Posts Tagged ‘Literacy’

God’s Push and Pull

Thursday, April 13th, 2017 by Martin Horton

When Rebecca* was sent, by the voluntary organisation she joined aged 18, to a country in Southeast Asia, little did she know that she was destined to spend a significant portion of her life in that country.

She later returned there to serve as a literacy worker for minority language groups. Rebecca has recently reached her ten-year milestone with Wycliffe.

God uses many ways to direct our path. Here’s a glimpse of Rebecca’s experience:

In my case, God used a combination of ‘push’ and ‘pull’ factors to get me to apply to become a full-time missionary. The ‘push’ factors included dissatisfaction with my career and prospects, and a lack of desire to settle down into what I saw as a mundane life. The ‘pull’ factors included longing to see the country where I had spent my gap year; hankering after adventure, travel, challenge and excitement; and my training at Bible school which had focused on missions.’

 Working overseas isn’t always easy. Here’s Rebecca again:

By nature, I am an individual pioneer type. However, God had plans to mould me into more of a team player. He sent me to a highly group-oriented culture, and I had to adjust. One small example of this is having colleagues who love to seek an occasion to all dress the same. Even if the prescribed outfit or colour everyone agrees upon looks awful on me, I still have to wear it!’

Praise God that Rebecca has known God’s peace and abundance though the past decade:

‘The Lord has enabled me to weather many storms during my time on the mission field and I have discovered the peace that comes with personal and spiritual growth. This is part of what Jesus meant when he said that he has come to give us “life, and life more abundantly” (John 10:10).’

Please pray:

  • for Rebecca to continue to become a better team player, recognising and maximising her strengths
  • for what God is doing through literacy work amongst the people of South East Asia
  • for us all to be receptive to the different ways that God speaks to us; that we may hear and obey whenever he calls and however he asks us to serve.

Why not subscribe to our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and it contains a prayer diary with daily pray requests to help you pray specifically for Bible translation around the globe.

*Names changed for security reasons

Full steam ahead for the Kamuku project

Thursday, March 30th, 2017 by Martin Horton

Your prayers make a difference, even from a long-distance. One of the featured projects in our prayer goody bag Finishing in God’s time is the Kamuku project in Nigeria. A lady in Scotland started praying for Bible translation to begin there, in the early 1980s. She carried on praying until 2009 when the project had started.

The Kamuku project started slowly in order to establish strong roots and has faced many challenges so we asked you to pray. Praise God, exciting things are happening; God is answering your prayers.

On 7th April, the Gospel of Luke will be launched in Kamuku both as a book and as audio recordings on SD-cards. This will be great for those who have not yet learned to read or just prefer to communicate orally.

To help the Kamuku people use Scripture well and understand it, listening group leaders have been specially trained. They have audio players to use and gospel Scripture materials with which they hope to engage the group members.

That’s not all. The Gospel of Mark has been sent off to their translation consultant for checking and the team is now working on Acts and some of the shorter epistles. They feel that they are experiencing a major boost and that it’s full steam ahead!

Here are some ways that you can pray for the continued progress of the Kamuku project:

  • Praise God for the printer who is printing 1000 copies of Luke. Pray that they are good quality and available in good time for the launch.
  • Pray that the launch will boost interest in learning to read and write and that the project will be able to meet any increase in demand.
  • Pray that many will come along to the listening groups and that many lives will be changed as a result.
  • Pray the committee has wisdom as they use funds raised from the sale of the books. It is hoped that there will be enough money to employ a full-time translator.

Check out our goody bags and pray for significant needs faced by Bible translation projects.

Subscribe to receive our free magazine Words for Life. It’s packed full of interesting articles and prayer information.

Bible translation 101: Why is literacy important?

Thursday, September 8th, 2016 by Camilla

You probably know that Wycliffe Bible Translators does more than what it says on the tin – in addition to translating the Bible for language communities big and small across the world, we also have a passion for empowering people to engage with the word of God (Scripture engagement), and literacy.

high-voltage-1553669-640x480What does literacy mean to you? Maybe not all that much, if you’ve never needed to navigate the world without it. But learning to read isn’t just about being able to read the Bible and other books.

What if you couldn’t read vital information on a medicine bottle? What if you couldn’t email your best friend when they moved to another town? What if you couldn’t even tell the time? These are all everyday tasks most people in the Western world do without thinking – but these tasks all require a certain level of literacy.

Exclusively oral communities may also face major barriers to higher education, earning money, and community development.

Wycliffe Bible Translators wants to unlock new opportunities for people groups who have been limited by a lack of literacy.

We work with communities to develop intuitive writing systems (or orthographies, to use the technical term) that language communities recognise as their own and that help adults and children learn to read within as short a time as possible. How long it takes to learn to read varies from language to language and person to person, but an adult who is new to reading may learn to read confidently within six months to a year.

‘…for a long time, there were no [Ngbaka] schools at all. Now I am very glad to be learning to read and write. Now I am educated! I can read and write in Ngbaka. I can read and understand God’s word, and now we have the entire Bible in our language!’ – a woman from the Ngbaka community of the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Pray for literacy around the world!

  • Pray that God would inspire Wycliffe workers as they work to unlock opportunities for people groups through literacy.
  • Pray for harmony and consensus as teams develop intuitive writing systems for previously unwritten languages.
  • Pray that literacy would open doors around the world not only for people to engage with the Bible, but for large-scale community change.

Want to connect with or start supporting a specific project or missionary? Get the ball rolling on our Connect page.

Obura Bible reprint

Monday, August 15th, 2016 by Camilla

The Bible in the Obura language of Papua New Guinea was first printed in 1982, but many Obura Bibles were never used, as not many people could read. Then, a literacy programme was started which ended up changing everything. Watch the video to see what happened!

For more about why literacy is an important part of our work, check out our Bible translation 101 post about literacy.

Thinking outside the box

Friday, December 5th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Sometimes we consider the needs around the world and feel overwhelmed. Maybe we even consider how we can go and make a difference and then doubt that the skills we have would be useful.

Here are the stories of two British teachers who instead of going overseas to be teachers, used their teaching skills to make a difference as literacy specialists.

Barbara tells us:

img87‘I spent over twenty years as a teacher in London. Later I became an advisory teacher leading in-service courses for teachers. Helping children, young people and adults to develop and enjoy using their literacy skills was one of the best aspects of my different roles.

When, in 2002, I stood in front of 25 educators as a literacy specialist, I had had the year-long Wycliffe training in which Literacy was one of the components. However, in order to facilitate the development of a mother tongue education programme I leaned heavily on the experiences I gained from teaching. I used the skills I developed through teaching to help participants to develop their writing ability in the mother tongue and to write stories that would appeal to new and developing readers. Some of those stories became books now being used in schools.’

In contrast, Liz’s story goes like this:

‘I was a teaching assistant (TA) with primary school children for two years before my husband and I went to work in a project in South West Tanzania as literacy workers. There were many differences between my TA work in Sheffield and literacy work in Tanzania, as you can imagine!

In Tanzania I was primarily focused on a Basic Literacy programme with preschool children. I was mainly involved in preparing resources and training teachers to deliver them, rather than interacting with the children themselves as I had done previously. However, I used many of the same skills; preparing lessons and working out how to use the resources available to engage children with literacy. Most importantly, my aims were ultimately the same and I was excited about enabling children to reach their full potential and all the opportunities being literate would open up for them, not least to be able to read the Word of God.’

Please join us as we pray:

  • For God to call many to literacy work, especially those who already have transferable skills.
  • For those who are actively considering if God is calling them to work overseas with Wycliffe. Some of those will be attending First Steps events early next year. Pray they will clearly know what God is calling them to.

See where in the world you could go to make a difference as a literacy specialist.

International Literacy Day

Monday, September 8th, 2014 by Ruth

For over 40 years now, UNESCO has been celebrating International Literacy Day, reminding the international community that literacy is a human right and the foundation of all learning.  This video from UNESCO South Sudan gives a profoundly touching insight into the struggles of a nation facing staggering illiteracy rates.

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The South Sudanese have suffered the deep disruption of war, resulting in closed or destroyed schools and a generation of children left illiterate in its wake.  Add to that the challenges of educating nomadic communities, constantly on the move in pursuit of grazing land. Yet there is no doubt that leaders in South Sudan see literacy as key to bringing peace and hope to their nation.

For the illiterate now – many of whom are ex-combatants – job opportunities are extremely limited.  As one man remarked of violence still prevalent within South Sudan,

‘A hungry man is an angry man.’

Yet teacher Jacob Oruru and many others like him believe literacy is the answer.

‘Literacy helps to reduce violence… because once you are literate, you know what is good and what is bad.’

All the more so when Scripture becomes available in the mother tongue, as Wycliffe and partner organisations work with local translators worldwide to develop minority languages, creating alphabets, dictionaries, health and educational materials.  Ultimately the New Testament or entire Bible becomes available in a way that communities can understand, and in a way that transforms hearts and minds.

How to make a little go a long way

Monday, April 14th, 2014 by Hannah

Chris and Marina are working in Senegal with the Manjak community. Their work is incredibly important for Bible translation, as this video from Wycliffe USA shows, but they aren’t Bible translators – that work is done by Manjak people. So what do Chris and Marina contribute?

Chris and Marina are literacy specialists, working with Wycliffe’s linguistic partners SIL International. Watch the video to see how their work helps a little Scripture go a long way:

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The Power of Bible Translation and Literacy from Wycliffe USA on Vimeo.

‘It wasn’t as if I wanted to translate the Bible into Manjak. It was that I needed to translate the Bible into Manjak. God’s word is something of greatness, and it’s for all the Manjak people. If the word of God was translated and nobody was able to read, that would make me very, very sad.’ Pierre Nassadiou, Manjak Bible translator

Working with local communities to develop literacy programmes allows many people to access God’s word for themselves for the first time. It also opens up doors to education, health information and legal rights in communities that have been denied these in the past.

If it’s something you feel passionate about, find out more about literacy roles in Wycliffe and the literacy work SIL does.

Why learn to read Manjak?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014 by Hannah

In Senegal and much of the west of Africa, the official language is French. French is what you learn at school, the language of official documents and what the news on the main TV stations is read in. So if everyone wants to speak French, why worry about teaching Manjak speakers to read their own language?

This was the question that a lot of Manjak speakers had when linguistic specialists started helping to plan literacy work among the adults and mother-tongue lessons at school for the children. In the video below from Wycliffe USA, some of those who’ve been part of the literacy programme, including UK Wycliffe members Chris and Marina Darby, speak about why learning Manjak is worth it:

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Marina says she keeps speaking to people who, explaining why they want to learn to read Manjak, say, ‘It’s our language!’ and that one woman explained that it’s like seeing by her own lamp now.Literacy helps members of minority language communities embrace and use their language, learn other languages more easily and have access to a wealth more information. It’s a crucial part of the Bible translation ministry. Find out what you could do to be involved.

You wrote the book that taught us this

Friday, March 14th, 2014 by Jo Johnson

Becoming literate can have a much greater impact on ordinary people’s lives than simply being able to read the newly translated Scripture, as this story from Ghana shows:

Matthew (right) with literacy books behind him

Matthew (right) with literacy books behind him

‘Towards the end of 2013 Hanga literacy worker Matthew Mprah was on his literacy team motorbike taking a cross-country track. A farmer ran out onto the track to flag him down. He said that he and his brother were working on their farm when the brother accidentally cut his leg while using his cutlass and that Matthew should come and help.

Matthew went with him and found that the injured man was lying on his back with leaves tied around the  wound and with the leg raised, supported by a stick. Matthew asked, “How did you know to tie leaves around the wound and to raise the leg to reduce bleeding?” The man replied “What! Are you not the people who wrote the book that taught us this?” The Hanga literacy book of extracts from Where there is no doctor was published in 1987 and re-published in 1996. These men have never been to school, but one of them remembered what that book, written in Hanga, had taught them.’

  • Praise God for the impact that literacy has had on the lives of many who have not had the opportunity for a formal education.
  • Praise God classes have been so successful that more of each of the Hanga reading primers are needed as well as further copies of the training book for school teachers.  Please pray that God will provide all the necessary funds for these books and to bring the teachers together for training.
  • Deforestation is a problem in the Hanga area of Ghana. Pray for a new booklet that is ready for distribution to promote planting fruit trees to help combat this problem.

Find out more about the impact of literacy and Bible translation in Ghana.

‘I’m not going alone!’

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 by Hannah

Clare is one of the latest people to sign up with Wycliffe in the UK to serve Bibleless people around the world. After training, now she’s off to Senegal. We asked her about what’s waiting for her in West Africa and how she’s feeling about all the changes…

clare-orrAs I write, it is just over a week until I leave for Senegal to begin a literacy assignment with SIL [Wycliffe’s linguistic partner overseas]. I completed my initial training at Redcliffe College in December and can’t wait to put some of what I learnt into action. I greatly enjoyed my time at Redcliffe; there was a real sense of community among the students, who come from all over the world and hope to serve God in many different countries.

Once in Senegal, I will spend the first few months in Dakar, getting stuck in to learning the culture and the language. I love language learning and especially learning about life in other cultures, so I’m looking forward to this part, especially as I know it will also be preparing me for what’s next.

A literacy class in DR Congo. Photo: Heather Pubols.

A literacy class in DR Congo. Photo: Heather Pubols.

During my time in Dakar, we will figure out where the best assignment for me will be. With a national literacy rate of only 40%, there is plenty of literacy work to be done in Senegal. SIL help to provide adult literacy classes as well as assisting with the provision of mother-tongue education in primary schools, before pupils make a transition to being taught in French. These are two key areas and I am looking forward to finding out where I fit into this!

Of course, as my date for leaving gets closer, nerves are setting in too, about whether I’ll settle in, whether I’ll be able to learn the language or cope with the weather and how much I’ll miss home. However, I go confident in the knowledge that I’m not doing this alone – it has been such an encouragement to see how God has led me here and has brought people together to partner with me. I am going to Senegal along with God and all my partners back home and am thankful to God for this assurance.

In Senegal, West Africa and the rest of the world, there are big needs for people who can help others to learn to read and write, giving them access to education, healthcare and the powerful and life-changing words of the Bible. What could you do?