NEC CAMP MEETING MEET NEEDS OF THE DEAF
7th July 2017
The North England
Conference (NEC) Camp Meeting at Southport was a great experience and for many
of the team providing services at the site a very tiring event. Two of the most
tired people on the site were Angela Walker and Lorna McKenzie who had provided
signing communication for the adult audience throughout the week, 26 June - 2
British Sign Language
is likened to taking a sentence and turning it into a picture for a person to
see what is being spoken about.
Standing to the right
of each speaker and often in camera vision for the streamed presentations the
ladies worked in shifts retelling the message of the speaker in ‘hand-pictures’
using BSL, British Sign Language. With one known Deaf person in the audience
and unknown others the service was provided not just because of a simple need
on the day but also to set an example of the need for every church to be able
to provide sign language communication for regular worship in churches around
the Conferences and Missions. The congregation experienced first-hand a minor
example of the frustration a Deaf person must feel as Pastor Jeynes interviewed
Lorna McKenzie on the Sabbath afternoon – in complete silence – seeing only
Lorna explained that
it is estimated that only 2% of the world’s Deaf people have heard about Jesus.
The lack of Deaf people in our congregations is not because of the fact that we
are blessed with good health but it is because we simply do not provide a
service for Deaf people. We exclude Deaf people from the gospel. Providing a
hearing aid loop, it seems, is simply not enough to minister to Deaf people.
Angela explained that
as she signed for a party of Deaf people in another faith setting one member of
the faith group explained that her visit was the first time her church leaders
had been able to explain her faith to her.
A visit to a
Jehovah’s Witness assembly or a Mormon church would likely find a Deaf person
able to be welcomed and signed for during worship. To take the theme of the Children’s
Ministries programme, we truly hide our light under a bushel when we do not
provide communication for people who are Deaf and visitors who need sign
Lorna explained that
she and Angela were part of a team who provide BSL communication for churches.
Led by Pastor George Hamilton, who is based in Bradford, the group have
provided basic instruction to the Wolverhampton and Bradford churches and can
provide further training. The team, ‘Sign the Word’, suggest that every church
should, at the very least, be able to greet a Deaf person in sign language even
if a full communication service cannot be provided.
The NEC, through
Sister Grace Walsh, Health Ministries director, have committed funds to helping
develop sign language use in churches. Our local churches truly ought to be
realising that while we may wish to reach our neighbourhoods, our friends or
our Moslem neighbours, we also need to reach out to Deaf people or people who are
finding it difficult to hear.
Our BSL communicators
received warm applause and a grateful thank you for their efforts during the
week at Camp Meeting. They truly had been able to help share the gospel during
the week as well as opening up a world of potential involvement and excitement
in God’s remnant church.