‘Before I couldn’t understand what we were told at church,’ said Kalla. ‘We used to go to church just out of respect for the pastor but now we read the texts ourselves and we understand them.'
Kalla is finally able to dig deeper into God’s word thanks to literacy classes in Niger. It’s one of the most impoverished countries in the world where Christians are a minority and face the constant threat of Islamist extremists.
Thanks to the kind giving of Bible Society supporters, Bible-based literacy classes enable people to read God’s word and tell others about the good news.
In some rural areas of this West African nation, only one in ten people can read and write. Thanks to the literacy classes, Christians are able to take lead roles in society and make a big difference in their communities.
Elisabeth, a teacher on one of the literacy courses, said, ‘The weekly market is held a very long way from our village. This means that only a few people can go there, and they have to shop for the people who don’t go. The better somebody is able to write, the better they can note down requests. This means that they can really help other villagers.’
Church life transformed
More people being able to read and write transforms the whole of Church life in ways you might not expect, explained Mariam, another woman taking part in the classes. ‘Before the literacy course nobody was able to write a church report because nobody knew how to read. This led to disputes because everybody had different recollections of what had been discussed previously.’
‘When we drew up accounts, there were always people who objected,’ said Mariam. ’Now I can produce reliable reports and accounts with the name, date and contribution of each member. Everybody is satisfied. If there are arguments, we refer to the books and everything gets sorted out.’
Some churches in Niger, such as that of Pastor Issa, now have ambitious plans:
‘When they’ve finished their training, we plan to send some of the newly literate believers to a theological college so they can help the pastors and then plant house churches. Others will be trained to lead community development projects.’
If you want to support literacy projects in places like Niger, hit the blue button below. Thank you for your support. It’s making a huge difference to people’s lives.
*All names have been changed in this story to protect identities.
Author: Simon Bartz, 30 September 2021 (Last updated: 27 October 2021)