Pluto was discovered. Huckleberry Finn was published. Snow fell in the Sahara Desert. Throughout history, hundreds of things happened on February 18.
How do I know? One click of the mouse gives me access to countless online resources that can lead me to countless other digital and printed resources.
I have never lacked for reading material. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of visiting the library, bringing a stack of books home, and diving in. Having books available—and the opportunity to learn to read—are things I simply took for granted. My life has been enriched and my worldview expanded through the written word.
A lack of resources
Not everyone has been similarly blessed. “I believe I counted ten booklets in the local library,” a former missionary once remarked. He was referring to the library in the small town where he served in Africa. “That’s booklets, not books. An American author might produce more reading material in a day than this entire community will produce in a year!”
Why is that? “Reading and writing are not practiced skills in communities that don’t require them. When your material survival is almost entirely dependent on your ability to produce your own food and care for your own livestock, you spend your time doing just that, not reading and writing. There was a time when it was like that in the U.S. too.”
That’s not the only reason. Some languages have never been written. There is simply no tradition of reading and writing among these language speakers. Even when a writing system has been developed, there may be few opportunities for education.
Empowering through literacy
The mission of Lutheran Bible Translators (LBT) is to make God’s Word accessible to people in their own languages. We often work with local churches and Bible Societies to promote literacy in communities as translated Scripture because available. In fact, Scripture portions are often the first printed materials to which people have ever had access. What follows are further materials that range from folk stories to medical pamphlets to Sunday school leaflets.
Studies show that education and literacy are key to empowering communities to deal with social issues. People learn new skills, can make informed choices, students are more engaged when lessons are in their first language.
God’s Word opens hearts and minds to the assurance of life everlasting through faith in Jesus Christ. Being literate presents new options and opportunities for individuals, communities and the church.
You have the ability to read this blog. Help others attain the ability to read God’s Word and learn more about God’s world through their own languages. Click here for more information.