Silence is deep in nature.
Amidst the clamors of this world , life remains in complete stillness and silence for those deprived of hearing. The multiformity of sound in a harmonic orchestra or a musical concert, the transposition in the arrangement of the symphony, the dramatic voice of an actor, the powerful moving speech of a speaker and the plain tones in modulation of everyday conversation is but a deadened sound. Perhaps, it is just the slightest view in the world of silence.
Language had been the barrier to reach out to these very souls in search of "the way the truth and the life". Their hearts yearn to hear the voice of God clearly spoken.
As they watch the world go by with utmost curiosity, they wonder why they are not privileged to have a sense of hearing. They are at lost in trying to know how it feels like to hear and listen to diversity of sounds from the chugging of the train, the chirping of the birds, the crying of the baby, the creaking of the crickets, the buzzing of the bees, the barking of dogs, the beeping of the taxi, the playing of the music box, to the rustling of the leaves and the rush of the waterfalls.
Perception of themselves and the society maybe altered by how the people see them, but it doesn't change the fact that they deserve our most genuine love, care, acceptance and kindest understanding.
Stories of their lives are not hidden from God's eyes. They maybe hard of hearing but their hearts are not hardened. It only takes a few concerned and willing people to immerse themselves in their community, learn the sign language and reach out to them, bringing the gospel in their midst.
In retrospect, that was the beginning of having had an objective to establish a deaf ministry.
But it all began with a story of a family. Lychel was born as a healthy baby to Pastor Chelito and Mrs. Ardeliza Gabuco. Then came Cheard, sickly and deaf. It was a blow that turned the young couple's world upside-down. Accepting the baby's condition was a long enduring process for a mother, leaving a question "why?" embedded on her mind, for out of many people and out of many children, she could not fully discern God's will. She cried bitterly almost everyday pleading her case to God, "Why did you not cover her with your strong and powerful arms when we visited a church member, sick with German Measles? Am I not doing your business visiting and caring for the sick?" Her faith was challenged by the circumstances that transpired. Though in the face of a humbling experience, his husband accepted the child without question. With comforting words, he spoke, "God has a purpose and I'm glad that He chose us to take care of this child."
The family struggled with the baby's health status and a diagnosed heart problem, Patent Ductus Arteriosus (PDA), which needed to be attended promptly. The physician referred them to the Philippine Heart Center for immediate heart operation that cost P60,000 back in 1983. They had no money to pay such a costly operation. All they could do was to gather themselves, wrestled on their knees and cried out their hearts to God. Afterwards, they conversed with the surgeon, it went down to a packaged deal of P40,000. Yet still, it is a big sum of money they could not afford. They went home relieved and worried, thinking deeply where they could get such amount when pastors receive meager income.
An unexpected phone call came from an old pal of Mrs. Gabuco, based in Qatar. For so long a time, they did not have any communication and now as they were experiencing difficulty she called right on time. She offered her a good paying job, direct-hiring. One month to decide to go abroad and leave the country but the husband did not allow her wife to leave and work elsewhere, believing that God answers prayer considering the child's welfare. "It's not God's answer to our prayer. He will not let you leave especially now that your child needs you most.", he explained. She was dismayed and hopeless to save her little Cheard, she replied in tears, "Then, we'll watch her die?". "No", he assured firmly, "God will provide."
All the while, he was working things out with DSWD. They granted his request to sponsor the heart operation with the sole condition to pay back P 1,000 in their most convenient time. Such tremendous blessing stirred their hearts with praises and thanksgiving to God, the operation became successful.
Throughout their lives, they have seen God's powerful working miracle that transformed their lives to an unyielding faith and unwavering trust in Him.
Twenty six years later, Pastor Gabuco was assigned by the Central Luzon Conference (CLC) to minister at Philippine Publishing House (PPH), Mrs. Gabuco held two position as Guidance and Counsellor, also as Special Services Manager at Philippine Institute for the Deaf (PID), Lychel was working as a speech therapist at PID and Cheard was graduating at CAP College - School for the deaf, with the BS in Business Administration (Major in Management).
It seemed that everything was working around well, when God called them to a special ministry. The ministry that never was and never had, the deaf ministry.
A soulful question often raised by their daughter Cheard invoked it all, "Is salvation only for the hearing? Did Jesus die for me?" It is no doubt that salvation is for everyone. However, to address the need and to establish a new ministry was not an easy task. Encouraged by such inquiry and inspired by God's spirit, they wrote to Pastor John Blake, father of two deaf children in Canada SDA Church leading the same ministry at Gospel Outreach (GO), which aims to deepen people's knowledge about Jesus. Surprisingly, he wrote back. Months later, he visited the Philippines. Together, they listed all eligible people to choose from, one who could spearhead the program and fully devote his or her time to it. After going into much huddle, the man turned to the other sister, Lychel, and looked at his father. "I'm eyeing at your daughter." She was not able to reply abruptly, although the word "no" reverberates loudly in her thoughts. To take the responsibility would mean to face all the repercussions, to turn back 90 degrees from all the good things, a nice career, the condo unit, the plan to buy a car, the shopping spree, the dining out with friends and a lot more others. Indeed, it means sacrifice. She was having second thoughts and she was not ready to give up a single thing.
Pastor Blake went back to Canada and the Gabuco family visited a friend down south, who shares the same sympathy for the hearing impaired and the passion to preach the Gospel. The couple named Sarah Famisaran and husband Daryl, the director of the SULADS, which means "brother", in the isolated mountains of Mindanao, was happy to meet the Gabuco family. On one affair, when the workers of the SULADS came over, they shared the story of their co-worker in the mountains who died. But they all put it in God's hands, that his sacrifice is not in vain. Lychel witnessed it all. It touched her heart in the most significant way. She uttered calmly in herself, "How can they sacrifice everything to preach the gospel? And why can't I?" That moment brought dramatic change in her life, she committed herself to God and accepted the challenge for the ministry. She resigned in her work without a thought, moved back home and focused on Deaf Ministry.
God prepared the way, the Pasay Adventist Church headed by Pastor Aser Bacdayan supported the program to cater to this ministry in their very own church. And with the untiring efforts of Wilson Sia II, Worthy Habla, Judith Dejong, the Cano family, the Palma, most especially to Blake, Andrada and Gabuco family, Deaf Ministry was made possible. Despite of the limited human potential and capacity, God can only truly work in the hearts of men. All the glory and honor be pointed to God alone, the great Monarch of diversified cultures who brings bridges to a world of indifference.
The numbers are a few, but God has the upper hand to bring more of these precious souls to the cross of Calvary. "His grace is sufficient", as promised and His subduing power "quicken the lifeless faculties of soul."
As Ellen G. White once wrote, "I saw that it is in the providence of God that widows and orphans, the blind, the deaf, the lame, the persons afflicted in a variety of ways, have been placed in close Christian relationship to His church; it is to prove His people and develop their true character. Angels of God are watching to see how we treat these persons who need our sympathy, love and disinterested benevolence. This is God's test of our character." 3 T 511.
Salvation is not just for the hearing and the speaking. Thus, we must break into the world of silence because Christ also died for those who cannot hear and for those who cannot speak.