It was an amazing experience: Two hundred-thirty deaf, deaf-blind and hearing met in Seville, Spain for the International Congress for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind. Attendees came from 15 countries mostly from the Inter-European Division which was the host division but individuals and groups also came from South America, Inter-America, United States, Korea, Latvia and Poland. Nine different languages were interpreted (the term used for sign language as contrasted with translated).
The theme for the congress was "Through My Hands"—a very fitting theme for a deaf congress. The event was held in Seville, Spain May 13-15. The General Conference Special Needs Ministries assisted with some of the financial expenses.
The congress featured spiritually inspired sermons presented by the deaf for the deaf but relayed in audible English for those who were hearing. A large portion of the time was giving to touring historical and religious sites in Seville and Cordoba. How ironic that the congress should be held in a city that generations ago during the Spanish Inquisition oppression for one’s belief resulted in torture and death – of course, all for “good reasons.”
To the contrary, this congress, sought to liberate and restore meaning to those who are so often marginalized. They spiritual gifts, intellectual insights and compassion for others to share. We have so much to learn from the Deaf culture. Symbolically this was a perfect place to hold this special international event.
The grand finale was a Broadway type musical featuring biblical characters with both verbal and sign language. The leaders from the Inter-European Division were Corrado Cozzi and Taida Rivero. However, working with them was a large host of individuals who helped make this happen.
This congress is but a sample of things to come. It is anticipated that the General Conference will host a world congress for the Deaf and Deaf-Blind in 2019. The venue is yet to be determined. The vision is spreading – not only for the Deaf but for the blind, those with physical and mental limitations as well as for the orphans of the world.
The new General Conference ministry, called Special Needs Ministries, recently voted a new motto: “All are gifted, needed, and treasured!” This is not a program. It is the beginning of a global people movement that is releasing the giftedness of those who have been quieted, shunned and marginalized far too long. Join the movement.