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Portugal: Deaf Encounter, one step more

Portugal: Deaf Encounter, one step more

"“Deaf people have much to offer to our church if only given an opportunity"

September 12, 2017 | Bern, Switzerland. | C. Cozzi, EUD NEWS.

The 2nd International Adventist training course for sign language interpreters of the Seventh-day Adventist Inter-European Region (EUD) was held in Lisbon, Portugal, from September 1-3, 2017. About 30 participants coming from different European countries, Mexico and the USA, attended the meeting that follows a training program every second year.

Among the presenters were Larry Evans, world ADMI coordinator; Taida Rivero and Bastian Bak, both children of deaf parents and both of whom are now totally engaged to support this ministry; Debora Infante, physical therapist; Isabel Morais, psychologist; and Elsa Cozzi, EUD Children’s Ministry, “because we would like to pay attention also to the children and their families who are living with these challenges,” Cozzi explained.

This kind of training helps the participants, almost all interpreters in the making, to learn about how to improve their performance while developing awareness about certain aspects of the role. These included avoiding health problems that normally arise in interpreters of Sign Language, as well as effects at the psychological level, and understanding various situations that sometimes arise when we do not care, and so on.

 “The greatest challenge we have as deaf facilitators begins in ourselves when we accept to work with, and for, the Church. We are faced with the fact that, through this role, we become more visible and therefore we are more responsible for what we say and do,” Dias affirmed. But it is only after we have an accessible Church that we can think about contacting deaf people and creating bonds of trust with them.

 Taida Rivero disclosed, “What we really need today is a support for deaf persons in the churches.” This means that there is a need for interpreters for the deaf to allow the hundreds of deaf people living in our cities to find a place where they can “hear” a message and be able to “dialogue” with others. But there is also a need for better awareness on how to relate to people that are ‘differently able’.

“To be welcoming toward these people is one of the most important missions that Jesus entrusted to the church when he mentioned them in his first sermon in Nazareth, and that he demonstrated by his constant contact with them all throughout his ministry,” explained Corrado Cozzi, EUD Deaf and Special Need Ministry liaison.

“When I joined this 2nd Deaf Interpreters Training Course, I had not realized that I am already a part of a movement that I believe is the power of the Holy Spirit working through those who, for too long, have been misunderstood, misconceived, mistreated and ‘unheard’: The deaf,” Bastian Bak revealed. “One of the impulses was learning that deaf people have already progressed very far in terms of inclusion, but our Church seems to not be able to keep up with the speed and compassion of the deaf,” Bak continued. He concluded, “I would like this training course to continue with the result that more people get involved in this important ministry, simply because it is a privilege to learn from the deaf and grow in the love of Jesus.”

 “To reach a people group, barriers must be removed wherever possible,” acknowledged Evans. Language is one barrier that can be removed with training. “Communicating with the deaf is the first step towards listening and learning from the deaf,” Evans continued. “Deaf people have much to offer this church if only given an opportunity. We must think possibility rather than problem, possibility rather than disability.” Possible, rather than impossible!  

Leaders must adapt a ‘Can do’ way of thinking.  It is no wonder that Ellen White, prolific American writer, calls this ministry ‘a test of our character.’   

 At the end of the training course, participants expressed satisfaction with the work done: “We were able to put situations into words, to make them clear,” explained Marjorie Chanzy, South France Deaf Liaison. “Sharing resources is reassuring.”

 Portugal is the first country in EUD territory with a young woman who is deaf, Mariana Couto, leading the local Deaf Ministry. “May this be the example that this is the ministry to reach the deaf community autonomously by the deaf themselves, as long as the Church prepares to receive them,” expressed Dias.

 “The work for the deaf is expanding rapidly around the world. It is no secret that of the 70+ million (likely closer to 200+ million), only 2-4% are Christian. There are two desperately urgent needs facing this mission challenge: more interpreters for the deaf and more pastors who can communicate with the deaf.  This training event was needed as part of a larger strategic plan,” concluded Evans.

 ADMI (Adventist Deaf Ministry International) in Europe (https://adventistdeaf.eu) is an organization of the Seventh-day Adventist Church working in favour of the thousands of deaf people that are in contact with the Church (http://www.adventistdeaf.org/)


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