BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS | Kaley Payne
Friday 26 June 2016
It’s the end of the financial year and we’ve got some tax-deductible ideas for you where your generosity could give the gift of literacy to people around the world.
1. Bring hope and healing for South Sudan
Refugees in South Sudan will find hope and healing in God’s word thanks to a Bible Society project that teaches them to read the Bible.
2.2 million people were displaced by the civil war which began in 2013. Thousands of ordinary families are now refugees in their own country. Among them are the Shilluk people who fled their homeland in the north where the fighting is worst. now they are in Juba, the capital – traumatised and hopeless in crowded refugee camps.
“Waves of people in these camps are coming to faith and they long to read God’s word,” says Edward Kajivora, who leads Bible Society’s team in South Sudan.
The Bible could be a catalyst for change in the midst of crisis in this young nation, and Edward can’t keep up with the demand for Scripture among refugees. He’s distributing 50 times more Bibles than before the war. Yet three-quarters of South Sudan’s adults are cut off from its transforming words because they can’t read.
Over three years, Bible Society-funded literacy classes will give 6,400 refugees the opportunity to discover the Scriptures for themselves and help build a better future for South Sudan.
2. Change everything for a woman in Pakistan, by helping teach her to read
Thanks to your generosity, hundreds of literacy classes took place in Pakistan during 2015 and 7,200 women learned to read.
At a ceremony held in Sheikhupura, about an hour’s drive from Lahore, about 500 Bibles were awarded to graduating students from the local area and surrounding villages. “I was totally illiterate before coming to the class,” says Zeenat (name changed for her protection). “Now I can read stories from the Bible and read them to my children. I can also write my name. Thank you for making it possible.”
Bible Society’s Beacon of Light literacy project is transforming women’s lives even in the most challenging of situations, including areas of Pakistan like Peshawar, where the education rate is very low and women’s freedoms are particularly restricted.
“for these women, it’s like coming out of slavery,” says Yousuf Jala Fill, who helps coordinate the literacy classes. “They are so grateful that people in Australia have thought about them.”
This year, Bible Society aims to teach thousands more women to read – with your help.
3. Give the gift of literacy in Laos and Nuoxong will learn to read the Bible too
Nuoxong didn’t have the opportunity to go to school as a child. Only the sons in her family of eight children had that privilege.
Nuoxong is from an ethnic group which practices shamanism and ancestor worship.
She was sick and afraid when she first went to church, but she was transformed when she heard the gospel. When the pastor gave her a Bible in her own language, she treasured it, but she couldn’t read it. On his advice she went to Chiang Mai to study the Bible and learn to read.
Nuoxong’s mother became a Christian too, but sadly the rest of the family continue to practice ancestor worship and she can no longer live in the family home.
Nuoxong lives alone and earns a living by buying and selling desserts in a small shop. Every night she reads her Bible in her mother tongue, which brings her great comfort. However, she wants to learn to read Lao too, so she has joined the Bible Society’s literacy class.
As a Sunday school teacher, most training is conducted in Lao and if she wants to gain access to more Bible resources, she must be literate in Lao.
An estimated 1500 people will benefit from classes like the one Nuoxong attends. Participating in the Bible Society’s Scripture and Media Based Literacy Programme will equip them to read the Bible for themselves the more meaningfully contribute to their communities.
4. Help us relieve heavy burdens in Vietnam
At 24 years old, La Van Sua is the most educated person in his village, and the pastor of a church of 80 people. But La Van Sua didn’t finish high school. Conditions in his village were poor, and his family needed him. He comes from a subsistence farming family – they, just like the majority of his village, live off what they can grow. Education is a luxury here.
La Van Sua feels the weight of responsibility for the Christians in his village. Over 30 per cent cannot read or write. They rely on him to preach the word so that they might listen.
For La Van Sua, one of the biggest issues is trying to grow people in their faith. “Those who can’t read, just come and listen,” he says. “But the problem is, how to help them understand.”
Bible Society in Vietnam is partnering with local churches to begin Bible-based literacy classes in the country. The literacy project is in its first year, based on a successful model used in Cambodia to teach thousands of people to read through church networks. The classes are audio-based so there’s no need to have trained teachers – a scarce skill across northern Vietnam. Instead, participants will be able to listen to the classes and follow along with written materials.
“This is a first for us in Vietnam,” said Arun Sok Nhep, the chief executive of Bible Society in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. But he says it is an essential next step in the growth of the church in Vietnam. “We’re targeting the minorities – particularly in the north of Vietnam – for our classes, because it is they who often don’t have access to education.”
5. Give disadvantaged kids in South Africa a fighting chance at school
In South Africa, Grade R is the first year of schooling but historically this was an optional grade, only available in certain schools – usually in wealthy areas dominated by white people. Now, Grade R is compulsory, but only on paper. In practice, regulation is lax, there aren’t enough Grade R places for every child and teaching materials for Grade R often don’t make it to poorer or independent schools.
In 2016, Bible Society will reach 80,000 South African children, providing copies of the My First Bible Do and Learn Book or the My Second Bible Do and Learn Book in English, Afrikaans, Xhosa and Sesotho languages. Three other languages – Setswana, Zulu and Sepedi – will have materials developed in 2016 also. With these Bible-based resources, children aged four and five who might otherwise be left behind in their learning will gain basic literacy and numeracy skills in preparation for Grade 1.