In a unique and possibly first event for the South Pacific Division (SPD) church region, a Seventh-day Adventist Church deaf and mute pastor was guest speaker at an Australian Deaf Camp on the last weekend of October.
Addressing the 25 deaf attendees in American Sign Language (ASL), Jeff Jordan, pastor of the Deaf Church in Collegedale, Tennessee, United States, delivered his message in a three-step process: first in signed ASL, which was simultaneously translated into spoken English by his wife, Melissa, and then finally into Auslan, the language of deaf Australians.
His theme was “Does God Hear the Deaf?” The camp was held at the historic Catalina Convention Centre, on the shore of Lake Macquarie, near Avondale College of Higher Education, the Adventist-managed educational institution in New South Wales.
While he was in Australia, Jordan also spoke to Avondale theology students, encouraging them to recognize the need to reach this people group —the deaf— which according to some estimations, number some 300 million worldwide. Of those, only 1 to 3 percent are Christian, with even fewer being Seventh-day Adventist. It is the world’s largest “unreached” people group.
Logan Reserve Adventist Church, in Queensland, Australia, sponsored the camp, and New Hope Church in Sydney’s west, which livestreams Auslan translations on Sabbaths, are the only churches in the South Pacific Division region catering to the deaf.
“If our pastors were to preach with the same animation and enthusiasm as our deaf signers, I’m sure they would hold their audiences much better!” said manager of Christian Services for the Blind and Hearing Impaired (CSFBHI) Lee Dunstan.
Dunstan encouraged anyone with deafness or who has someone with deafness in their family to contact him and connect with the group, and to join them for the next camp in 2018.
“The deaf are isolated, alone, and, oh so lonely,” he said. “They are sorely in need of friendship and companionship, and this is a great way for them to meet and find fellowship.”
CSFBHI also provides closed-captioning for Adventist Media video products for the deaf, while for the blind, it has a large lending library of denominational and spiritual audio books.
Link to a 40-second video of Jordan "speaking" at the camp: