By Pastor Jeff Jordan
“Are you aware of the first division- wide conference on Special Needs Ministries within the IAD (Inter- American Division) territory? Yes, it occurred from June 26 to 30, 2019 in Villahermosa, Tabasco in Mexico.
Elder Larry Evans of the General Conference and I traveled to Mexico and witnessed the historic event. Many representatives from different countries within the IAD territory came, including the Deaf.
Elder Samuel Telemaque, director of Special Needs Ministries for IAD, was the mastermind in pulling this together. IAD president, Elder Elie Henry, gave an opening presentation and shared the vision for his division to be more inclusive and relevant to all members.
During the breakout seminars, I gave a total of four presentations on Deaf ministries, whereas Elder Evans gave presentations separately on Special Needs, which is also known as Possibility Ministries. About twenty-five attendees came to my workshops.
I really appreciate having Harold Molina from Marietta, Georgia, come and serve as my interpreter. The advantage of having him there was his knowledge of three languages: English, Spanish, and ASL. That helped with the communication barriers.
Pictured is a CODA (Child of Deaf Adults) named Taida Rivero who came all the way from Spain. She was the coordinator for Deaf Ministries for Spain Union and she gave a moving testimony about her experience growing up with Deaf parents. It was an eye-opener for many because they didn’t realize the challenges that she had to face as a hearing daughter.
I was thrilled to learn that a Deaf Church in Jamaica is going to be organized into the sisterhood of the Seventh-day Adventist Church! This will be the second organized Deaf Church in IAD territory. Barbados is the first with 60 current members that was organized in 2004. As for the North American Division, Southern Deaf Fellowship is still the only organized church which was organized in 2005. I pray many more will follow.
I was able to visit with a young Deaf guy who is studying to be a pastor for the Deaf at Montemorelos University. He has two years left with his theological studies.