A historic event occurred in the country of Ghana, Africa, the weekend of April 14, 2018. A graduation ceremony for those learning Ghanaian Sign Language was performed at Valley View University (VVU), an Adventist owned higher education institute, which is located near Accra, the capital city.
The South Ghanaian Union Conference leadership, which is led by Elder Alfred Asiam, caught the vision in reaching out to the Deaf and those with special needs by sharing the good news about Jesus. Because of his vision, GSL classes were developed and taught in various locations within the Union territory.
Many hearing from the communities felt impressed to learn the language so that they could make friends with the local Deaf and bring hope into their lives. VVU has offered classes in learning GSL to about 80 nursing students. (Southern Adventist University in Collegedale, TN, USA, is the only Adventist university in NAD that offers four levels of American Sign Language and the students earn credits for graduation.) The other locations where the GSL classes were offered were taught by several instructors. There was a group of about 12 that came all the way down from a city, seven hours away, just to participate with the graduation ceremony. Thompson Kay, interpreter and lecturer, and I were invited to participate with the historic event at VVU. On the opening day, four topics were presented: I presented on the topic of “Ministering to the Deaf”, two presentations were presented by Thompson Kay on “Ministering to the Blind” and “What is the Sign Language Interpreters’ Role in Ministry?” And finally, a topic was given on “Mental Health”, by a local professional.
For church service on Sabbath, I challenged the audience to make a difference in Service for God as Thompson Kay voice interpreted for me. A local Deaf group of about 20 joined us for worship. In the evening, the graduation ceremony took place. Representing the General Conference, for Elder Larry Evans, I gave a short speech of encouragement. A total of 113 hearing GSL learners received their certificate of completion according to their level. There were five different levels from beginning, to advanced, to interpreting. About ten completed their training in interpreting.
After the ceremony, a braille machine for the Blind was dedicated to the Lord. This machine is much needed in Ghana because the Bible and other reading materials can now be printed in braille so that the Blind can read. A young man who is blind came to the dedication and he read a Bible passage in braille.
The following day, Sunday, we had an opportunity to visit a School for the Deaf, founded by an African-American Deaf educator named Andrew Foster. (Thompson Kay was so excited after learning that this is the exact school that Andrew founded years ago!) It currently has about 450 students and 35 teachers, 13 of them deaf. One of the Deaf teachers is an Adventist and he currently teaches Bible every Sabbath to interested students. The House parent is also an Adventist.
One of the buildings on the school campus is designed for deaf-blind students. They have about thirteen
students. Elder Asiam and his team did an outstanding job in organizing the special event. They are planning on having another graduation ceremony in two years. To God be the glory!
Report by Deaf Pastor Jeff Jordan, Collegedale, TN, USA