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IMB missionary leads a prayer group.

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A Sign of Good News

Paul, an International Mission Board missionary, sits just outside a crowded cafeteria. Chairs grate across the floor. A cacophony of voices vibrate through the room. Forks scrape plates. The ice in the drink machine clinks to the bottom of an empty glass.

He hears none of it.

More than 71 million people worldwide are Deaf like Paul. Most culturally Deaf people have almost no access to Scripture in their heart language. Few have ever had the Gospel shared with them. Most have never seen Jesus’ name in sign language.

But Paul connects easily with other Deaf. He is uniquely equipped to disciple them because he experiences the world in much the same way they do.


IMB missionary signs the Gospel story.
STORYTELLING — Deaf IMB missionary, Paul, works with Deaf West Africans as they lay out the big picture of a Bible story.
The commonalities between Paul and Joseph, a Senegalese convert from Islam, have helped Paul disciple him more effectively.

Though Joseph was already a believer when they met, he hungered to dive deeper into God’s Word. He had a basic understanding of the Gospel but couldn’t fully grasp the truths of written Scripture.

Joseph needed to see the Word, not just read it. Seeing is how he connects with the world. Paul understands this need to learn visually, and, along with StoryOne Camps, he teaches the Bible in a way Deaf can comprehend — through storying.

Joseph, a Senegalese believer, is discipled by IMB missionary Paul

DEDICATED — Joseph, a Senegalese believer, is helping translate the Bible into Francophone African Sign Language, so other Deaf people have access to Scripture in their heart language. 

Deaf West Africans use workshops at StoryOne camps to learn how to present Bible stories visually.

FAITH BY SIGHT — A Deaf West African man attends a workshop at a StoryOne camp to learn how to present Bible stories visually.

Paul used three sets of Bible stories that rely on sign language mnemonics to help Joseph commit the stories to memory more effectively. This visual presentation of Scripture resonated with the new believer.

After attending the first StoryOne Camp, Joseph was sold on this storying method. When another was held, he returned.

“He felt so moved and so inspired, and we were excited for him to experience that,” Paul explains.

Now, because Joseph was given access to the Scripture in his heart language— Francophone African Sign Language — he’s passionate about sharing God’s Word with others who need access to the Gospel in a way they can understand.

But Joseph’s faith has come at a cost. His family has disowned him, but that hasn’t slowed him down. He’s working in a Deaf church, disciplining other believers through this mnemonic storying method.

Another way this growing disciple is fulfilling the Great Commission is through his involvement with a Bible translation project. He is partnering with Paul and Deaf Pathway Global, an organization that transforms print translations of the Bible into visual resources.

Joseph couldn’t see a clearer sign from God that he’s in the right place.


*Some names in this story have been changed for security reasons. All photos courtesy of the International Mission Board. 

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Portrait of Myriah Snyder

Myriah Snyder writes and edits for the International Mission Board. She resides in Nashville, Tennessee, and enjoys attending Long Hollow Church. In her free time, you can find her consuming cheesy Christian fiction and coffee.


Myriah Snyder
Senior Writer, International Mission Board | Nashville, TN