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Braille Readers’ Club Studies Adventist Beliefs

posted on April 29, 2014, under Church, Conference by

by Dexter Thomas

Dexter Thomas, second from left, has a doctor of ministry degree and teaches a braille class at West Palm Beach Braille Readers' Club. "Visually impaired individuals are accustomed to people rushing by and feeling lonely in a sighted world," he said. "When we reached out to them, we were able to bring confidence and assurance that there are still people in the world who care." (Photo: William Verdekal)

Dexter Thomas, second from left, has a doctor of ministry degree and teaches a braille class at West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club. “Visually impaired individuals are accustomed to people rushing by and feeling lonely in a sighted world,” he said. “When we reached out to them, we were able to bring confidence and assurance that there are still people in the world who care.” (Photo: William Verdekal)

Every week, a secular organization for the blind, located in West Palm Beach, hosts an educational ministry—the West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club—where visually challenged adults learn to read braille using the 28 fundamental beliefs of Adventism as their study materials.

Dexter Thomas, Florida Conference Disabilities Coordinator, designed the curriculum with the help of members from several local churches. Because of its brevity and simplicity, Dexter used the children’s version of the 28 fundamental beliefs as the basis of the study materials.

Each lesson highlights one of the fundamental beliefs to illustrate a braille concept. He explains one of the many contractions in braille, then the students read a fundamental belief to see how it uses the contraction. “Blind individuals improve their braille literacy and, at the same time, learn these precious biblical truths,” said Thomas, who is blind.

The West Palm Beach Braille Readers' Club studies the Seventh-day Adventist Church's 28 fundamental beliefs while learning to read braille. Leaders chose the children's version for its simpler presentation of the beliefs. (Photo: Pacific Press)

The West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club studies the Seventh-day Adventist Church’s 28 fundamental beliefs while learning to read braille. Leaders chose the children’s version for its simpler presentation of the beliefs. (Photo: Pacific Press)

Every bit as important as the lessons is the fellowship. “We advertised our free braille classes as a fun and exciting learning experience with food, friendship, and fellowship,” said Thomas. “The food and fellowship doesn’t only attract the visually challenged. It also attracts their caregivers and other church members who create a warm, nonthreatening ministry environment.”

Five local Adventist congregations staff the West Palm Beach Braille Readers’ Club: First Church of West Palm Beach, Communities West Church in Loxahatchee, Palm Springs Church of West Palm Beach, South Palm Company of Delray Beach, and Boynton Beach Church. The generosity of members in these churches has also funded the braille books used in the sessions.

Thomas would like to see these Braille Readers’ Clubs formed in communities throughout Florida. It is surprisingly easy to run such a Club. The church receives a manual that explains how to organize and run a Club, and the church provides volunteers and refreshments.

“Our prayer is for such a ministry to spread throughout the Conference. Churches can partner with the disabled and their families for their wholeness, and give them a foretaste of the unconditional love and acceptance we will all experience in the earth made new,” said Thomas.


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