This year Esta is learning to read. It’s pretty exciting to see the world of literacy open for her. It’s exciting but also requires her to work hard as she learns what the 26 letters look like and what sound (or sounds) each of those letters make or blend together to make. We’re still in the early phases of learning, and she’s working on reading simple sentences like “The cat and the rat ran.” But as Esta’s reading skills progress, she will read more and more difficult books and one day will be reading God’s truth from the Bible herself, instead of relying on us and other teachers to tell her what it says.
Teaching a child to read might not be easy, but it is certainly worth it for their long-term growth and development. And that’s one of the things that New Tribes Mission recognizes for the long-term spiritual health of those we seek to reach with the message of the Gospel. New Tribes missionaries learn the languages and cultures of remote tribal groups, they teach them the message of the Bible, from beginning to end, in their own language. They establish mature churches among these people, and to ensure that the people can continue to grow and mature in their faith, they need Bibles in their own language.
But in many of these groups, there is no written language. The missionaries must write the language down and teach the people to read their own language so that they too can read the Bible like we do every day. Literacy Coordinators with New Tribes, Jerry and Joyce McDaniels say that the goal for literacy isn’t so that people can read and write, rather “It’s so that they can know the Creator God.”
Our role in PNG is to provide the translators and teachers with the techological tools to more quickly and easily teach people to read and write in their own language. What is your role?
The next time you pick up your Bible, think about how valuable literacy is to your understanding of God’s plan of salvation and his plan for your life. What would your life be like without the ability to open God’s word and discover for yourself His truth?
Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.