Friday, September 22, 2017

Pastor Kary Janaina S. Sales Borges

Originally addressed to Rev. Thomas Hudspeth, in response to a request after the First International Conference of Mission and Deaf Culture, and reprinted with permission of the author.

I come respectfully to talk about my experience and how I reached the priesthood of the Methodist Church. I am a blind person born in the city Rondonopolis, the state of Mato Grosso, located in the west-central region of Brazil, married to Gelson José Borges, mother of one daughter Ana Hadassa Sales Borges who is 4 years old and currently I reside and lead the Methodist Church of Porto Ferreira SP since 2012.

It has been and is a great grace to know and live for the work of our Lord. “To know and live for the Lord” is not just to read your Bible or to learn by heart some scriptures, but rather to have a knowledge like that of children. Is it not true that children taste everything by putting it in their mouths? They put everything in their mouths. I have noticed that through my daughter, ever since she was born. She used to do that and still does. To know the Word is to ‘taste it’ and to ‘delight in it’. Likewise, to know God is to experience his ‘taste’ and his ‘aroma’. The Lord has given me a great opportunity to come near him and to ‘taste’ him. To taste how the Lord is good… To taste how the Lord is an intimate friend and merciful. It was the church that gave me this privilege to have intimacy with the Lord. I knew Jesus through teachings of my family and of the church. But I had a personal experience in truly knowing him, by going to the Methodist Church in Rondonopolis, state of Mato Grosso, which is near where I lived. I went there in search of help for a friend who is also blind and who was very depressed. I took her to the Methodist Church, without even being a member there, with the hope that the Pastor could help her overcome her depression. I was happy at how well I was welcomed and I started to attend that church.

After almost one year, during a Sunday service, during a sermon of Rev. Fabio, current elected bishop in the council of our church, I felt in my heart the will to be a servant of the Lord.  You must be thinking: “Only after a year that you had arrived at church was it that you had a personal experience with Jesus?” Yes! On a Sunday evening, I opened my heart and listened to that sermon and something touched me deeply. I felt it in my heart, the taste of that moment and a strong aroma that marked me intensely. What Jesus had asked Peter and the other apostles, I also heard him ask me: “And you, who do you say I am?” (Matthew 16:15) In reality, it was Jesus asking me: “And you, Kary Janaina, who do you say I am?” Right at that moment and on that evening, I had my personal encounter with Jesus. Ever since that day, I felt the strength of my calling. Some days later I felt very afraid… I did not know what had happened to me. I searched for Pr. Fabio and told him what was happening. He also did not understand what was ministered to me. In face of this fact, he was very happy and he supported me in my calling.

With a conviction of my calling, the church referred me to the Baptist seminary in a nearby town, where I was for 6 months, and I felt that that was not what God had for me because they wanted me to be a Baptist. I returned to Rondonopolis and reported that to pastor Fabio and he gave me some guidance. Because I did not have the two year membership as is required, I had to wait until I did in order to be recommended by the church and go to the Methodist College in Sao Bernardo. I had received my calling in the Methodist Church and therefore that is where I should complete my studies, according to the will of God.

During this time I developed a project of evangelism with the blind people of the Louis Braille Institute of Rehabilitation where I had studied for 18 years previously. Many people accepted Christ there.

I completed the two years required of membership and in 2005 I went to do the pre-theological in the city of Lins, state of Sao Paulo for one year. I was afraid because I had never travelled alone before and I had to do it then, until I completed the course.

At that point, I took the vestibular (a test to enter into college). By the divine grace and a lot of determination on my part, I passed and I entered in 2006 into UMESP, the Methodist College in Rudi Ramos in the city of Sao Bernardo do Campo in the state of Sao Paulo. Everything went well in the course, but because I was the first blind person, it was a great experience for me and for the institution itself.

There was a time I went through a trial, that was when the great grace fell upon me: many people that should have supported me doubted that I would conclude the Theology Course. However, inspired by grace and by the Holy Spirit, comforted and helped by him, I dedicated myself to my studies. I was the object of irony for many, they made bets that I would not graduate in theology. Some friends and teachers supported me, they saw in me a reliable and determined person. Many of them are my friends to this day.

During five years, I would go to and from my home city of Rondonopolis and Sao Bernardo, which are approximately 1,800 km apart. Always travelling alone, and with God´s grace I concluded the course. God was carrying out his will in me, for me to be his servant. In the year of 2009 I was nominated as assistant pastor in the city of Ribeirao Preto in the state of Sao Paulo, for two years. In 2011, I was caught by surprise being nominated as senior pastor  of the Methodist Church in Porto Ferreira, in the state of Sao Paulo, where I still am currently. In 2014 I was appointed coordinator of the 5th and 8th ecclesiastical regions for the ministry of inclusion. Aside from my ministry, I take part in the handicapped association in this city called “Nós Somos Capazes” (“We are able”) of which I am one of the founders. I am hope for their families, who seek help. The Lord guides me so that I can comfort them and show, in the gospel, the answer to those who seek me in the hope of also having an experience of an encounter with God. He prepared me to be here. And, like a child, I continue to ‘taste’ the delight of having had such experience and of being able to share it. “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor 2:9)

With the growth of my ministry, I have taken part in a couple of congresses, the “Integral Mission for the Deaf” in Belo Horizonte being one of them, where I had the great pleasure of meeting you. There I was able to notice how much we, as handicapped people, can learn and teach. That we are living  witnesses of God's love, in the way you expressed your ability of preaching the gospel of the good news to every creature. The biggest disability is in the soul of people who do not know and do not want to seek a deeper personal experience with God.

With you, I had the conviction that I am not alone, and that the distance and the language are not an obstacle for us having integration regarding many of the human special needs. I have noticed that this movement, your ministry and the ministry of Pr Ronilson Lopes de Almeida produce fruit as determined by our Lord Jesus Christ. May our church have the sensitivity to support and take this ministry forward, and may we learn to listen and communicate with the Deaf, and acknowledge that the disabled are able.

I was impressed with the reverence shown by Reverend Thomas Hudspeth, to those who are in need of knowing the Word, with his manner of communicating, with serenity, spirituality which was clearly distinctive, making me and all the others present too very happy. I take the liberty to congratulate the team for their complicity and fine tuning by which they lectured to us with love and grace. On my part, I would like to express my gratitude for this precious opportunity.

In the same way I had this experience of God´s love, and of my personal encounter with him, many still don´t have this perception. And it is up to us as an example, to develop and carry out the mission that Jesus Christ asks of us.

”When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

With the grace of God and his love,

Rev. Kary Janaina S.S Borges

Rev. Borges standing on a platform, she is wearing a pastor's robe with a red stole, and playing a guitar.

See more photos at www.umdeaf/mission/borges.html

News and notes from UMAMD, 9/22/17

 Volunteers and disability (2 articles)

NYT Disability: Nazis' first victims

Disability pride is good for you

"Low expectations" or "presume competence"--a story from the tech world that, with few changes, could be true in (too many) churches:

Breaking Barriers, from CRC disability ministries:

Report from Brazil

Using a microphone:


Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
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This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Deaf Awareness means Deaf Empowerment

Deaf Awareness Means Deaf Empowerment
By Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. 

September is Deaf Awareness Month. It's a time to learn about Deaf culture, sign language (and even learn some sign phrases), and Deaf history. It's also a good time to become more sensitive to Deaf culture, improve accessibility in our churches, and do a better job of empowering Deaf and hard of hearing people. 

Deaf awareness also includes an understanding of what "hearing privilege" is. A simple explanation of having a privilege is to recognize having an advantage or having power that others, or a group, does not have. Here are some examples of hearing privilege.

Hearing people:

  • Are able to apply to any university they choose without discrimination, and do not have to worry whether an interpreter will be available to interpret when they attend said university.
  • Can have direct communication with their peers and teachers in a classroom without the use of an interpreter.
  • Do not have to worry about funding for interpreters.
  • Do not have to worry about finding an interpreter at a medical office, in dealing with police, or other public agencies.
  • Get to have full communication with parents and family in their first language.
  • Get to share the same cultural values as their family.
  • Don’t have to defend and fight to have their language recognized and respected.
  • Can apply at any job they choose without fear of discrimination.
  • Can go to a museum or special events without needing an interpreter.

Certainly, the list is just a snippet (see more examples here) and can be more specific to communities or circumstances. The point of this list is to heighten our awareness, to be more sensitive, and to be intentional in empowering Deaf and hard of hearing people in our faith communities.

Most of us may think that "providing" an interpreter or having a hearing loop system is what we need to do to be inviting of Deaf and hard of hearing people. Yet, this is exactly the point. Including or providing (being inclusive) is not the same as being empowering. Empowering is sharing the power or giving up power in order for a person (someone without it) to have power. When we do not empower others, then it is often about us not wanting to give up power and control. It might be more about keeping status or due to insecurity when we do not empower others. Empowering others is Christ-like and it is what Jesus showed us in his ministry throughout Galilee. For example, Jesus empowered the seventy-two disciples to share in the work and ministry. When we empower others, we are intentionally sharing grace.

One church in the state of Maryland does a great job in empowering Deaf parishioners. Besides having a sign language interpreter, the church elected the Deaf person a lay leader. A church in Washington state voted for the Deaf person to be the lay member to annual conference. Talk about sharing power! The lay member to annual conference has a seat on a few church committees. 

More importantly, this type of empowerment models to the church and to the community that ALL people are valued and are welcomed here. A church in Florida had a supportive pastor who empowered a Deaf couple to be representatives at their annual conference. At their home church, they are often Scripture readers and lead in other ways. There are other churches doing these and more; however, it’s only a start as we need to continually strive for more diversity that better represents the body of Christ.

Raising awareness couldn't be easier during Deaf Awareness Month. Try these ideas:

For more Deaf awareness ideas, for resources, and considerations for establishing a Deaf ministry, go to the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries webpage for congregational resources

About the writer: Rev. Leo Yates, Jr. is a provisional deacon serving in the Baltimore Washington Conference. He serves on the United Methodist Committee on Deaf and Hard of Hearing Ministries.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

DMC Funding Update

NEWS UPDATE, September 11, 2017

“Uneven ground will become level, and rough terrain a valley plain. The Lord’s glory will appear, and all humanity will see it together; the Lord’s mouth has commanded it.”   Isaiah 40:4-5

On August 11, 2017, the DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church was informed that the Global Health Division of the General Board of Global Ministries will stop funding us as of May 31, 2018. After many years of being our home, they no longer have a mandate in the Book of Discipline to include us in their budget. In fact, our committee was quietly erased from the Discipline altogether. Global Health now has responsibility only for “Encouraging awareness of the gifts, graces, assets, and needs of persons with special physical, mental, and other developmental needs, fostering a culture of inclusivity within The United Methodist Church as a place where people with special needs will be embraced in all aspects of worship, leadership, and ministry.”

The DisAbility Ministries Committee does not approve of the changes nor of the way that they were made. Providing the advocacy, education, and empowerment that are needed so that everyone will find a place to belong in the United Methodist Church requires much more than encouraging awareness and fostering inclusivity. It requires listening to the voices of people with disabilities and not making changes about us without us.

We will continue to provide resources, grants, and education to people engaged in DisAbility Ministries. We will move forward to expand our relationships with others in ministry. We will keep on expanding our capabilities by adding new resource people. We will not stop until all United Methodists everywhere have been reached and we have, through them, “made disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world,” disciples who include people with disabilities.

We are asking for your help in two ways:

Please consider writing a letter to the General Board of Global Ministries, Global Health Division, recounting your personal experiences, 
  • If you have been impacted by a workshop or training that we have provided,
  • if you have been motivated by hearing one of us preach or speak,
  • if you have found our website or printed-out resources helpful,
  • if you have received a grant to help improve accessibility or programming.

Letters can be sent to Thomas Kemper (, Dr. Olusimbo Ige (, and Sabrina Rodgers (

2.  Please also consider donating to our Advance, #3021054 through the General Board of Global Ministries at

Above all, remember that we are still here to serve you. Thank you for your support!

Yours in service to Christ,

Sharon McCart
Chair, DisAbility Ministries Committee of The United Methodist Church

Friday, September 1, 2017

News and notes from AMD, 9/1/17

A trip to the Philippines

Rooted in Rights "Like the Mic"; this video is captioned and audio described, so it's a good demonstration, as well as a reminder of accommodating everyone:

Jean Vanier: background and interview:

Mental Health Ministries newsletter, September

"Usefulness" is not a measure of human worth

Disaster disability assistance agency

There will not be a newsletter next week. A happy Labor Day, y'all!


Click here for a list of events of interest to people in disability ministry.
UMAMD logo with the UM Cross and Flame and several disability symbols
This newsletter is generally issued weekly by the
United Methodist Association of Ministers with Disabilities,
a caucus of the United Methodist Church.

Click here to join this e-mail list.
Visit us on the web or Facebook