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A message from Greg Clarke

We ought to see the Bible everywhere, as a conversation partner in the joys and struggles of life, both big and small. We believe that the Bible is an everyday book, for everyone. It contains the wisdom of the ages and fresh words for us every sunrise.

That’s why we want to see it in everyone’s hands, every person meaningfully engaged with the rich and rewarding words of life. Thank you for sharing this vision and contributing to the task.

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Words that are here to stay

Shabnam Gulzar is an unmarried Christian woman living in Faisalabad, the second-largest city in Pakistan’s eastern province of Punjab. Having never attended school, she was illiterate but had to work to help feed her family and support her younger brothers’ and sisters’ education.

After five years working as a cleaner in a private school, Shabnam got the chance to join literacy classes at her local church, which were taught by her cousin.

Here she relates how these classes changed her life.

“I started studying after hours in the women’s literacy class,” she says. “During the last month of my class, one day my supervisor at my workplace asked me to check the attendance of other workers. I checked and signed on the register.

“From that day, our head assigned me as a supervisor of the sanitary workers. Now my salary is up and status is up because of the education. I am thankful for the Pakistan Bible Society, donors and my church for providing me such an opportunity for upgrading my life status.”

By becoming literate, Shabnam has gained a skill that can never be taken away. The literacy rate for women in Pakistan is one of the lowest in the world, largely due to the social structure that suppresses women’s rights. Women’s literacy rates vary from a modest 60+ per cent in the capital, Islamabad, to less than 20 per cent in some rural areas.

Christian women, who mostly live in these rural areas, are most likely to be illiterate. The sad reality is, many millions of Pakistani women are lacking this basic life skill, dramatically limiting their opportunities, and condemning them to shame, exploitation and poverty.

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For 30 years, the Pakistan literacy programme, known as Beacon of Light, has been giving Christian women the opportunity to read and write at literacy classes organised by their local church.

By becoming literate, Shabnam has gained a skill that can never be taken away. The literacy rate for women in Pakistan is one of the lowest in the world, largely due to the social structure that suppresses women’s rights. Women’s literacy rates vary from a modest 60+ per cent in the capital, Islamabad, to less than 20 per cent in some rural areas.

Christian women, who mostly live in these rural areas, are most likely to be illiterate. The sad reality is, many millions of Pakistani women are lacking this basic life skill, dramatically limiting their opportunities, and condemning them to shame, exploitation and poverty.

30

For 30 years, the Pakistan literacy programme, known as Beacon of Light, has been giving Christian women the opportunity to read and write at literacy classes organised by their local church.

The sad fact is that although these women have knowledge of God, their faith is not always well-grounded in Scripture. Moreover, they live in a country where their Christian faith is not always welcomed, as the notorious blasphemy case of Christian woman Asia Bibi shows.

The name of the project derives from the belief that when a woman is taught to read and write, she becomes a beacon to illuminate her family and community with the word of God. Being equipped with reading and writing skills can have a profound impact. At an individual level, women will be able to come to a better understanding of their faith through reading the Bible. They will also be able to encourage their family in their faith, and develop their Christian leadership.

At a household level, these women will be able to calculate any wages owed to them, read important documents such as medical instructions and utilities bills, and obtain better prices on household goods. They will also set a higher standard of education for their children, and may receive a greater level of respect from their husbands and extended family.

At a community level, having more highly educated women leads to many benefits, including the overall health and well-being of families, better employment conditions, and a more equal representation of women in leadership roles.

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Equipping these women to read and manage the household budget and calculate their wages correctly strengthens Christian families, as the experience of Parveen shows. Parveen’s mother died when she was young and she was too busy looking after her father and brother to be able to go to school.

The name of the project derives from the belief that when a woman is taught to read and write, she becomes a beacon to illuminate her family and community with the word of God. Being equipped with reading and writing skills can have a profound impact. At an individual level, women will be able to come to a better understanding of their faith through reading the Bible. They will also be able to encourage their family in their faith, and develop their Christian leadership.

At a household level, these women will be able to calculate any wages owed to them, read important documents such as medical instructions and utilities bills, and obtain better prices on household goods. They will also set a higher standard of education for their children, and may receive a greater level of respect from their husbands and extended family.

At a community level, having more highly educated women leads to many benefits, including the overall health and well-being of families, better employment conditions, and a more equal representation of women in leadership roles.

book

Equipping these women to read and manage the household budget and calculate their wages correctly strengthens Christian families, as the experience of Parveen shows. Parveen's mother died when she was young and she was too busy looking after her father and brother to be able to go to school.

“I myself was fond of education in my childhood but due to the load of work for my family I could not go to school in my childhood ... I was very interested to read the Bible but could not because of the illiteracy. Now I am so glad that I can read the Bible. When I read the Bible with family, my children listen very carefully because I read slowly. When I make a mistake, my children laugh and enjoy it,” she says, covering her face with her hands in embarrassment.

Parveen also benefited from the introduction in 2018 of a new mathematics subject to enable students to calculate wages, expenditures and complete other household duties. Parveen is glad that she can now calculate the accurate weight of the cotton plucked by the labouring women and pay them the correct wages.

At the age of 22, Parveen married and moved in with her in-laws in a neighbouring village. She is now 39 and has a son and two daughters.

Read the full article in the Autumn edition of Sower

Read the full article in the Autumn edition of Sower

About Us

Established in Sydney in 1817, Bible Society Australia’s activities take place as part of the United Bible Societies who operate across 200 countries and territories.

We are one of the most extensive mission groups in the world and do our work in partnership with churches, providing resources and Bible-focused campaigns and community programmes.

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