A Different Language

My church has a deaf ministry. Each service is interpreted for the deaf. The people involved in the ministry and the deaf members sit at the front of the section of pews where I sit. I frequently watch the interpretators. I don’t know ASL (American Sign Language) but it’s interesting to see them turing the spoken words I hear into signs the deaf can “read.”

Wednesday night I felt sorry for the two women who did the interpreting. One did the congregational songs which opened the service. The man who selected the songs chose ones we have not sung in who knows how long. Even if you were familiar with them, you might not have remembered all the words. On top of that, one of them was quite a fast song so keeping up with the congregation was a real challenge.

The other woman did the Bible lesson. That too was difficult to sign. Lots of Bible references which have to be fingerspelled. On top of that, the minister used lots of phrases that were clear to the hearing but difficult to interpret for the deaf.

I talked to the woman who did the songs after the service. She pointed out that not only do they have to interpret what is said (or sung) but they have to put it in language that the deaf understand. So much of what we say is foreign to them. I’d never thought about that but, based on what she said, they don’t use the full vocabulary that we use and that’s why they don’t understand some expressions.

Those people who are involved in deaf ministry deserve a big pat on the back. Theirs is not an easy job yet they persevere in trying to bring the gospel to everyone.

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