JWs releases book of Matthew in Filipino Sign Language

JWs releases book of Matthew in Filipino Sign Language

By: - Correspondent / @gmoulicINQ
03:07 PM May 02, 2024

JWs releases book of Matthew in Filipino Sign Language

Recording of FSL video: Deaf volunteers translate the Bible book of Matthew in Filipino Sign Language. PHOTO FROM JWs

Hear ye Filipino deaf.

You can now clearly understand the gospel in the language of your heart.


After toiling for nine months, Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) completed the translation of the New Testament book of Matthew in Filipino Sign Language (FSL) and released it last April 21 at the JW main office in Quezon City.


At least 4,000 signers and deaf individuals from different provinces were linked by video conference.

The Book of Matthew is the first complete Bible book to be translated in FSL which is used by some 500,000 deaf individuals in the Philippines.

The FSL Bible version will be much easier to understand for deaf Filipinos because it uses signs in a way that is most familiar to them, according to Dean Jacek, a member of the Branch Committee of JWs in the Philippines who is a signer himself for 30 years.

In the video, Barong-wearing Filipino signers interpret the Sermon at the Mount, Jesus Christ’s teachings, his life on earth and his ministry.

This and other Bible-based videos in FSL are available for download in the JW Sign Language app and on jw.org, the official website of JWs.

The Book of Matthew is the first of many Bible books that JWs will progressively translate in FSL, said Jacek.


Thousands of hands were seen shaking and waving in the air for several seconds as a sign of applause when the book of Matthew in FSL was released.

Why did the announcement touch the deaf community?

Because majority of the books that are commercially available are translated in American Sign Language (ASL), not FSL, according to Christian Rhey Rodriguez, 26-year-old deaf who learned FSL from JW volunteers.

ASL is taught in private and special schools but the families of the deaf who are poor cannot afford it.

Thus when the Book of Matthew was released free of charge, the Filipino deaf community rejoiced.

Rodriguez described the translation as “clear, simple and concise.”

“I’ve read the book of Matthew before in ASL but I didn’t entirely understand the signs. But after watching it in FSL, I was touched. I was able to visualize Jesus’ teachings more clearly now,” he signed.

Michael Lopez, 31-year-old deaf from Sta. Cruz, Manila who volunteers to teach FSL to fellow deaf, expressed gratitude for the efforts of JWs to produce literature in FSL without any charge.

“Finally, I can read the (gospel of Matthew) in a language that touched my heart,” he said.

“What I like about the video is that the signers are familiar with the deaf culture. I watched one signer who skillfully used facial expressions and body movements which made the translation enjoyable and understandable,” he added, through an interpreter.

Isolated no more

Many deaf people feel isolated and lonely even though they live with their loved ones because their families do not know how to sign, said Jacek who has been teaching Bible in FSL since 1994 with his wife.

These individuals also feel frustrated due to the lack of opportunities to get complete education or to learn FSL.

Jacek said that out of love and concern for the deaf, JWs like him knock on doors to search for deaf people who want to learn the Bible through FSL.

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Since it’s costly to produce videos, he said JWs set up a translation team of unpaid volunteers who are mostly deaf.

TAGS: bible, Jehovah's Witnesses, sign language

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