Papi has been a Christian for 9 years but she has only recently been able to start reading the Bible for herself – thanks to Scripture books designed for children.
“Sorry, I’m a very poor reader,” says Papi apologetically, as she sits on the floor at the Bible Society office in Vientiane, Laos, looking through Scripture books designed for children.
But 57-year-old, affectionately-named Papi (her real name is Ken Hom) has nothing to be ashamed of. Brought up in a very poor family, her parents weren’t able to send her to school. As far back as she can remember she’s always had to work – either as a cook or a cleaner. Today, as well as being the live-in caretaker at a local church, she’s a part-time cleaner at the Bible Society.
It was here, two years ago, that she first started looking at children’s Scriptures as a way of getting into God’s Word. After she meticulously cleans and tidies the office, she can often be found paging through the colourful books in the children’s section.
Desperate to read the Bible
“I’ve been desperate to read the Bible since I first became a Christian 9 years ago,” she says. “So I prayed and prayed to God to give me some insight. Since working here, that prayer has really started to be answered.”
The very first book that Papi picked up and tried to read was the story of Noah.
“I couldn’t read at all but the pictures gave me an idea of the story,” she explains.
Helped her learn to read
Noticing her interest, the Bible Society staff started to help her learn to read during their lunch breaks. Now, Papi can read simple sentences.
“Now, I can read the story of Noah for myself and I am discovering the story of the 12 tribes using the pictures and the text. It is fascinating! I am so happy that I am really starting to read, and that God’s Word is revealing itself to me.”
Papi is glad that the Bible Societies are providing so many colourful Scriptures for children because they will not only bless children, but many adults, too.
“Most farmers here can’t read and it’s too late for them to go to school. But with these books, the children will be able to read the stories to their parents. The illustrations will also really help the children and adults to understand the meaning.”
(Story and photo by Grace Smith, British and Foreign Bible Society)