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Empowering the Deaf through Sign Language Interpretation

Imagine a church service where speaking is not allowed even for the one preaching. No choirs needed. There won’t even be a scripture reading. Everyone is required to be silent.

December 2018 |

 

By Worthy Habla
Many would probably keel over not being able to talk to

their friends in church. Maybe others would raise a ruckus in protest. After all, what kind of fellowship would that be if people could not speak?

Yet it was the fellowship that happened last June 9, 2018, as a full Deaf Sabbath School and Divine Worship service took place at the Theological Seminary Chapel of the Adventist International Institute of Advanced Studies (AIIAS), Silang, Cavite. The service was a part of the first Sign Language Interpreter’s Accreditation and Certification Seminar sponsored by the Adventist Deaf Ministry International – Philippines and in cooperation with the Pasay Adventist Church. Seventeen (17) Seventh-day Adventist sign language interpreters from all over the country came to attend the seminar from June 8 to 10, 2018.

The aim of the event was to certify Adventist sign language interpreters in order for them to interpret in official and formal functions and be recognized nationally by the deaf community. Sign language is the language commonly used by the deaf community and it is the only way for them to connect with the hearing community. In churches dominated by the hearing, the only means for the deaf to understand and appreciate the message is through an interpreter. An interpreter could be anyone who has some understanding of the sign language. However, informal or official functions, only an interpreter accredited by the deaf community would be allowed to interpret. Currently, there are no Adventist interpreters who are officially recognized by any deaf organization until today.

During the event, interpreters from Pasay, Pasig, Marikina, Las Pinas, Cavite, Mindoro and even as far as Mindanao including members of the SULADS missionary group attended the 3-day seminar conducted by the husband and wife tandem, Pastor Julius and Sister May Andrada. The topics ranged from Bible signs, interpreting songs, sermons, and reverse interpretation. The seminar ended with an accreditation exam conducted by members from the Philippine Association of Interpreters for Deaf Empowerment (PAIDE).

On that Sabbath Day, more than 20 deaf members of Pasay Adventist Church took the time to travel from Pasay Adventist Church to AIIAS to attend the Sabbath worship with their interpreters from all over the country. The guest speaker was Pastor Julius Andrada, a deaf pastor of the Capitol City Baptist Church Deaf Ministry in West Ave., Quezon City. Pastor Julius was born deaf and was raised in a Seventh-day Adventist family during a time when the ministry had not been realized and there were little to no efforts to reach out to the deaf community. It was a struggle for him to relate to the sermons and to fellowship with the brethren in his local church in Iloilo. As he grew up and began studying in Manila, he found a Christian deaf community, formed a family with two children and heard God’s call to be a pastor. Yet while serving in a different denomination, he has been praying for a time when the Seventh-day Adventist Church would finally open its doors to the deaf community where he belongs. The past decade has been an answer to his prayers.

The Adventist Deaf Ministry in the Philippines began in Pasay Adventist Church in 2009 led by Lychel Gabuco and her family with the Andrada couple serving as consultants in starting the ministry. Through its various programs, the ministry aims to spiritually nurture our deaf brethren, provide emotional and psychological support through fellowship, and create an awareness and sensitivity to their needs within the church. Currently, there have been several churches in Metro Manila who are sponsoring an Adventist Deaf Ministry. The ministry has also spread to various parts of the country and is still undergoing a lot of growth and development.

Continue to pray for this and more developments in the DeafMinistry.

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