April 30, 2014

​Braille Reader’s Club learn to Read Braille Using Adventist Fundamental Beliefs Book

By Dexter Thomas

Every week, a secular organization
for the blind, located in West Palm Beach, Florida, hosts an educational
ministry—the West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club—where visually challenged
adults learn to read braille using the 28 fundamental beliefs of Adventism as
their study materials.

Dexter Thomas, Florida Conference
Disabilities Coordinator, designed the curriculum with the help of members from
several local churches. Because of its brevity and simplicity, Dexter used the
children’s version of the 28 fundamental beliefs as the basis of the study

Dexter Thomas, second from left, has a doctor of ministry degree and teaches a braille class at West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club. “Visually impaired individuals are accustomed to people rushing by and feeling lonely in a sighted world,” he said. “When we reached out to them, we were able to bring confidence and assurance that there are still people in the world who care.” (Photo: William Verdekal)Each lesson highlights one of the
fundamental beliefs to illustrate a braille concept. He explains one of the
many contractions in braille, then the students read a fundamental belief to
see how it uses the contraction. “Blind individuals improve their braille
literacy and, at the same time, learn these precious biblical truths,” said
Thomas, who is blind.

Every bit as important as the
lessons is the fellowship. “We advertised our free braille classes as a fun and
exciting learning experience with food, friendship, and fellowship,” said
Thomas. “The food and fellowship doesn’t only attract the visually challenged.
It also attracts their caregivers and other church members who create a warm,
nonthreatening ministry environment.”

Five local Adventist congregations
staff the West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club: First Church of West Palm
Beach, Communities West Church in Loxahatchee, Palm Springs Church of West Palm
Beach, South Palm Company of Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach Church. The
generosity of members in these churches has also funded the braille books used
in the sessions.

Thomas would like to see these
Braille Readers’ Clubs formed in communities throughout Florida. It is
surprisingly easy to run such a club. The church receives a manual that
explains how to organize and run a Club, and the church provides volunteers and

“Our prayer is for such a ministry
to spread throughout the conference. Churches can partner with the disabled and
their families for their wholeness, and give them a foretaste of the
unconditional love and acceptance we will all experience in the earth made
new,” said Thomas.