Posts Tagged ‘read’

A teacher teaches a class of children how to read and write.

Did you know that September 8 is International Literacy Day? It’s a day set aside to not only celebrate and rediscover the joys of reading, but to also raise awareness about the literacy struggles that people face all around the world.

Imagine not being able to read. What would your life be like? Whether you consider yourself an avid reader or not, we read every single day. Text messages, emails, billboards, menus, articles, blogs, news stories … even what our friends post on social media! Reading is integral to our lives, yet millions of people around the world haven’t had the opportunity to learn this important skill.

You can help change that.

And it all begins with something as simple as collecting your loose pocket change.

Join Kate and Mack on their latest adventure through their “Pocket Change Challenge.” It’s an easy way to teach your kids about giving while promoting a need that we can help tangibly meet. No matter how old you are — whether you’re five years old and just learning to read or 75 years old with years of reading behind us — you can play a part! We especially want to encourage young kids to get excited about reading. How amazing would it be that they can make a difference by helping kids, just like them, learn how to read?

Because when people learn how to read, they’re given the ability to read the most important book of all — God’s Word in their heart language.

Join us in celebrating International Literacy Day! If you love to read or simply know the benefits of this life-changing skill, consider doing something to help someone else learn how to read, too.

Photo by Zeke du Plessis

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Words and Photo by Katie Kuykendall

In a dimly lit church, this young Senegalese man studies his Bible intently by the light of a single window. The members of this congregation speak Creole, Manjak, and the national language – French. Though French is not the language most of them know best, many only have access to French Bibles and glean what they can from the text despite their limited understanding.

One Manjak pastor said, “Sometimes people don’t understand the Bible in French. Sometimes we read it in Creole [in church], and only some understand. But when we read it in Manjak, everybody understands.”

Another Senegalese man said, “God’s Word is something of greatness, and it’s for all.”

As a team translates Scripture into Manjak, it’s already transforming hearts. Watch the story of one man whose life changed as a result of the Gospel in his language.

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By Melissa Paredes

The Advocating ChiefJohn Sethy is a husband, a father, and the chief of his small village of Nivenue on the island of Epi in Vanuatu. Those responsibilities all keep him busy, but recently he took on a whole new responsibility—becoming the advocate for the Bible translation in his own heart language of Lewo.

It took several years for John to reach this point of helping his people receive God’s Word in the language they understand best. In 2010, members of the Vanuatu Building for Tomorrow group (VBT) and the SIL* team came to John’s home village to hold a literacy workshop and record some of the Lewo New Testament. They came in response to a request from Kapiapo, one of the village’s church elders and long-time lead translator for the Lewo project. Kapiapo wanted his people to become more aware of the translation work in their language—work that had been ongoing for the last twenty years.

While in the area, the team members attended a Sunday church service. During the service, John stood up and read fluently from 1 John in the Lewo language. Everyone was impressed with John’s abilities, his humble attitude, his cleverness, and his passion for God’s Word.

Three years passed. VBT and SIL planned to host a workshop that would help equip people across Vanuatu to read, understand, and teach the Scripture. As they thought of potential participants, John was one of the first people who came to mind.

John would be difficult to get in touch with, because his village is in a hollow, and contacting him by mobile phone would be a challenge. But the team decided to try, so they called another man from John’s village to see if he could help them get in touch with John.

Amazingly, John was standing right next to the man when the team called. He accepted their offer with excitement.The Advocating Chief 3

With great enthusiasm, John attended the workshop and absorbed as much as he could during his time there. He was particularly enthralled by the study of God’s Word through learning more about the historical and cultural context of the Scriptures, and ways to deepen his understanding of it. With this approach, he’d be able to help learn about the true meaning of the Scriptures and could then help teach his people about what the Bible was saying.

John returned to his village, excited to test out his new skills with members of his community. People really enjoyed the new insight he could provide. John shared, “I started [using my knowledge] with my family and that was good. But I am a chief, and I see that these skills in working through problems directly apply to my work. … I can help people to analyze the problems now as I ask them questions. It makes my job much easier!”

Since the first workshop, John has attended several more. He’s also taken over the Lewo translation project with another man. Elder Kapiapo chose John as his replacement on the project team when he learned that he had liver cancer. He passed away in 2013—the same year the team first asked John to attend their workshops. But John has faithfully taken up the torch in Kapiapo’s place, helping to bring the Scriptures to the Lewo people.

John is continuing to learn more about God’s Word and how it can impact both his life and the lives of people in his village. “I see that people are mixing belief and traditional thinking, but I have seen through this course that everything depends on belief in Christ,” John said.

???????????????????????????????It’s that belief that is helping him deepen his knowledge of God’s Word. The Lewo New Testament is still waiting to be published, so pray that it would be printed quickly and distributed among the people. John isn’t just the chief of his village; he’s also working to teach and explain the truths found in Scripture, and to help his people learn how to really use it for themselves.

*One of Wycliffe’s primary partners

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Kate & Mack are here3We’re so excited to share with you that as of this week, Wycliffe’s newest publication, “Around the World with Kate and Mack: A Look at Languages from A to Z” is available for purchase at shop.wycliffe.org. It’s definitely something you’ll want to add to your children’s bookshelves as they learn about the beauty of God’s creation and the diversity of his people!

Kate & Mack are here2In this book you and your family will be able to travel with Kate and Mack as they visit kids from all over the globe. You’ll meet Anna, Felipe, Kitella, Moses, Isabelle and others, learning more about their languages, cultures and a variety of fun facts that are unique to their countries. You’ll also learn about geography, maps and so much more!

And because we don’t want you to miss out on meeting Kate and Mack, we’re giving you a couple of sneak peeks from the book itself. But the fun doesn’t have to end with just the book. You can download interactive lessons and activities for your kids by visiting wycliffe.org/a-z right now! And don’t forget to sign up so we can notify you Kate & Mack are herewhen new activities are available.

In these activities your kids will help solve mazes, decode secret messages, learn what their name might be if they lived in Ghana (hint: people are often named after the day of the week they were born on!), and more. So what are you waiting for? Come travel with Kate and Mack today!

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By David Anderson with Matt Petersen

“As I waited outside one of the local morgues in Yaoundé for the ‘levée du corps’ (removal of the body) to take to the church for the memorial service … I was amazed at the number of people that were there during the work day,” said David Anderson, who serves with Wycliffe in Cameroon, Africa.

Sadly, the wife of one of David’s Cameroonian colleagues had just passed away. Following local custom, David was at the morgue to pay his respects and to show his love and support for his friend.

Hope at the Morgue“I found it hard to imagine hundreds of people standing outside in the States waiting with you for a loved one’s body to be released,” said David. But here in Cameroon, a crowd outside the morgue is a common sight, “along with all the vendors who walked by offering to sell nuts, tissues, a piece of gum, or even an egg sandwich.”

“There were easily three times more people there than those who went to the actual church service,” David continued. “We waited about an hour and a half, and then they carried her coffin to the car that would transport her to the church. I didn’t go to the final burial. … It was ten hours away from where I live. They drove all night to get there to bury the body the next day.”

Many at the morgue were part of the Oku language community, which recently celebrated the completion of its New Testament translation. Another colleague of David’s had brought a copy of the translation to give to the colleague who had lost his wife, and, while they waited, she asked an Oku woman sitting beside her to read from it so others could listen and be encouraged. The woman agreed, but, although she spoke Oku, she’d never read in the language before.

“As we sat under the overhang outside the mortuary,” David said, “she had her first literacy lesson in Oku.”

The woman began by reading 1 Corinthians 15:20, “But in fact, Christ has been raised from the dead. He is the first of a great harvest of all who have died,” (NLT).

Although their hearts were heavy with the loss of a loved one, hearing this Scripture in their mother tongue was a huge encouragement to the Oku Christians gathered around—a reminder of the eternal hope we have in Christ Jesus.

The woman then read Revelation 7:17, “For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes,” (NLT).

Finishing the verse, she said, “Reading this took away my tears.”

That’s just the sort of thing we love to hear!

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The Impact of Women in Literacy and Education

By Katie Kuykendall

DSC_0344I take great delight in losing myself in a good book, and I come by it honestly. I remember my mom always reading some kind of novel or devotional in her spare time when I was growing up, and she encouraged my sister and me to do the same. For years our holiday tradition was to curl up on the couch with her on Christmas Eve while she read us a Christmas story.

My mom’s mom, another lover of books, is a retired librarian—always reading, always learning. To this day most of my family members can expect to receive a book from my grandma every Christmas. I once turned my room into a library, just like Grandma’s, so friends and neighborhood kids could check out books from my bookshelf. I even wrote a few stories of my own as a kid.

Whenever I walk into a used book store, the smell of aging pages and ink triggers strong memories of Grandma’s house, where my sister and I would rummage through countless bookshelves stocked full of stories, history books, and the like. I could always count on Grandma to counsel me about the importance of expanding my mind, reading every chance I got, and taking full advantage of any chance to get an education.

All my life, these matriarchs of my family have been shaping me into a woman who values literacy and takes pride in her education. That’s why I was proud to graduate from the same college they both attended.

They’ve also taught me to consider myself a lifelong learner. I’d say I’ve learned at least as much from authors as I have from my own experiences, and that’s one of the reasons I wanted to become a writer.

And for as long as I can remember, they’ve also been wise enough to teach me the importance of caring not just for my mind, but for my soul. I’ve always had at least one copy of the Bible to call my own. That’s how I got to know my Savior, learned to recognize His ways, and first found comfort in His promises.

So naturally the idea of kids growing up without these opportunities doesn’t sit well with me.

As a writer for Wycliffe, I recently traveled to Senegal where Wycliffe is funding literacy classes* for a minority language group. Girls there grow up following in very different footsteps. Until recently, educating women has never been a priority, and it’s still a big struggle now. And they’re not alone—66 million girls worldwide aren’t in school today.

686Sedhiou00546I met little girls whose mothers have never read to them because they don’t know how. And I looked into the eyes of teenage girls hurtling toward adulthood with a warped view of themselves and their families because they were never allowed an education.

They don’t have bookshelves like my grandma’s or even a single book in their homes, and they’ll never be encouraged to attend secondary school or college like I was. In many cases, it will actually be considered a waste of time and money to educate them.

And although the New Testament is planned to be printed in their language in 2015, they might never be able to read it for themselves like I have.

These girls haven’t had examples of driven, educated women to follow like I did. But their children can.

Through these free classes that allow them to learn in their language, they can be motivated women who understand the benefits of literacy and education. They can be moms and grandmas who instill that value in their families, and they can be agents of change for their communities.

*This literacy project is being coordinated by SIL International, Wycliffe’s primary strategic partner. Wycliffe funds projects like this because we want to see God’s Word accessible to all people in the language of their heart, and literacy is foundational to understanding translated Scripture. The Seed Company, another ministry partner, is currently translating the New Testament for this people group.

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By Catherine Rivard with Richard Gretsky

For much of the workshop, Susan, a Kwomtari speaker of Papua New Guinea, sat unobtrusively at her table, often resting her chin on her hands as she listened to the lectures. One of thirty participants from seven languages, Susan was attending the third of four workshops on Oral Bible Storytelling (OBS), a course that teaches Papua New Guineans how to memorize and retell Bible stories in a dramatic manner.

Quiet and humble, Susan rarely spoke in discussions, and so when she shyly walked to the front of the room, everyone grew silent. She stared at the ground for a moment, and then, breaking into a huge grin, Susan dove headfirst into the story of Moses fleeing Egypt. Waving her hands and darting around the room, the tiny woman became as fierce as Moses scolding the Hebrews, as cowering as shepherds, and as vivacious as Jethro’s daughters. As she finished the story, the room roared with laughter and applause; Susan beamed in delight—not being able to read no longer meant she couldn’t share God’s Word.

As a pastor’s wife with a deep faith, Susan’s inability to read has long been a great frustration to her, preventing her from leading well her women’s fellowship group or even telling Bible stories to her children. After she attended her first OBS workshop, Susan eagerly began sharing stories with her family and throughout the village, though some women in the fellowship became angry, accusing Susan of arrogance and not accepting their authority as literate members.

However, when Susan was asked to share a Bible story for the opening devotional for a regional women’s meeting, she gladly obliged. “How many of you can read?” she asked. A dozen of the 150 women raised their hands. “OBS helps you learn Bible stories and share them with your families—without needing to read.” Excited, the women sat listening, spellbound by the biblical story and the passion with which Susan told it.


The opposition that Susan had faced melted away, and instead, more of her people became excited about receiving God’s Word through OBS in their own lives!

After Susan’s husband saw the impact his wife was having, he found a way to help her use her strengths to impact others. And since then, Susan has been telling Bible stories in churches throughout the Kwomtari area, with her husband following her and preaching his sermons based on the message contained in the story she shared. Together, they are planning outreach trips to other Kwomtari villages and beyond.

Catherine Rivard is a linguist with Wycliffe Bible Translators in Papua New Guinea. She blogs here.

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