Home ANS Feature Robbed by Illiteracy

Robbed by Illiteracy

by Michael Ireland

WILLS POINT, TEXAS (ANS) — Jeni studied the curling lines and shapes on her grandson’s homework paper. With a sigh, she handed it back, knowing a great treasure lay within those squiggles and loops, but she lacked the key to unlock it.

Years earlier, poverty had hindered Jeni from attending school, leaving her illiterate in a world filled with written information. While many children took education for granted, Jeni longed for the opportunity to attend school.

Gospel For Asia says many women, like Jeni, also have never learned to read. They hunger for God’s Word, but can only stare at the pages of the Bible, unable to read them.

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This woman, like Jeni, also never learned to read

According to Gospel For Asia, Jeni’s lack of education impacted her childhood and adult life in a multitude of ways. Illiteracy deprived her of the joy of reading stories—both to herself and, later, to her five children. Unable to read newspapers, the current events of her nation had to reach her by word of mouth. Street signs were useless when finding her way around a new area. No reminder notes or shopping lists could be written. What’s more, Jeni could have looked straight at the written name of Jesus and never have known it.

Although Jeni was blessed with good health, her husband succumbed to an illness when Jeni was only in her 20s. As the sole provider for her children, she worked hard to learn tailoring and managed to earn an income through her stitching work. But without literacy and basic math skills, Jeni and other women like her were often cheated by dishonest shopkeepers, making already tight budgets even tighter.

As years passed, Jeni’s children married, and she became a grandmother. Even then, her illiteracy troubled her.

Jeni felt ashamed of her inability to read or to sign her own name, and she had no idea the gift of literacy—and eternal hope—was just around the corner at a local church.

Answered Prayer Points Widow to Jesus

In addition to her problems caused by illiteracy, Jeni suffered from pain in her shoulders. Even after several doctor visits and treatments, she found no remedy for the pain—until she met a believer from a local church. Jeni accepted the believer’s invitation to attend a worship service and soon sat amidst a congregation of believers led by Gospel for Asia-supported pastor Ajay.

Just as Jeni received prayer, both believers and unbelievers can receive prayer at local churches in Asia.

When Jeni shared about her painful shoulders, Pastor Ajay and the believers joined together to lift her up in prayer to the Great Physician. Faithful and mighty, God touched Jeni and set her free from the pain she was enduring. Jeni grew to love the Lord with all her heart and began faithfully worshiping Him alongside her new family in Christ, rejoicing in God’s demonstration of mercy and compassion.

Now a fledgling believer in Christ, Jeni was again hindered by illiteracy. She had no way to read her Savior’s words or read the stories of God’s faithfulness toward His children in the Bible.

The ministry says that when three Gospel for Asia-supported women missionaries serving the congregation learned of Jeni’s difficulty, they encouraged her to join the literacy classes they taught for women in the community. Naturally a shy person, Jeni attended the first lesson timidly.

“Don’t lose heart,” one of the sisters encouraged her. “Believe in God and do your best.”

Gospel for Asia-supported women missionaries gently guided Jeni (right) as they taught her to read and write.

After the first lesson, however, Jeni’s excitement overcame her shyness, and she eagerly joined the other women learning to read. The skill she had longed to learn for so long was finally within reach!

“I am so thankful to God and our women missionaries for their help,” Jeni shared. “Though I had the desire [to learn], I never went to school.”

The GFA ministry update says Jeni persevered in her lessons and diligently learned from the women missionaries. They guided her hand as she learned her letters, and soon the strange loops and lines she had seen on her grandson’s paper began to hold meaning.

Other women in Jeni’s community observed her progress in her studies, and Jeni encouraged them to join the classes as well. Soon, a few more ladies joined the classes to decipher the same letters that had baffled Jeni for so many years.

No longer held back by illiteracy, Jeni (pictured) now reads her Bible for herself and can grow in her knowledge of God’s Word.

As these women worked through a Gospel for Asia-supported literacy curriculum used to educate thousands of other women across Asia, they soon found reason to rejoice. Utilizing Scripture as a foundation for teaching, the curriculum not only helps women enter the world of literacy, but it also helps them discover the love of Christ.

Within six months, Jeni could both read and write. Jeni’s children happily watched their mother’s progress and celebrated her ability to do simple things that had troubled her before.

“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 writes her signature.”

Jeni’s excitement over her new skill soars, and she thanks God for ending the struggle that troubled her for decades.  “Today,” Jeni declared, “I am proud to say I am not illiterate.”

Jeni’s new skills enable her to perform daily life activities that were impossible before attending the literacy classes, and she is now equipped to learn more about the Great Physician who healed her and gave her new life.

You can help other women discover hope and freedom from illiteracy by donating toward Gospel for Asia-supported Women’s Literacy today. https://www.gfa.org/women/literacy/#report-video

The author of this story, Michael Ireland, is a self-supported media missionary with ANS. Click here to support him as a missionary journalist. 



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