Have you ever wished there was a great miracle cure for poverty? Literacy, especially adult literacy, has been labeled such a great miracle cure! Why? Several factors go into this distinction. The definition of literacy itself gives us several concepts to consider:
“Literacy is the ability to read, write, speak and listen, and use numeracy and technology, at a level that enables people to express and understand ideas and opinions, to make decisions and solve problems, to achieve their goals, and to participate fully in their community and in wider society.”
In villages where literacy is increasing, those areas are seeing social and economic gains. In a special report published by Gospel for Asia, Karen Mains explains:
“Much data … gives good cause to make the assumption that learning to read and write is one of the ‘great miracle cures.’”
Adult literacy resources empower people to improve their lives and enable them to participate fully in their culture and community.
Illiteracy is a kind of intellectual limbo.
Even if the person is naturally very intelligent, if they are labeled “illiterate,” people may automatically assume they have a decreased mental capacity. Illiterate and unintelligent are often not one and the same. This preconceived idea makes it harder for illiterate people to get hired. They could be a very good salesperson or very proficient at a trade, but those skills are often overlooked because the person cannot read.
Being able to read impacts daily life.
The literate person can understand traffic signs, read news and weather reports, write reminder notes and shopping lists, read books, understand prices at the market, help their children with homework, and much more. Almost every aspect of life changes when someone learns to read. Technology is also highly dependent on being able to read. When an adult can’t read, these everyday tasks are difficult and sometimes impossible.
Literacy impacts parenting.
Think about how often you read in a given day. When parents can read, they can understand information written on medicine bottles, read helpful books, understand warning labels, and help their kids with schoolwork. When a parent is illiterate, they can’t help in these ways. Illiteracy adversely impacts their children.
As mentioned above, adult literacy impacts daily life.
Jeni, for example, never attended school and never learned to read. This left her illiterate in a world that revolves around written information. She longed to go to school, but she was denied. Her lack of education impacted her as a little girl and as an adult. She longed to read stories to her five children, but she was unable to even read newspapers or street signs. Jeni’s husband died of an illness early in their marriage, leaving Jeni as the sole provider for her children. She began working as a tailor, but she was often taken advantage of by dishonest shopkeepers. She couldn’t read the contracts or agreements, which left her vulnerable. She couldn’t even write her own name.
Jeni was invited to a local church service, where she heard about adult literacy classes the church was offering taught by two women missionaries. She eagerly joined the class and began learning to read. She persevered in her lessons and learned from the missionaries, who often guided her hand as she formed the letters. The strange lines and loops she had seen since childhood started making sense. The letters and symbols of her language gained meaning.
Jeni’s training also included understanding numbers and basic math. These skills are critical to breaking out of poverty. Jeni can now go to the market and understand prices.
Within six months, Jeni could read and write! Her children and grandchildren were so happy and celebrated with her. “I am very happy that my mother is able to read and write now by the help of women missionaries,” Jeni’s daughter shared. “These days, she is able to negotiate with the shopkeepers and write her signature.”
It’s amazing how adult literacy training can change a life.
That’s what miracle cures are about. The ability to read and write is a gift of immeasurable worth! GFA World recognizes the advantages of literacy and works with local missionaries to provide literacy classes to both men and women. Our literacy programs teach adults how to read for the first time. Participants also learn basic math so they can negotiate fair prices at the market and understand contracts.
There are more than 250 million women in Asia who are illiterate.
So many of these women long to read and write. They have goals, but no way to accomplish them. Will you join us in our goal to teach them how to read? In just one year, 61, 880 women were taught how to read and write by GFA World missionaries. That’s a lot of families who received a miracle cure!
Please give to GFA World’s literacy efforts. With your help, women in Asia can learn to read, equipping them to tackle life’s hurdles. GFA World missionaries are perfectly positioned to address the dilemmas caused by illiteracy. They have repeatedly witnessed the power literacy training has to spread Christ’s love, to lift individuals and families out of poverty, to change communities for the better.
1 “Defining Literacy.” Memorial Assistance Ministries / Literacy Advance of Houston. www.mamhouston.org/literacyadvance. Accessed 14 July 2019.
2 Mains, Karen Burton. “Literacy: One of the Great Miracle Cures.” GFA World. https://www.gfa.org/special-report/literacy-miracle-cure-illiteracy/