September 16, 2023

Event Connects Adventist Deaf and Blind from Across Europe

Possibility ministries initiative helps connect and empower scores of participants.

Inter-European Division Possibility Ministries, Inter-European Division, and Adventist Review
On Friday, September 1, participants in the Inter-European Deaf and Blind Congress at Collonges Adventist University visited the nearby Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland. [Photo: Inter-European Division News]

For the first time since 2016, a group of Seventh-day Adventist deaf and blind members from across Europe met together, August 31 to September 4, at Collonges Adventist University in Collonges-sous-Salève, France.

“God blessed these days together on site, so that all participants could go home again on Monday morning [September 4] with a happy and joyful heart,” said one staff member working with Adventist Possibility Ministries, which organized the event.

Meetings were held in the auditorium at Collonges, the Adventist seminary in France. In total, 82 participants attended — 65 of them deaf, 15 translators, and 8 children. Participants hailed from Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Spain, Switzerland, Ukraine, and the United States.

Guest speakers were Jeff Jordan and Douglas Venn from the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists. They unfolded the chosen theme, “In Jesus’s Hands.” And on Friday, September 1, Valerie Dufour added the topic, “Mental Health — How I Can Get It and Keep It.”

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Participants helped created a big rainbow display made with cut-outs of their hands on the side wall. [Photo: Inter-European Division News]

Organizers included EUD director of Adventist Possibility Ministries Rainer Wanitschek and his team.

“The whole team, consisting of Deaf Ministry leaders from the participating countries, deserves great praise and heartfelt thanks for their super cooperation and commitment,” Wanitschek said.

The main theme not only influenced the proclamation, but also the singing and the visual displays. Participants helped create a big rainbow made by cut-outs of their hands on the side wall. They also painted a paper cross on the floor, which, organizers said, created transparency about the proclaimed values around Jesus Christ.

Excursions on Friday afternoon to the nearby Reformation Wall in Geneva, Switzerland, on Saturday (Sabbath) afternoon to the Salève, and on Sunday to Annecy, France, promoted a spirit of unity and strengthened the connections between attendees, organizers said. They added that the accommodation, the food, the support during excursions, and the transport service by the people in charge at Collonges were so pleasant that many participants said they would be open to consider Collonges again for an event of the EUD Adventist Possibility Ministries.

“Once again, a heartfelt thank-you to the staff and people in charge at Collonges,” Wanitschek said. “It was wonderful to be your guests. But [most of all], we thank God for this congress and the fantastic weather that brought joy and wellness to every participant.”

The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-European Division news site.