ViBi is a Deaf-led Japan-based project that exists to see the Living Word in living Deaf communities throughout Japan. To accomplish this, we translate the Bible into Japanese Sign Language and deliver it to Deaf churches and to the whole Japanese Deaf community. The translation is delivered via smartphone and tablet apps, YouTube, DVD. We have become known throughout the Sign Language Bible translation world as innovators, pioneering new ways to tackle the formidable task of putting the Bible into a signed language on video format. The JSL Bible US Support Team exists to support ViBi from the US through raising awareness, increasing financial donations, and praying for the project.
Why We Are
Some people believe the myth that Deaf people should just learn to read. Japanese Sign Language has its own origin and is quite distinct from the spoken language of Japan. This means that the Japanese Deaf community has very limited access to the Bible. For the Deaf community in Japan, JSL is the way they've communicated from childhood and is the basis of their entire life: how they express themselves, gain information and develop relationships. A Sign Language Bible is not just a luxury; it is a desperate need if Deaf people are to be reached with the gospel. Paul knew he had to reach people exactly where they were (1 Corinthians 9:22). The Deaf community is a ripe harvest eager to see the gospel.
Where We Come From
In 1992, leaders of all known Deaf ministries in Japan gathered to discuss the need for a Japanese Sign Language Bible translation project. In April of 1993, they formed a board of directors and Japan Deaf Evangel Mission (J-DEM) was born with ViBi as its Bible Translation arm. In 2003, Japan Bible Society began supporting ViBi and publishing our work. In 2009, SIL, an international linguistics partnership in Asia Pacific, began supporting us as well. In 2014, the JSL Bible US Support Team was formed to provide American support for this project (JSL Bible US Support Team).
What We’ve Done
Since 1993, 32% of the Bible has been translated in Japanese Sign Language, including: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Ruth, Esther, Jonah, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Acts, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 1 & 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon, James, 1-3 John, and Jude. Top-level Japanese Sign Language experts and community leaders are aware of our work, and many have led workshops for us to help improve our translation. Having built increasing capacity through the years, ViBi is now on track to complete the Bible in 30 years.
In 1993, US donors kick-started the translation project with generous donations. 98% of our first few years budget was from the U.S. To ensure sustainability, we intentionally changed, and by 2003, 98% of funding was coming from Japanese sources. Japan Bible Society’s support increased our base from the $50,000/year level to the $100,000/year level. In 2009, Wycliffe-related funding was added, and with other increases as well, we soon reached the $150,000 level, though funding has fallen off somewhat since 2013. Total income from Japan over the past 25 years has been $2,400,000 USD at present exchange rates.
Funding affects production. In our first phase, it would have taken 120 years to finish the Bible. In the second phase, it was 60 years. If we can sustain our present pace of translation and our present budget, we are now on track to finish in 30 years. By increasing funding and personnel, we hope to complete the Bible for the Deaf community of Japan in 15 years, by 2034.
Through ViBi to Asia
We offer the opportunity to invest in JSL Bible by sharing in prayer, funding, and expertise; to dramatically increase the pace of Bible translation for the Deaf community of Japan. This investment not only advances the gospel among the Deaf of Japan, but in the whole Asia Pacific region. ViBi has inspired, worked alongside with, and even helped start a good number of the 20 other Sign Language Bible translation projects throughout the Pacific Rim.