The ability to read and write is one that we may take for granted in this country.
As children we are fortunate enough to receive a free education and are given opportunities for work as we grow into adulthood.
This is not the case for many around the world, as it is estimated that still 1 billion people cannot read or write.
Literacy is about dignity, independence and wholeness. It is such a key requirement for life that UNESCO defines it as a human right.
That is why Bible Societies around the world are committed to providing Bible-based literacy materials and running literacy programmes.
They are partnering with churches and other organisations in their country to reach people with two goals in mind:
- Giving individuals basic literacy skills, which will hopefully in turn lead them to improving their quality of life.
- Teaching people around the world about Jesus Christ, through the life-transforming Word of God.
In 2018, 30 Bible Society literacy projects in nearly 60 languages helped around 162,000 people gain valuable reading and writing skills.
People like Mr Sovann in Cambodia, whose life has been transformed because of the literacy project run by the Bible Society of Cambodia.
Two years ago, he was unable to read or write, drank heavily and when his wife invited him to church with her, he would refuse. He had no interest in Christianity, and moreover, would get frustrated when his wife would read her Bible, as he longed to have the ability to read too.
Then the Bible Society launched a literacy programme in his village, aimed at helping children learn to read and write. His son was asked to be one of the class facilitators.
Curious to see his son in action, Mr Sovann attended one of the classes and sat quietly in the corner to watch.
Soon though, he was sitting on the floor with the children, listening to the lessons on an MP3 player and working his way through the literacy materials in the Khmer language.
At 38 years old, he began to read the Bible for the first time, and he felt his spirits lift and his heart open!
“I am a changed man!” said Mr Sovann, “I don’t drink or smoke, and my wife and I don’t argue so much.”
Mr Sovann is now one of the leaders in his church, and is commmitted to starting more literacy classes for adults and children in his district.
“It’s so important that parents send their children to school,” he added, “but it’s never too late to learn, even when you’re old.”
Executive Director of the Bible Society in Cambodia Pisit Heng spoke about the impact that the literacy project is having on the 8,500 people who take part in it each year.
“Wherever the project is implemented, there is less domestic violence and crime; people are able to find jobs or start small businesses, and churches grow.”
This story is one of many from across the fellowship that shows how the Word of God has the power to transform lives.
We are currently supporting Cambodia with a Bible distribution project – if you would like to read more about that, click the button below.