Jesus Film in sign language reaches Deaf community, one of the least reached people groups

By Carolina Luciano Burgos |

Deaf Missions along with the Jesus Film Project recently released the story of Jesus in American Sign Language (ASL) giving many members of the Deaf community access to the gospel for the first time. This take on the story of Jesus was directed, acted and produced by Deaf professionals so that the story accurately reflects the biblical account while also naturally communicating through the “Deaf lens.” The movie premiered on April 4 at the Deaf Missions Conference in Arlington.

Executive Director of the Jesus Film Project Josh Newell said, “At Jesus Film Project, we believe everyone, everywhere should have access to Jesus’ life-changing love and forgiveness. We break language and literacy barriers to ensure that anyone, anywhere can watch Christian films.” He also declared that their partnership with Deaf Missions will reach a largely unreached people group with the gospel “directly at their heart language.”

The motion picture includes a cast of Deaf actors and native ASL signers. English subtitles are also available for non-signing viewers. According to Christian Today,  the film marks a significant milestone in Jesus Film project efforts “to increase inclusivity and representation and find new ways to share the Gospel in a changing world.”

“Jesus (A Deaf Missions Film)” Producer and Director Joseph Josselyn said he is excited to see how Deaf communities respond to the film.

“They can finally watch a movie about Jesus without any language barriers [and] be fully immersed in the film,” signed Josselyn who is Deaf. “Jesus is signing, all the actors are signing, because the cast is Deaf. The Deaf community will see this and have that instant connection.”

Deaf Missionsis testing sign-dub technology so that this film and other gospel videos can be translated into the more than 400 Deaf sign languages around the world. This directly contributes to the continued mission of Deaf Missionsto “communicate the Gospel of Jesus with Deaf people through their heart language, culture and identity.”

According to Deaf Missions, around 68 million of the world’s 70 million Deaf people worldwide who use a sign language as their first language have never heard the gospel. With further translations, their new film could play an important part in reaching them.

Deaf Missions partners with a variety of organizations including American Bible Society, Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, Deaf Bible Society, Deaf Harbor, the Deaf Millennial Project, D Group, Door International, Forum of Bible Agencies International, the Jesus Film Project, Philippine Deaf Sign Language Association, Gum Vision Studio, Pioneer Bible Translators, Seed Company, SIL International, Silent Blessings Deaf Ministries, and Wycliffe Bible Translators USA. Their contributions helped make “Jesus (A Deaf Missions Film)” possible.

The Jesus Film Project website features the Jesus Film Collection. The free gospel video streaming library comprises more than 700 Christian films and ministry tools available in more than 2,000 languages.

On their website, The Jesus Film Projectsays they aim to, “deliver the story of Jesus on film so all can hear Him speak in their language and see His love play out on screen.” The original “JESUS” movie (popularly known as the Film), first launched in 1979 and currently holds the Guinness record for being the world’s most translated movie. By May of 2024, it had been translated into 2,100 languages.