“I felt like I was not important,” Carlos says. “I was a poor kid, and I had no value. It was almost like I was garbage.”
Carlos was born Deaf … and lonely. His Deaf parents could not sign, but they managed to fight frequently. When his father finally left, his mother resorted to prostitution, often bringing home customers to the one-room house she shared with her children. Food was often so scarce that he and his siblings ate dog food to alleviate their hunger. His mother encouraged him to take to the streets and beg.
Watch Carlos’ story:
The Deaf: The Largest Unreached People Group
According to Deaf Bible Society, sign language is the first or only language for 70 million people worldwide. It is the language they know and use daily—the language that speaks to their hearts—yet only 2% of Deaf people have ever been introduced to the gospel. At least 95% of the more than 400 unique sign languages in existence have no Bible translation.
When Carlos’ grandmother visited him for the first time and realized he was not attending school, she quickly took him to the national school for the Deaf in Rio de Janeiro. Carlos was only seven years old, but it seemed as if a whole new life had opened up to him. He was taught Brazilian Sign Language, also known as LIBRAS.
Everything Started to Change
The more Carlos learned, the more he realized he didn’t want to return to his past. He dreaded going home on the weekends, so he stayed with friends. One friend invited him to church, and though he had refused many times before, he finally went. When he heard the good news of Jesus, he became a believer.
And everything started to change.
After reconciling with his mother, he told her about Jesus. She, too, became a Christian. After graduating from seminary, Carlos also had the opportunity to baptize her. She quit prostitution and became active in the local church.
God’s Word Alive for Every Generation
Now, Carlos and his wife Fabiana have a family of their own. They have two children; Isaac is hearing, and Isadora is Deaf.
In 2017, after visiting the LIBRAS Bible translation project in Curitiba, Brazil, he knew God was calling him to the team. He signed one of the children’s Bible stories for a DVD, and while doing so, he thought of the great impact it would have on his daughter.
When he brought the recording home, she excitedly asked him to play it, over and over. She understood everything.
So far, the team has recorded more than 20 Bible stories in LIBRAS. But with 9.7 million Brazilians suffering from some sort of hearing impairment, the need for more LIBRAS translation work is great.
“My dream is that there would be 9.7 million Brazilians that would become believers,” Carlos signs. “In the past, I grew up with nothing. I had a wasted life. But now, going forward, I can help Bible translation spread all over the world.”
Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age. — Matthew 28:19–20 (NLT)
Do you want to help reach the rest of the world’s 400 sign languages with the gospel through Bible translation? Discover how you can get involved.