I write from Lisbon, Portugal where I first attended a meeting for interpreters for the Deaf which was then followed by an advisory meeting. An advisory is an orientation meeting for leaders of Deaf and Special Needs Ministries. The commitment and enthusiasm of the Inter-European Division Special Needs Director, Corado Cozzi, is making a difference in this part of the world. Teaming up with him were his able assistant, Taida Rivero and the coordinator in Portugal, Cláudia Dias. Seven of the 10 unions were represented. This is a major endorsement from this division when this many unions participate. I have yet to see Special Needs Ministries expand rapidly without the endorsement and support from both the unions and the division. While we speak of a "grassroots movement", it takes the whole church for a movement to gain momentum. There are signs a global movement is forming. Such meetings are needed. There is such a short supply of interpreters for the Deaf. In many places this need is beginning to be filled.
One highlight of our meetings in Portugal was a discussion regarding the unfortunate plight of thousands of orphans and vulnerable children. Alarming are the reports of hundreds of children who suddenly disappear. It is felt they have fallen to human trafficking (prostitution, etc) and the harvesting of human organs. That reality is weighing heavily on me and others. We cannot sit and not do more than we are. What can we do? We already have some excellent organizations working for orphans. We need to support them but we must also find ways of significantly expanding this ministry to halt the disappearance of other children. Stay tuned. This ministry must be more about possibility than disability. With God's help and yours it will be!
(Below are images taken during the trip. Each image below can be clicked on to view an enlargement in a new tab)