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Translation to Thai Sign Language – Cassie

Author: David Davolt
Published on: December 3, 2020

At BBC, my eyes were opened to the wisdom, beauty, and truth of God’s Word, His heart for the nations, the perfect goodness of His plans for His people, and what it looks like to live a faithful life. Those truths have stayed with me over the years and helped shape how I perceive both life and ministry.

Cassie

NOTE: To protect Cassie’s identity, please do not tag her on Social Media and be careful how you share her information.

Cassie grew up as part of a homeschool family in Boise, with her parents and four siblings, living what she calls an idyllic life of swimming, shooting, hiking, camping, hunting, and fishing. They ate home-cooked meals, and every couple of days her dad would say, “It’s been a while since you made cookies, hasn’t it?” and out would come the butter and sugar. Her mom often read aloud to them, sometimes going all day. Not until later did Cassie realize what a blessing her childhood was.

She felt called to missions at age 16 but didn’t know how to become a missionary. One day though, a co-worker, who also worked at Boise Bible College, gave her a ride home from work. When she heard Cassie was interested in missions, she shared that BBC had just started a 4-year missions major. Before the week was over, Cassie had her application filled out.

At BBC, Cassie was struck by the gentle humility of the professors and their faithfulness to Christ. They not only taught the Word but lived it out tangibly before the students.

Cassie remembers one day when an accrediting official sat in on Dale Cornett’s Greek class as part of their evaluation. Afterward, he commented that he wished his Greek classes had been as interesting and the professor as engaging. Cassie agreed; Mr. Cornett made Greek one of her favorite classes. It would also serve her well when she moved overseas and began working in Bible translation.

Cassie graduated from BBC in 2010 with a BA. She went on to obtain a MA in linguistics from Payap University in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

In Bible translation, God brought together Cassie’s upbringing, education, adventurous spirit, and her love for languages. She now works alongside national Deaf teams who are translating the Bible into Thai Sign Language – one of over 400 unique sign languages used by Deaf communities around the world. These teams, and others like them, are bringing the Bible to the Deaf for the first time in their own languages.

Many deaf individuals grow up feeling isolated. They are surrounded by hearing people speaking in languages they cannot hear or cannot hear well. Those who are able to learn a sign language and join the local Deaf community most often find in it their first sense of belonging. These communities are knit together by the beautiful and unique languages which allow them to nurture relationships and share information. Cassie is one of many individuals and organizations around the world who are passionate about bringing the Good News of God’s love to the Deaf in these languages – the ones that speak the most clearly to their hearts.

When not checking translation drafts, Cassie likes running, playing badminton, and trying her hand at sewing, cooking, and baking.

Personally, Cassie continues to grow in the Lord. She relates a story she heard about a woman who was given a Bible that had been translated into her language. When asked later if she had been reading it, she replied, “No. It has been reading me.” Cassie feels like that – as she tries to draw closer to God, He keeps revealing more to her about herself. She is grateful for His patience and faithfulness. He never leaves us where we are but continuously works to conform us into Christ’s image, even when the conforming is painful. She cites Hebrews 12:1-15.

Due to COVID, Cassie has had to return to the United States. Through technology, though, she has been able to continue to work with the teams remotely. During the day, she reviews the signed translation drafts from the teams. Since sign languages are visual languages, these drafts (and the final products) are in video format instead of in text form. In the evenings, she visits with the teams by video chat to go over any questions and discuss possible revisions.

Cassie shares her thoughts on the values of Boise Bible College:

Scholarship – a gift when Christ is at the center. As English speakers, we have an incredible wealth of resources available to us – both theological and biographical. The theological ones help us to think more deeply and see more richly. The biographical ones testify to the power, presence, and providence of God in the lives of His people.

Humility – I think this is the most priceless of attributes. Pride says I can do it; humility sees God has done it. In relation to other people, pride assumes incompetence and need. Humility recognizes people as individuals that God has gifted and equipped for His calling.

Community – we are blind and lame saints without it. Blind because we do not see our own weaknesses or beyond our own ideas. Lame because we cannot love those we never encounter. Saints because it is much easier to be saintly in isolation.

Innovation – innovation just to innovate may or may not be useful. It may be motivated more by culture than Christ. At the same time, traditional approaches may also be rooted more in culture than in Christ. It leads to a healthy tension – new ideas making us question the old, old ideas making us question the new, submitting both to the authority and perfect wisdom of Christ.

To anyone considering Bible college, Cassie offers these thoughts:

“In the years to come, you will be perpetually faced with other ‘gods’ and other ‘truths’ that will vie for your heart and your mind. Having your feet firmly set upon the Word and your eyes fixed on Christ is vital. I personally found that grounding at BBC, where I was blessed to learn from the professors and students what it is to honor God and His Word.” 

You might like to check out Deaf Bible in Thai and the YouTube Channel TBS THSL to see the type of work Cassie is involved in.

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