Do You Remember When You Learned to Read?

K’a masoro Ala ye dinye kanu haali, fo aye a Denke kelenpe di, walisa mogo o mogo dara a Denke la, o kana halaki, nka o ka nyenamaya banbali soro. Yuhana 3: 16

It’s amazing that though you don’t speak Bamanakan (Bah ma na kahn), also known as Bambara, you were able to tell that the verse above is John 3:16. Based on your Bible knowledge, your intelligence, and your ability to read, it didn’t take it long to figure that out did it?

If you ask most literate people in first world nations if they remember when they couldn’t read, most would answer, “no.”  For those that learn to read as adults, they can recall the incredible feeling when the basics of reading “clicked” or that proverbial light bulb went off which made the characters on the page make sense.

Millions of West Africans have never had the experience of reading anything for themselves, much less God’s Word. More specifically, Mali has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, and that is particularly true among women and among all Malians over 15 living in the remote regions. Some of the stats say that only around 30% of the population of the median age, 15, through adults can read the direction signs shown here. In spite of the range of percentages found about the Malian literacy rate, they all indicate a literacy rate well under 50%.  During the recent discipleship conference and worship times among the Wassulu, one newly baptized brother  stood up and said to the crowd, “I am now a Christian and I have a Bible, but I can’t read it.” He was asking for help to learn how to read God’s written word.

Though we can’t address all of the issues and challenges of the educational system in Mali, we can consider what our roll will be in literacy education among the unreached people groups that we work among, starting with the Wassulu.  We are aware of some available materials, and we are looking into what new tools may have been developed since the last time we worked in Bamanakan literacy.

As we prayerfully consider our involvement in literacy among the Wassulu believers and their neighbors, we will also be praying for those who God will call out to be a part of this effort. Perhaps you will feel called out to volunteer in this area on a future team or offer support for materials.  How thrilling it would be to be watch a new believer learn to read God’s Word to himself!  What joy comes from seeing someone drawn to God as she learns to read in her own language using the Word and Christian teachings. Be watching for goals and plans in this area in the future!

Yesu togo la! (In Jesus’ Name!)

posted by slc

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