BIBLE SOCIETY NEWS | Kaley Payne
Friday 14 August 2015
Reverend Wirgan Mwape knows how important it is for his church members to be able to read, and to read the Bible. It’s why he has committed his churches, within the United Church of Zambia, to be a partner in Bible Society’s new literacy class programme that’s due to start at the end of this year.
Rev Mwape oversees three church congregations, each with about 150 members, in Lusaka, Zambia’s capital. One of his churches, St Thomas is in Bauleni, a slum compound in the capital’s south-eastern outskirts. It’s high-density housing has been called “squalid” by Zambian politicians, with outbreaks of dysentery caused by poor sanitation and lack of access to clean water.
When pastors of the United Church of Zambia, including Reverend Mwape, came together for prayer and planning last year, concerns were raised about poverty, early marriages, poor sanitation, corruption and abuse through Zambia’s church community.
The other concern, and one that, if addressed, Reverend Mwape believes might positively impact on several of the other concerns for those in his church is illiteracy. He says Bible Society’s literacy programmes have come at an opportune time to address some of the other health, crime and lifestyle issues his congregations are facing.
“Biblical illiteracy needs to be fought through a literacy programme. I have spoken to our people about literacy classes, and they are ready and waiting!” said Rev Mwape.
Bible Society Australia is helping the Bible Society in Zambia start literacy programmes, run through churches, that are based on biblical materials.
Churches throughout Zambia report that functional literacy levels in their congregations is as low as 40 per cent. That’s six in ten people who can’t read that come to church each week.
The opportunity for life changing impact is great, says Bible Society Australia’s international programmes manager, Chris Melville. He’s asking Australian churches to helping a church like Reverend Mwape’s get their literacy programmes off the ground, to teach church members how to read and write, using biblical materials.
“Not only will they be able to read the Bible for themselves – which we know has the power for real change in both behaviour and outlook – the people who come through the Zambian literacy classes will be empowered in their daily lives. Literacy changes lives,” says Mr Melville.
To get the literacy classes up and running, your church can help. Help us a launch a literacy class in Zambia this year. It costs just $750 to run one literacy class for 25 people. $1500 could teach 50 illiterate people in Reverend Mwape’s St Thomas’ church in Bauleni to read and write.
Your church’s generosity can help Bible Society record the lessons in audio, print the workbooks and recruit and train literacy class facilitators.
With your help, we’re aiming to set up literacy classes in five Zambian communities in our first year, where Bible translations into those community languages are already taking place.