- John Issler
- Judith and Les Oslund
- Robert Hareil
- Ivan Babcock
- Leona Thomas
- Arthur Griffith
- John and Alberta Blake
- Mini Camp Meetings for the Deaf at Hope, BC
- Alberta Camp Meetings:
- Gospel Outreach (GO)
- Expanding Beyond Canada
As far as we know, SDA Deaf Ministry in Canada has a much shorter time span than in the USA. Canada’s begins in the late 1940’s whereas the USA goes back to around 1881 with Ellen White writing about Brother Kimball. The early Canadian work mostly centers around a number of key deaf people across Canada. It was not until after 1974 when Blake’s moved to BC, that there was any formal organized work for Deaf in Canada. So, to begin this historical account we will touch on the lives of the first known SDA Deaf in Canada.
NOTE: With two Canadians being the basic authors of both the USA and Canadian “History”, we perhaps risk the accusation of having a ‘vested interest’ in the report and giving too much from our own involvement in Deaf Ministry. But, in the total picture of SDA Deaf History, we feel that this phase of the history also needs to be told. At first we thought to include the Canadian History with the USA history, but on further thought, decided to write each separately. Since Blake’s were involved in the USA, for a time at the Christian Deaf Center, and have been involved with the USA office of Gospel Outreach, there will be some duplication between the USA and Canadian historical accounts.
John Issler was from Ontario, married in 1944, went to school at Canadian Union College [now Burman University] near Lacombe, Alberta, and graduated from theology in 1948. Apparently John did not get a direct call to ministerial work. However, John had seen a need in taking the Three Angel’s Messages to the Deaf. He could see that he would not be employed by the Conference to specialize in this ministry, so he decided to sell our SDA books directly to the Deaf. We are told that he gradually worked his way from Ontario to British Columbia, searching for Deaf and seeking to sell them our books.
After he had completed his work in BC, he went across the border to the USA. Probably, he canvassed his way down the coast. We know that he ended up in southern California and remained there the rest of his life. Part of this time he canvassed. For a time he worked officially as a pastor for Deaf with the White Memorial church. He also worked with Loma Linda Foods in the sale of soy milk for babies. In the USA Basic SDA History section, we outline various developments that Issler was involved in with advocating for the Deaf with the General Conference.
Judith and Les Oslund
Not long after John Issler passed through Alberta canvassing his way across Canada, a little girl, Judith, was born to the Oslund family in the Ryley area. Her mother, Beulah, was an Adventist, but her father was not. The family did not know how to sign, and when it was necessary, at 7 years old, for Judith to go to school, complications came and instead of going to the Deaf school in Sask., it was decided that she needed to go all the way across Canada to Montreal. There was a special train car set aside for deaf students
with a lady in charge who could sign. Judith was put on the train, but did not really know what was happening or where she was going. She thought her parents did not love her and were sending her away. Since at Christmas,
the government did not send the children home all the way to Alberta, the Oslunds went to Montreal to be with Judith for Christmas. Judith learned to sign and continued on in school becoming a secretary in a government office in Edmonton, Alberta.
However, as she grew older, there was no signing in any Edmonton SDA churches, and Judith really did not know that much about Adventist beliefs. However, signed meetings were held in Edmonton and Judith was baptized in 1987. In following years she often attended the Edmonton South Church where Judy McKay or Connie Goltz would interpret for her.
Judy’s brother Les was 13 years younger, was also deaf and when he was ready for school he was sent to Edmonton for a hard of hearing program. Les stayed in a private home. Not long after, he changed to the Alberta School for the Deaf – also in Edmonton. At the deaf school, Les developed a close friendship with Paul Kelly. Les shared his beliefs with Paul. When Paul went on to Gallaudet University (for the Deaf) in Washington, DC, he there found a number of SDA deaf friends. He later married an SDA deaf lady and worked as a pastor in both Seattle and Rochester, NY. Though ordained to the gospel ministry in the SDA church, much of the time, Elder Paul Kelly has had to support himself. Currently he is a teacher of Deaf in the Rochester area where he lives in 2018.
Back to our story with Les Oslund: Les read in the Junior Guide the story of Sandi Pifer, one of deaf SDA twins in the Eastern USA. He wrote her, they courted, and married in about 1979. For many years Les worked at the SDA College Furniture Factory in Lacombe, AB. Unfortunately Les and Sandy eventually broke up as their two children matured, and Les left the Adventist faith.
Somewhere in the first half of the 1950’s, a deaf brother, Robert Hartfeil, met a teenager at the SW corner of the main auditorium at the BC Conference campground at Hope, BC. Robert had a little pad of paper, and they wrote back and forth. Robert was married to
an SDA lady and ultimately they had three girls. At one point, Robert worked as a colporteur selling SDA books from door to door. During that camp meeting, little did that teenager, John Blake (writing this now!), from Langley, BC, dream that some day he and his wife (Alberta) would have a deaf daughter of their own, and about 20 years later, that Pastor Blake would be Robert and Olga Hartfeil’s pastor when for a time the Hartfeil’s lived in Crescent Valley, BC., and
Blake was pastoring the Trail-Nelson-Grand Forks district. Even when the Hartfeil’s moved back to the Fraser Valley, and Robert became too old to get to the Deaf Mini-camp meeting at Hope, the deaf group would go and meet with Robert and his wife in the Chilliwack area!
Robert was one of the first deaf SDA’s in Canada that we know about. He was so faithful in attending church year after year with his wife and most of the time there was no one to interpret for him. Blake remembers in 1976 taking his little family, with Robert, to the only USA Camp Meeting for the Deaf ever held in Utah. On the way down, they got a motel room with a small extra bedroom for Robert. Blake had to open Robert’s bedroom door to tell him about plans for the morning. ( Knocking would not get Robert to come to the door, so Blake had to open it – unannounced! ) There was Robert, kneeling, eyes closed signing his nightly prayer – completely unaware of Blake’s presence. This precious scene remains in Blake’s memory to this day!
A Maritime Canadian deaf pioneer is Ivan Babcock from the Dartmouth SDA church. Blake’s pastored this church from 1973-1974. Babcock ran a little shop called the “Appliance Doctor” where he fixed small home appliances. We think that he became an SDA through literature sold to him by an SDA colporteur by the name of Bennet.
After leaving the Dartmouth district, Blake’s maintained contact. Twice Babcock flew out to visit Blake’s. However by then, Babcock had gradually lost most of his sight and was also legally blind. On the first visit, it was extremely difficult for both Babcock and Blake’s as he had to feel their signs with his hands. When they got to the Milo Camp meeting, Babcock wore headphones as he still had a slight amount of hearing. Babcock also felt the signs as someone signed for him. Between the two modes of communication, he got something meaningful. Several urged him strongly that he must learn braille – which he did. On his second visit to Blake’s, he had learned braille and the world had opened up to him in a new and wonderful way! He could now read the Bible and study the Sabbath School lessons, etc., as supplied by the Christian Record.
Another deaf person in NE Alberta, Leona Thomas, became a member through a kind SDA neighbor. The neighbour helped her to do a set of the Voice of Prophecy correspondence school lessons. The neighbour may also have given her a copy of the Great Controversy. Leona was baptized in 1970 at the Beauvallon church by Elder Uniat. Her husband, Harry, also became a member. Leona used to attend church regularly. Sometimes a relative would do their best to interpret for her. Sometimes the local church would hire a professional interpreter. She was a regular attendee at the Alberta Camp meeting – usually sleeping in her van. She loved to visit with people and would make her rounds, not only at camp meeting, but visiting both members and relatives over hundreds of miles (kilometers). She also became a friend of Dr. Una Underwood, and visited various places with Dr. Una – including China.
Leona’s Bible is very well underlined and she loved to read. She also appreciated the many Adventist videos made available to her. She was a financial supporter of Adventist work for Deaf and in her Legacy specified a portion to go for Ministry to Deaf.
[Though Arthur lived the majority of his life in the USA, we include the Canadian part of his story here in the Canadian section as he lived for 18 years in Canada from 2-20 years old.]
When he was two years old in 1922, Arthur Griffith’s parents moved from the USA to the Peace River area of Alberta. He grew up on a farm with very simple pioneer conditions. His parents were both SDA and Arthur was raised as an SDA. Being somewhat isolated, they would have SS at home.
However, a personal crisis came for Arthur at the age of seven. After getting a chill, he got what he calls “La Grippe”, and that matured into spinal meningitis. His baby brother also got it, and died, but Arthur survived. He learned later that when he appeared to be ‘dying’, his father went out behind the
woodpile praying earnestly for him and promising the Lord that from then on “I will follow all the light I know.” God heard, and saved Arthur. But something was wrong.
Arthur tells that after his sickness he asked his mother, “Why don’t you talk to me anymore?” His mother turned away, but he could tell by her shoulders shaking that she was crying. Gradually he realized that he was now totally Deaf.
At the age of 10, Arthur was first sent away to a school for the Deaf in Winnipeg. But, looking back on it, he could see that it was a challenge for him spiritually. Arthur said that even back then that there was “perversion” at the school in 1930! Later, Arthur transferred to Vancouver, BC, to attend the Jericho Hill School for the Deaf, graduating from the 8th grade with very high marks – at the age of 18. He then took night classes at the Vancouver Technical school in Auto.
At the age of 17, Arthur was baptized, and at the age of 20 left home to work in Illinois. After some interesting work experiences there, he moved with his hearing brother to Oregon.
Many years later, Art and Alyce did make one trip into Canada with their motor home and visited in Saskatchewan and even out on Vancouver Island in BC. We believe in Sask they worked with Bryan and Marlene Volk. On Vancouver Island, we understand that they visited with a Mrs. Pusnik who had attempted to work with Deaf in the Victoria area.
Since most of the balance of Arthur’s life was in the USA, we will include his experiences with the church and Deaf Ministry – in the USA historical section. But, we will remember that 18 of his 20 formative years were experienced in Canada!
John and Alberta Blake
In 1968 Blake’s had a daughter, Judy, that three months after birth got a serious case of chicken pox. Her temperature became dangerously high leaving her almost stone deaf. By nine months, the family had it confirmed, with a brain scan, that Judy might hear the rhythm of sound, but was profoundly Deaf.
Blake’s wondered why God might have allowed this. Gradually they came to the conclusion that maybe God wanted them to become involved in Ministry to Deaf as John was already pastoring in New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, Canada. But – how could John train?
They discovered that a program was just being started at the Inter-Provincial Deaf school in Amherst for the training of teachers of the Deaf. Perhaps that was a way to train. John applied, and so did his wife, Alberta, who already had taught in a church school in BC. Blake’s were rather shocked when Alberta was accepted, with only a two year teacher training diploma, and John rejected with an M.A. in Religious Education from Andrew’s University. It seemed that the new director for the program, Ann Kennedy, was not anxious to have someone in her first class who really did not want to teach as a profession.
Blake’s deaf daughter, Judy, ended up as a student at the Inter-Provincial school, while her mother, Alberta, took the one year course. This helped the whole family, with their two hearing children, Joan and Jean, to start learning sign language. Gradually Blake’s became involved with the Deaf, though mainly to start – with parents of the Deaf.
In 1973 they took a little deaf boy, David, as a foster child and Alberta began working educationally with both Judy and David. In 1974 Blake’s got a call to move and pastor in the Trail/Grand Forks area in B.C. There Alberta began teaching both Judy and David in ‘Home School” in cooperation with the local Trail church school.
In the 1970’s, Blake’s were very concerned to see an SDA deaf school start in North America. Many letters were written to the General Conference of SDA and tentative plans started to be made for a school, but when the GC leaders looked at the huge costs of a ‘boarding school’, they felt that it was just too costly, and the plan died.
In 1977 Blake’s moved to Hope, BC, where for two years John joined the crew in building the new SDA camp meeting location. While at Hope, from 1977-78 Alberta Blake joined with her sister, Edna Reimche, in starting a school for the Deaf in buildings at the new camp ground. However, the attempt failed when Edna got married and chose to no longer teach. Blake’s also found it too difficult to have a student in the home 24/7 and also be “teacher”.
Two years passed at Hope and Blake’s moved to McBride, BC. were John returned to pastoring. Alberta continued her plan of having the two deaf children work at home on the more difficult subjects. She then worked part time with them at the local church school in classes that were easier to combine with both Deaf and Hearing students.
In 1982 Blake’s deaf children were now 12 & 14 years and an opportunity came for them to join with the already established ‘Christian Deaf Center’ [CDC] in Arkansas. This three year period is covered in the section on CDC in the USA section.
In 1985 Blake’s returned to Canada while Pastor Blake’s father helped support the family as John worked to set up a formal ministry to Deaf in the Alberta Conference. Judy took a few classes at Parkland SDA Academy and David went to the Alberta government deaf school in Edmonton.
During the next two years, Blake’s taught sign language on both the high school and college level at Canadian University College, now Burman University. They tackled producing a public cable TV program for the Deaf called, “Deaf Family Magazine”. They succeeded in getting 8 programs on cable in both Edmonton and Calgary and on the new SDA satellite network, 3ABN. They also had a Family Life Seminar Program with Thompson Kay in Edmonton, and a cooking class for Deaf. They worked to have two full series of evangelistic meetings in Edmonton interpreted for the Deaf.
In 1988, George Belser came up from the Portland area and had a series of meetings just for Deaf at Coralwood Academy, but not many Deaf came. While Belser was in Alberta, they produced a sample IIW type TV program for Deaf which was really appreciated when shown at the Milo Camp meeting for the Deaf. This experimental program was patterned like the It is Written TV program.
However, Pastor Blake was quite disappointed with the overall results of his two years devoted to Deaf Ministry. It seamed unrealistic to ask the Conference to support him full time. He hesitated to ask his father for any more sponsorship. So, Blake’s returned to regular pastoral work for the Hearing for the next seven years.
In 1994 John inherited funds which allowed them to do part-time work for the Deaf. In 1998 Blake’s moved to Lacombe where John combined pastoral and Deaf Ministry through to his retirement at the end of 2005. During this time John became highly involved in video programs for the Deaf taping a full ‘live’ series in 1999 with Pastor and Mrs. Jeff Jordan in Marietta, GA. Blake’s also worked with another full video series with Edgemont Video in a made-up studio in Clinton, Ark. Here Elder David Trexler did the basic sermons with his son Arthur as voice interpreter. Following each lecture, Esther Doss would interview Elder Trexler. Esther would ask important questions about what Trexler had just covered in his sermon.
In 1998, Blakes worked with an Evangelistic Series in Vancouver BC with Pastor Jeff Jordan. Jordan had earlier come up to help with a special deaf ministry weekend in Toronto, but by the time he graduated from the Seminary, still had no call. The BC Conference made a small budget available for this 1998 series in Vancouver in the same building and at the same time as Elder Leo Schreven. Ravi Couglan had been a strong influence with several deaf and at the end of the meetings three deaf were baptized: Terese Rognmo, Greg Greenwood and Lorraine Lam.
Blake’s also made several trips to Toronto to try and develop deaf work there. This climaxed in 2000 with a full evangelistic series for the Deaf with presenter, David Trexler. This was held in the same building as Elder Bradford’s Pre- General Conference city-wide evangelistic series just before the 2000 General Conference Session. Just before the evangelistic meetings, David and Francisca did a family life program at the Bob Rumball Center. Elder Paul Kelly worked to follow up this series by coming up every other week from his home in New York State. However, as a full time high school teacher, Kelly could not keep this up, so dropped it to once a month. But, little visible long term results remained. It was hard to keep interest up coming only once a month.
During one of Blake’s trips to Toronto, Thompson Kay had came up from the USA and also had a program at the Bob Rumball Center. On Sabbath Kay had a meeting with those interested in SDA Deaf Ministry. Blakes made several trips to Toronto which had culminated in the 2000 Trexler evangelistic series. Since that time, there has been no further major attempts to expand Deaf Ministry in Toronto. There continues to be some involvement with the Harmony church where Nigel and Ruby Persaud have been involved. We understand that there is a new interest developing in Deaf Ministry in Ontario in 2018. The Conference “Compassion Ministry” Director, Elder Theodore Sargeant, is on the Canadian Union Conference “Compassion Ministry Committee” and has a serious interest in seeing Deaf Ministry grow in Ontario.
Blake set up a web site for Deaf Ministry [www.deafhope.org], and continued with different video productions. One was done by Elder Alfred Griffith using Dr. Neal Nedley’s “Proof Positive” slides. Another was recording a ‘live’ series on Family Life in Calgary by Francisca Trexler. Francisca attracted a good audience and the lectures and question period went very well.
Blake also produced a newsletter, Canadian Deaf Ministry Report which was sent to interested people and church leaders across Canada as well as others interested in the USA. That newsletter is still being produced. It is now 12 pages in full color, though only printed twice a year. The newsletter name now includes the term “International”, as it features SDA news of Deaf Ministry from around the world.
Mini Camp Meetings for the Deaf at Hope, BC
One of the major Canadian projects for Deaf Ministry began in 1989. Alberta Blake’s husband John had basically returned to regular pastoral work in the Beauvallon/Bonnyville district in NE Alberta. Alberta continued to work part time in Deaf Ministry. In 1989, Alberta made a trip to BC, and her father-in-law, Frank Blake, took her to the BC Conference office where she had an interview with then President, Clifford Sorenson. She asked if the Deaf could have their own mini-camp meeting during the regular BC Camp meeting. Sorensen was very in favour and things worked out for the Deaf group to meet that summer in the small auditorium at the end of the main Lodge building.
The mini-camp would start at the same time as the regular camp meeting, and end on the following Sunday afternoon or evening. The camp meeting met for 17 years starting in 1989 and except for two years, 1982 & 1983, met every year until 2008. Alberta had contracted atypical tuberculosis, and it was felt that she had to cut back in a major way in their out-of-home activities.
Presenters during those 17 mini-camp meetings were: Elder Paul Kelly, Don Griffith, Elder Thompson Kay, Elder David & Francisca Trexler, Ralph Blank, Elder Alfred Griffith, Elder George Belser, Elder Jeff Jordan, Elder Alan Meis, Chuck McGehee and a combination of Bruce Buzzel and Greg Greenwood. Most of our western Canadian SDA Deaf came at some point, but the majority of attendees usually came from Washington and Oregon. However, one year, Nigel Persaud, came all the way from Toronto. In 1994 the camp stretched all week and Trexler’s included a training session in their talks.
Following the mini camp meeting, an Introduction to Sign Language and Deaf Ministry workshop class was conducted during the regular BC Conference daily workshop period. Alberta led out with the signing in many of these, and later, for at least 6 summers, Judith Stothart’s deaf husband, George Stothart, gave very helpful and personable sign language classes. The last Sabbath of the regular camp meeting we would usually provide interpreting for any Deaf who were at Hope, but it was usually a very small number.
Sabbath afternoon we often went to the Coquihalla Train tunnels or a drive up the Fraser Canyon. On Sunday afternoon our outings could take us to an alpine meadow in a park up the Hope-Princton highway, to the Hell’s Gate aerial tram site or swimming at Harrison Hot Springs with a visit to the elderly Robert Hartfeil and his wife.
Alberta Camp Meetings:
From 2013 to 2016, Blake worked with Ron Whitford in having an Introduction to Signing and Deaf Ministry workshop during the Seminar time at the Alberta Camp meeting.
A small but nice group came each year. Ron is not a church member, but his mother, Judith Stothart, grew up in an SDA home and was later baptized. Ron is currently in charge of the Special Needs services at the University of Calgary.
Blake has for many years had a Deaf Ministry booth in the Display Tent during the camp meeting. To get people to stop and give some thought to Deaf Ministry, various prizes have been given to a winner who had
completed a short Deaf Ministry survey designed to help people to briefly think about Deaf Ministry. A quality digital camera, or tablet computer, or major gift certificate at the ABC were prizes that have been used.
Gospel Outreach (GO)
NOTE: Because Pastor Blake has been the primary person involved with Gospel Outreach [GO] as Director of the GO Deaf Ministry department since 2006, we have included this historical story in the Canadian Historical Section. However, we so much appreciate that various Americans have been involved. Primarily this has included Elder Alfred Griffith who was working with the GO work in India for some years, but who in 2017 had to resign because of his wife’s illness. Others, including Thompson Kay, David and Francisca Trexler, Elder Jeff Jordan, Marvin Budd, and Dr. Larry Evans, have all been involved in trips to visit and help in the training of workers in various of the overseas countries. Thus, the story of GO could fit either in the USA or Canadian section. We have chosen to include an account in both, so there will be some duplication.
Expanding Beyond Canada
The Canadian GO office has had involvement in helping forward funding from Canada to the USA office. Also, much of the current overseas work is really in the Canadian GO ‘African Territory’, but rather than doing Deaf Ministry from two offices, supervision for Deaf Ministry has been out of the USA office.
Before officially retiring from the Alberta Conference pastoral
work at the end of 2005, Blake became involved in Deaf Ministry with Dorothy Watts, Associate Secretary of the Southern Asia Division. She had first asked for financial help with a pastor who was too deaf to pastor. Funds were found. Then, Blake wondered – if a guarantee were made to sponsor a regular full time pastor for the Deaf with 50% of his salary – could she find the other 50%. It was not long, and two full time Deaf Ministry regular Conference workers were started. Dorothy found stipend funding for a third – as a Lay Pastor.
Blake wanted to get others involved in this mission endeavour. He asked Thompson Kay and David Trexler if they would like to go and investigate the deaf work in India. They agreed, going in 2000. In 2002, Blake finally got up his courage to also go, taking Elder Jeff Jordan with him. They found deaf work starting in various areas in India, and visited a new church just being built for the Deaf at Thanajur – paid by a brother from British Columbia.
When funding had been raised in Canada to bring the number to seven workers, the load became fairly heavy. Blake had been having a display booth each year at the Alberta Camp Meeting, and when there was no one at his booth, or nearby at the Gospel Outreach [GO] booth, he would sometimes get chatting with those manning the GO booth. One day he asked if GO might like to help with workers for the Deaf. He was told to “ask”. However, he delayed until the financial burden of the India project was getting quite heavy. So, finally he asked. GO came up with a sponsorship of 5 workers for the Deaf in India. Later, on a call to thank GO for their help, a request was made which resulted in another 5 workers for India.
When Blake ‘officially retired’ at the end of 2005, he asked Gospel Outreach if they would be willing to start a department just for ministry with Deaf. By this time, GO was already sponsoring about 13 workers for the Deaf in India. Again, Blake was told to ‘ask’. The request was made and a quick answer came back, “Yes”.
Gospel Outreach operates its deaf department by paying a stipend to the local Conference who agree to supervise and train the Lay Bible Workers for the Deaf. The rate is not high – usually only about 50% of the basic salary of an ordained minister. Since a pastor also receives various other allowances, the stipend usually comes closer to one third of the total of what a regular SDA pastor would receive. The stipend may end up being about what a day labourer would receive in that country. This small amount presents many challenges.
Pastor Blake is one of about 18 “Regional Directors”, most of whom have a distinct territory like Andra Pradesh in India, or NE Africa, etc. The Muslim ministry and deaf departments each cover a whole range of countries in many separated parts of the world.
Blake is responsible to attend the Regional Directors meeting held in the Spring and the Fall. While there he is asked to also lead out in doing a 26 minute TV program to be released on 3ABN, HOPE and LLBN satellite networks. He supplies a basic outline of questions the interviewer is to ask. Blake provides commentary on perhaps 20 slides and 4 minutes of video clips.
The normal GO budget allows for one long overseas trip each year. Currently in 2018, there are approximately 50 workers for the Deaf. This includes 6 in a teaching capacity between two SDA deaf schools, one in Mindanao, Philippines, and the other in Western Kenya. The balance usually are “Lay Bible Workers”. However, because of their unique specialty, they really may function somewhat as “Lay Pastors for the Deaf”.
As of 2018 the 50 workers are divided between: The Philippines-7, India-15, Kenya-8, Ghana- 4, Uganda-2, South Sudan-2, Zimbabwe-2, and one each in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Brazil, Congo, Nigeria, Burundi, Botswana, Rwanda, Burundi, and Ethiopia. God keeps opening doors.
One of the most exiting stories is what has happened in Kenya. Back in 2006, Henry Kamau found Blake’s www.deafhope.org web site and began to write asking for help with a local group of Deaf, mostly not of our faith.
Many emails followed, and now Henry is a Gospel Outreach Coordinator for Deaf Ministry in Kenya which includes a small deaf school near Kisii in western Kenya. In August 2016, a large inter-Union camp meeting was held for the Deaf at Kisumu. There were more than 300 Deaf with a baptism of about 75 Deaf. The camp meeting was well attended by about 25
interpreters, various pastors and Conference leaders. Both Union Presidents came and gave their support. Elder Paul Muasya, now the East Central Africa Division Special Needs Director, has given wonderful and
timely support for most of the last 9 years. It shows what the Lord can do when laymen and the organized church can blend their efforts together. There would likely be little work now for the Deaf in Kenya, were it not for Elder Paul Muasya and Henry Kamau!
We regret that in spite of many attempts to grow and strengthen the Ministry to the Deaf in Canada, that much of the work appears to have been ‘seed sewing’ with not a lot of ‘reaping’! There were evangelistic meetings in Toronto, Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary which included either a deaf presenter, or interpreting for the full series. For years there has been a web site, and sign languages classes in different areas, along with the teaching of “Introduction to Deaf Ministry” classes [Toronto, Hope, Bowden, Lacombe].
Many official SDA administrators have encouraged and helped in one way or another and for this we are truly thankful! However, we never have had an official Union Level Deaf Ministry Director for Canada with a budget to work with. Neither have we as a church ever ventured to employ a full time pastor/director to pioneer Deaf Ministry in one Canadian city or region. Our usual church policy is that we need a certain number of members in, and tithe from, a given area before appointing a ‘pastor’. We have never even come close to that point anywhere in Canada. Most of the deaf work in Canada has been through largely unpaid ‘volunteers’. We can be very thankful for all the volunteer work. However, with the right Conference paid Deaf Ministry leadership, things might have been quite different. This only God knows!
Geography and isolation have been major factors in keeping deaf separated from each other. We are beginning to think that unless there can be a strong, continuous ministry by capable deaf or hearing leadership in one major city – year after year – that it seems almost impossible to have really significant, long-term
Our prayer is that God will somehow lead to make a long term outreach possible and that many Deaf from all across Canada will have the opportunity of hearing God’s final message of love and warning in the Three Angel’s Messages of Revelation 14. We need God’s supernatural leading to make this come to pass!