Living With Illiteracy

…more than 250 million women in Asia who are illiterate. Young girls might be denied an education or are too poor to receive one, and they suffer their whole life because of it.   A woman who can’t read faces many difficulties. She isn’t able to keep her children safe because she can’t read warning labels. She’s vulnerable to being cheated in the marketplace for lack of basic math skills, and she can be taken advantage of through bad contracts she doesn’t understand – Gospel for Asia

My son likes when I read to him.  At bedtime, he curls up next to me, snuggled against the pillows, while I read a Bible story.

Reading is one of my favorite past-times.  Ever since I was a little girl, I was always reading.  Every time you saw me, my nose was buried in a book.  I read books, magazines, comics, plays.  My love for reading led to my love for writing.  If I wasn’t eagerly turning the pages of a romance novel, I was writing short stories.  Nowadays I read mostly religious books and of course, my Bible.

How different my world would have been if I had grown up illiterate.  I can’t imagine not being able to read to my son or study my Bible.  Yet, this is the reality that Jeni experienced.  Poverty prevented her from attending school.  Sadly, many children take education for granted.  As a child Jeni would have loved the opportunity to go to school and learn.  Education is such a blessing.  It opens so many doors.

Living with illiteracy was hard for Jeni.  It robbed her of the joy of reading for herself and to her children.  She couldn’t read newspapers to keep up with current events.  She couldn’t write grocery lists, reminder notes or read street signs.  Can you imagine trying to get around the city when you can’t read the names of the streets or buildings?  Try to imagine not being able to help your child with his or her homework or a school project or read a report card, not to mention birthday and Mother’s Day cards.

When Jeni became a grandmother, her illiteracy weighed more on her.  “Sometimes my grandson and granddaughter asked me to help with their school homework, but I did not know what to do” she said.  Shame and embarrassment filled her because she couldn’t read or sign her own name.  Help and hope were just around the corner…

When Jeni was suffering from pain in her shoulders which the doctor’s couldn’t treat, she met a Christian from a local church who invited her to attend a worship service.  Jeni accepted.  When she shared her pain with a congregation of believers led by Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Ajay, they  joined together to lift her up in prayer to the Great Physician.  God set Jeni free from the pain several doctor visits and treatments could not cure and she grew to love Him.  She worshipped Him, rejoicing in His love, mercy and compassion.  God was about to set her free from something she had lived with most of her life…

Jeni could not read the Bible and discover the wonderful promises of God and teachings of Jesus.  Upon learning about her illiteracy, three Gospel for Asia-supported women missionaries serving the congregation encouraged her to join the literacy classes they taught for women in the community.  Words of encouragement helped Jeni to overcome her shyness and her eagerness to learn took over.  God was giving her the desires of her heart.  She persevered in her lessons and other women in the community saw her progress.  At her encouragement, these women joined the classes.  Soon other women joined too.  Not only were these classes unlocking the door of literacy but they were discovering the love of Christ.

In six months Jeni could read and write.  She was no longer living with illiteracy.  The door was permanently closed and a new door of opportunities had opened for her.  Her daughter was thrilled for her.  “I am very happy that my mother is able to read and write now by the help of women missionaries. These days, she is able to negotiate with the shopkeepers and writes her signature,” she said.  And now Jeni can read to her grandchildren and help them with their homework–things she couldn’t do for her own children.

Jeni thanks God for ending the struggle with illiteracy which she had endured for most of her life.  “Today,” she declares, “I am proud to say I am not illiterate.”

What a happy end to Jeni’s story.  You can help another woman to have a happy ending too by donating toward Gospel for Asia-supported Women’s Literacy today.  Help those struggling with illiteracy to discover the God who wants to free them and the Saviour who loves them.

Bless the LORD, O my soul,  And forget not all His benefits – Psalm 103:2

jeni

Source:  Gospel for Asia

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