign language provides that opportunity for Deaf people. From reading the English text of “He leads me beside still waters” has never been as visual to me until I saw how that verse was signed. I finally can have a clear picture in my head of what the English text means. Deaf people in general depend on a lot of visuals. We need to see things in order for us to “see” it in our heads. So, when I see the Bible in sign language, I finally feel that God does get me. He understands me. He wants me to understand Him. He loves me. He wants me to love Him. He speaks my language. Better yet, God signs my sign language.


Question: Tell us your testimony and how seeing the Gospel in ASL made a difference in your life.

Renca: For thousands of years, Deaf people have been deprived of our language. We have been shamed on. We have been oppressed. We have been rejected. We have been made fun of. We have been looked down upon. We have been viewed as people that others need to “fix.”

Deaf people are used to this view from the majority of the world. There is a huge gap between God and many Deaf people out there. No, it is not because we are Deaf, but it is because the communication of our primary language of the Bible is scarce. I have traveled to many different countries and I realize how many Deaf people out there suffer greatly because in their countries, they are not accepted in their society. Most Deaf people I meet mention they feel distant from God or even question if God exists because they do not understand.

They sit in churches watching hearing people preach with their speaking lips. They try to read the texts inside the Bible in a language that they already struggle with in schools. They hold their Bible in their hands given by hearing people and yes, probably the Bible is written in their language, but the problem is that they never learned how to read or write. So the Bible they have has built up dust over time. This is why sign language for the Gospel is so important. It’s all about accessibility.

I recall meeting one Deaf woman during one of our community checks that we have related with our translation work. She came up to me and started crying. She held my arm and then she said, “I finally understand. Thank you.”

Her words were enough for me to see how important it is to see more of the Gospel in sign language. Seeing other Deaf people understand the Gospel in ASL is the difference that it makes for me in my life. This access to understanding the Bible in sign language is not just for me, but for every Deaf person in this planet. The Gospel is meant for everyone to know and to understand. If that one Deaf woman made a difference for me related with the Gospel in ASL, then how much more of a difference can we make together with sign language for Deaf people around the world?
Please read Renca’s comments one more time: “There is a huge gap between God and many Deaf people out there. No, it is not because we are Deaf, but it is because the communication of the Bible in our primary language is scarce.”

Today is the day you can help Deaf Missions stand in the gap! An investment of $25 will help us to finish the script of the Jesus movie…you can make a one time gift, or make a monthly gift of $25 to help us finish the Jesus movie to introduce Jesus to 70 million Deaf people around the globe!


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