More than 300 people sat transfixed, their eyes following every gesture on the screen before them. For many deaf Tanzanians, this was the first exposure to Scripture in their own language — Sign Language.
When food was served, many stayed in their seats to continue watching. The signed stories came from new, carefully translated Scriptures on DVD and included 35 Bible stories.
The dedication for DVD Scriptures began at 11 a.m. on November 19. When viewers had packed the auditorium, more gathered outside and watched on closed-circuit TV. Deaf community members celebrated this event through signed songs with drum accompaniment, signed speeches and dramatic skits.
As administrators distributed the DVD Scriptures, hundreds of hands rose high in the air, trembling and shaking — applause in Sign Language. Some people leapt for joy; others climbed on top of benches to watch the proceedings.
Praise also ran high among the 11 hearing people who attended the event.
“This is better than the [national language] translation,” said the parent of a deaf child. “This is the first time I have understood this [Scripture] well!”
Six countries in East Africa now have Bible stories on DVD that have been translated into Sign Language. To learn more, see DOOR.