“Preach to every language and people.”This call from Revelation 14:6 was the impetus for the West Russia Union Deaf Congress held at Zaoksky Adventist University May 2-5, 2019.
About 90 delegates took part in the congress, including guests from neighboring countries, and representatives of churches from the entire Euro-Asian division. All the participants, from ministers of the Department for Minorities to Persons with Disabilities (SLOV), deaf church members and hearing sign language interpreters, came to learn and share experiences of how to develop deaf gospel ministry in their cities.
Paul Liberansky, head of the Ministry to People with Disabilities for the Euro-Asian Division; Larry Evans, assistant to the president for Special Needs Ministries at the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists; and Jeff Jordan, a hearing-impaired pastor serving the deaf community in the United States, spoke at the congress.
“This is the third Gospel forum for the deaf in Western Russia. It is a joy to see progress in this ministry,” says Sergey Grigorash, promoting service to people with disabilities in the West Russia Union. “It is gratifying that there are more and more deaf people in the Adventist communities of Russia. So, the Moscow Deaf Group, created on the basis of the Khimki community of the Moscow association, was added to the only Tula church for the deaf. We are learning to understand each other better, and sign language interpreters are appearing in the communities. The evidence of this is the first Health Exhibition for the Deaf, which was held by the deaf delegates of the congress themselves.”
During the congress, delegates discussed opening a sign language interpreter school. Eight people immediately said they would enroll in the future school program. In addition, 12 delegates agreed to participate in filming the “Cognize the Truth” program on the Nadezhda TV channel, translating Sabbath School lessons as sign language interpreters. Translation of the USG commentary into sign language will expand the channel’s audience.
Congress participants shared their experiences of serving: how to teach Bible truth to the deaf, create deaf clubs based on common interests, teach cooking classes, form health groups and plan Christian summer camps. The next annual health camp for the deaf will be held this summer in Yalta, in the Crimea.
The Church takes care of people with disabilities and spares no resources in order to promote their spiritual growth and personal development, teaching them to take care of their health and receive joy from serving their neighbors.
The West Russia Union hopes that this congress will be an effective impetus for this type of ministry development in different cities and countries around the world.