Literacy and the Bible

Today is International Literacy Day. UNESCO first started this worldwide enterprise on 8th September 1965, aiming to highlight the importance of literacy to individuals, communities and societies.

Why is it so important for the United Bible Societies? Well, the choice to engage in literacy activities is an integral part of a Bible Society’s mission – we want people to be able to read and engage with the Bible, to read it for themselves and find God’s meaning for their life through it’s words and stories.

Read on to find out how learning to read has brought Liu Guanxian closer to God.


Hongze Lake is China’s fourth largest fresh water lake. It is nearly 350km north of Shanghai, and owing to the severe flooding in that area, the lake has quadrupled in size since the 12th century.

In a small fishing village on Hongze Lake, lives Liu Guanxian. Liu is a crab farmer, and relies on the lake for his livelihood. Coming from a big family, Liu didn’t get a chance to go to school. He attends Life Spring Church in the village, where about two-thirds of the 500-600 believers are illiterate.

Literacy classes in church

But now, thanks to the work of the United Bible Societies China Partnership, Liu attends literacy classes at the church where the Bible is used to teach people how to read and write.

“Because we have a better knowledge of the Word of God, we experience more peace and joy,” said Liu. “Now, I am so glad to be able to make simple notes during sermons and review it at home after the service.”

Sermon: “Serving Jesus is a blessing” Exodus 23:25-26

The Bible having a dual-purpose

At the literacy class, phrases like “believe in Jesus” and “we love one another” are written on the blackboard, reflecting what is being taught in that lesson.

It is a joy to hear that the Bible is not only giving the people around Hongze Lake much-needed literacy skills but also bringing them closer to God too!


This story was featured in our bi-annual magazine Alive & Active Issue 76! Click here if you would like to receive Alive & Active by post. Our next issue will be out very soon!