Teaching adults, youth, and children to read and write using God’s Word is an important and growing ministry today. From the remote, mountainous north of Vietnam, to the dangerous and impoverished neighborhoods of Cairo, the Gospel is reaching those kept from God’s Word because of poverty or prejudice, including many attracted by the opportunity of literacy who then understand and believe the Gospel through this ministry.
Bible-based Literacy is the only ministry of its kind—using God’s Word to teach reading and writing. Under-resourced churches in some of the most forsaken and forgotten places are sharing the Gospel with those who would otherwise never consider Christian faith. And where opposition to the Gospel hinders evangelism, under-resourced churches are able to reach people in their communities.
“I never thought I’d ever be able to read the Bible,” a woman in the Middle East confesses, “I felt I was always buried under layers of ignorance. I’ve always felt forgotten and unknown and this made me frustrated—trapped in a dark room of loneliness.” Then she heard of an Arabic Bible-based Literacy class in a nearby church and, she says with a broad smile, “Bible-based Literacy isn’t just about teaching us reading and writing, and it does more than teach us about the Bible. It taught me that I do matter to God. This is a ministry of care and mercy for all the disregarded and neglected in our world. Thank you for reaching out to me.”
Ying migrated to Hong Kong from a rural area of mainland China searching for a better life. But without English, she went from poor to poorer, until an under-resourced church stepped-in to share God’s Word with her. “My own child asked me to join the class because he needed help with his own English,” Ying admits. And her instructor says, “Praise the Lord, Ying can now read the Bible words and speak some English, and she started coming to our Sunday church service. And the best news is that she accepted Jesus as her Savior as she learned to read and write using God’s Word. She is a new believer.”
While there is great pride to reading and writing in Bengali, the great majority of people have little opportunity to pursue literacy today. Santi, from Lama in the Bandarban Hill Tract area, says, “I wanted to become an educated person but because I was raised in such a poor family I had no chance. I worked in the fields so that my family could eat, and I followed the idol worship of my village. But when a neighbor started a Bible-based Literacy class, I joined right away, and that’s how I learned about Jesus Christ. After learning about salvation, I told everyone I want a new life and I want an eternal life.”
“It’s the children who suffer the most,” a church leader in Malaysia says, “especially if they live where Christians live.” So, in a rural village about 200km from Kuala, Lumpur, children sit on a dire floor in a crowded room to learn to read and write. They begin with prayer, and then start to write-out the phrase, Jesus is Lord and Savior. “Because they are the children of Christians, they have never had the chance to learn to read and write,” he reports, “and this will be their only opportunity.”
In the midst of her extreme poverty and the religious prejudice that kept her from a Bible, she kept asking God for help, “and thanks to you, God helped me.” She is part of the very first Project Philip Bible study in the region and using the Easy-to-Read Arabic translation. “And because of this help, I can study the Bible and even help others learn themselves,” she adds.
Today, you are reaching people in almost 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and the U.S. as they learn God’s Word in English, Arabic, Bengali, Hindi, Spanish, and Haitian-Creole—all living in impoverished places. And as under-resourced churches search for new ways to reach those in need around them, you can pray that Bible-based Literacy will continue to grow as a ministry—giving hope and the promise of new life through faith in Jesus Christ.