Ministry in the Face of Adversity

Newbold’s student-led worship programme The Experience was blessed to host a guest speaker from the General Conference (GC) earlier this month, to round off the Campus Ministries-run programme for the year.

Pastor Jeff Jordan, Honorary Associate Coordinator for Deaf Ministry within the GC’s office of Special Needs Ministries, and pastor of the Southern Deaf Fellowship Church in Tennessee (US), gave his talk in sign language on Tuesday 6 December.

There was a large attendance even though it was revision week on campus. Pastor Jordan was accompanied by his wife Melissa, who is a sign language translator and together they shared a powerful sermon and testimony based on John 9:1-12, which tells the story of the blind man Jesus healed, and whose life was transformed as a result. The man’s story went on to have a powerful effect on all who knew him. Pastor Jordan spoke about being deaf from birth and the way God has used this disability to allow him to build and grow a powerful ministry.

“Jeff and Melissa were inspirational. Their message was a poignant reminder that the Gospel of Christ is inclusive, to all communities, including those with disabilities. Jeff is making this possible,” said Lolly Fontaine, a postgraduate Theology student.

“Jeff and Melissa were so in sync with one another and they delivered the message to us with so much love, it will be an Experience the students wont forget for a long time to come,” added Christle Jasinta, a student leader of The Experience ministry.

Pastor Patrick Johnson, Disability Coordinator for the Trans-European Division and former Senior Pastor at Newbold Church, created the opportunity for Pastor Jordan to speak to the students and said he was delighted with the result. “I think it is important for our students to be exposed to seeing how church should be a place for everyone,” said Pastor Johnson. “Having a pastor who is deaf give the message was a great opportunity to experience what this could actually look like.”

Pastor Jordan taught the attendees how to say “Jesus loves you” and “thank you” in sign language, which had a huge effect on those who attended, as they were able to take away a practical and valuable lesson that they could remember and apply. He also encouraged the students to pursue sign language classes and to be aware of special needs.

“This was a truly amazing experience. I found Jeff’s testimony really profound and moving, as it really spoke to me. The heartache of feeling God will never answer your prayer, only for Him to come through magnificently decades later in ways you could never predict. Beyond your expectations! God knows best! I found it really inspirational to hear about deaf ministries in the US, and the reality of a deaf church,” said Dee Edwards, another postgraduate theology student.

In 1996 Jeff Jordan became the first deaf Adventist to earn a Master of Divinity degree from the Adventist Theological Seminary at Andrews University. He now pastors the Southern Deaf Fellowship, an online church that ministers to the deaf. For more information on Deaf Ministries, visit adventistdeaf.org.

Kirsty Watkins
Publications and Alumni Relations Coordinator

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