One of the greatest gifts we have as believers is our access to the word of God. God in His wisdom has preserved His words to us in precious written form. They are always there, they do not change and they invite us to read them and be transformed.
The importance of literacy for the sake of the gospel is undeniable. We cannot know truth if we cannot study it and we cannot study it personally if we cannot read it. We can safely say that literacy greatly contributes to the ability of a church to grow into maturity.
“For the WORD of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Heb. 4:12
“All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Tim. 3:16-17
“Your WORD is a lamp for my feet, a light on my path.” Ps. 119:105
“The unfolding of your WORDS gives light; it gives understanding to the simple.” Ps. 119:130
In tribal church planting it is often a huge challenge to develop a literacy program. Often reading is not valued nor desired because it has not been an important part of the life and community of the people. So the challenge becomes not only developing all the material needed, but also demonstrating the benefit of something that has never seemed to be needed before. Enter-“pre-literacy,” but that is a whole other blog. 😉
My sweet and amazing friend Katie is one of the church planters here in Mexico among the Nahuatl people and has the privilege of heading up the literacy program for her team. Katie recently asked me to help her with a small literacy project she had in mind. She asked me if I would be willing to do some simple illustrations for a book she would like to write and add to the small, but growing Nahuatl library.
An important part of a literacy program is to have options of things for the people to read when they learn how. There is no local library for the people to go to and peruse thousands of options. The missionary has to make the library. Usually the books produced for literacy have simple black and white illustrations that help to interest the reader. I love the way Katie does literacy (and a lot of things for that matter 😊) because she goes above and beyond the norm and when she can- she tries to have colored pictures in the books! This is such a treat for the people and they absolutely love it!
So this has been one of my quarantine projects these days, going off of Katie’s ideas I am little by little sketching up some simple illustrations for a book to be added to the Nahuatl library. The book is about a famous politician in Mexican history. You may have heard of him! His name was Benito Juárez. Benito began his life as an indigenous man and through much hard work and study in school he eventually became the president of the country! We sure hope that this book sparks the interest of many Nahuatl readers and helps them continue to develop reading skills that will directly impact their ability and desire to read God’s Word and grow in their faith!
I would love to ask you to pray for literacy needs all over the world. It is an area of the work that is often incredibly challenging and sometimes overlooked. Pray for missionaries to have stamina in this area and for the Lord to give them creative ideas! Maybe the next time you reach for your Bible and easily read over its life giving words, the Lord will remind you to pray for the need for good readers among the least reached peoples of Mexico and the world.