Report by Pastor Jeff Jordan
Exciting things are happening with the Deaf Ministries in the country of Indonesia. The ministry to the Deaf and other special groups of people have just started a couple of years ago there.
Elder Larry Evans and I arrived at the capital city of Jakarta on Friday, the 14th of February, 2020, and we were picked up by Elder Jimmy Havelaar, director of Adventist Possibility Ministries (APM) for the West Indonesia Union Mission.
Lychel Gabuco, a Gospel Outreach worker for the Deaf in the Philippines, also flew in to be with us. I’ve known her and her family (her sister is deaf) as I’ve been to the Philippines several times to help with the Deaf work. Lychel came to serve as my ASL interpreter. The Deaf in Indonesia do not sign ASL, but their own language is called Indonesian Sign Language.
Their Indonesian deaf leader is Deicy Wenas- a woman of vision and who has a high passion in seeing the Deaf be reached for Jesus.
The next day on Sabbath, we were taken to a large Adventist church and we met a group of about 12 Deaf, mostly newly baptized, and are members of a recently formed Company. While Elder Evans was giving a Sabbath sermon to the packed church, I was taken aside to a large hearing Sabbath School class so I took the opportunity to educate them about Deaf.
After a delicious Indonesian potluck luncheon and fellowship, the Deaf and hearing members returned for the afternoon program. Elder Evans and I, along with Elder Havelaar, spent about three hours presenting on deafness and other ‘Possibilities Groups’ of people. This continued on to the next day as we presented the messages of hope to the general community.
My team and I later flew to central Java and spent three days there. We went to a Mission headquarters and conducted seminars on Possibility Ministries to over 100 pastors and church leaders. It was an eye-opener for many of them and I am very encouraged with their enthusiasm in reaching all types of people for Jesus. Visiting an Amazing Facts School of Evangelism and an Adventist orphanage was also included on this trip.
With the extra time we had on the way to the airport, we stopped by to see one of the seven wonders of Indonesia. Prambanan Temple is the largest Hindu temple in SE Asia and it was built in the 9th century.
Our team then flew to Balikpapan on the island of Borneo where the orangutans live. No, we didn’t get to see them because they are far out in the jungle in central Borneo. Anyway, we went to the Mission and had a special service in launching another new Company for the Deaf! It is called Efata which means “Be Opened.” (Later, I was told that a third Company for the Deaf was recently formed in another city!) May God be praised.
The church leaders have caught the vision of reaching the Deaf and bringing them into the family of God by starting new churches for them. They are aiming to have at least one Deaf church/company in all conferences and missions. I would love to see this happen in every conference everywhere!
The Georgia-Cumberland Conference is the only Conference in NAD that has an organized Deaf Church, and that is Southern Deaf Fellowship. May God be praised! But should we be satisfied with just one church for the Deaf and one pastor who is Deaf? I think not. There are millions of Deaf people and they need a church home. So I think having one Deaf church/company in each conference is a good place to start with the Deaf Ministry. With God, all things are possible.
My team and I went to a hotel the next day and presented motivational seminars to the general Deaf community and the special group of people. Many non-Adventist came and they were encouraged with hope. It was a good way for them to see what the Adventist Church was doing.
On Sabbath, we had a worship service at another hotel and it was packed full as Elder Evans gave a sermon. After lunch, we had a three-hour APM (Adventist Possibility Ministries) awareness program at the mission church. I shared my life story as a Deaf person and how God has led me to become involved with the Deaf ministry as I am currently doing today.
In conclusion we quote Deicy’s description of Deaf in South Sumatra.
“It’s really a touching moment when we met deaf people there, most of them couldn’t sign, couldn’t read and write, couldn’t communicate, so pitifully left behind.”
Elder Wesley Szamko, a Director of Adventist Mission for the Division, is solidly behind this thrust in Deaf Ministry. He used to be a pastor in the Alberta Conference and has seen deaf work in progress in the Alberta Conference of SDA. He is interested in assisting from his department as funds are available!