India (MNN) — It’s the last month of summer, which means the first days of school are closing in and the sight of kids and teens mourning the end of summer is commonplace. But what if education wasn’t such an integral part of society? What if reading and writing were rare skills?
Lindsay Ackerman with Mission India says that’s exactly the issue facing India’s ever-growing illiterate population.
“In India, literacy continues to be out of the reach of millions, especially women.”
It’s a struggle in many aspects of daily life. In fact, “There are just millions of people who can’t read or write their own name, who can’t help their children with homework. It’s a challenge even to go to the market and to be able to have confidence that you’re getting the right change from a vendor, that you’re not being cheated,” she explains.
That’s why Mission India started literacy classes on the ground in India. “They not only are just learning basic numbers and letters and phrases, but they also are slowly introduced to the gospel message.”
In fact, the entire curriculum uses Bible stories to bring students into the world of reading. From the story of Creation to “the amazing message of hope that we know from the book of Revelation and Christ’s coming return,” stories and lessons from throughout Scripture inspire students like Roshni.
Roshni was married at the age of fifteen, “so literacy was never something that she thought she’d be able to achieve.” It posed a huge problem, as vendors could take advantage of her lack of education by giving her higher prices or the wrong amount of change. “When she would go and work in the fields, at the end of the day she wasn’t even sure if her employer was giving her the proper wages because she couldn’t count the money.”
Then, one of Mission India’s literacy classes came to Roshni’s community. “Every day she would continue to work in the field, and then as soon as work was over, she would rush to her class and join the other women and men in the evening.”
The result? Life-changing. After a year of classes, “she went from not even being able to write her own name to, in the end, having the equivalent of a 5th-grade education. She also decided to take some of her skills and start a small home-based business, making and selling candles. So she’s been able to increase her family’s income.”
Not only was she helped in an earthly way, her eternal life had a turn-around as well. “Through the class she also received Jesus as her Savior, and so did her two children.” Now, they’re praying for her husband to follow Christ as well.
This year, Mission India is expecting stories like Roshni’s to come from each and every class. They’re getting ready to launch the classes, and “have just wrapped up our training for our literacy teachers just in recent weeks.”
That doesn’t mean the teachers are done preparing, though. “They’re going to be going out into their communities. Sometimes, they’re knocking on doors and just meeting people in the neighborhood and letting them know about this free class that’s gonna be launching, inviting people to come and join them for a year of training and study.”
Mission India is tackling a huge project, but Ackerman believes that God is behind them and will help them along every step of the way.
“You know, we would love to see a day where illiteracy in India is eradicated. That is a big goal, and that is gonna take a lot of effort and time. But that would be our hope: that there would be a time where everybody in India is able to read and write. Not only that, though: we really see illiteracy as being the key to growing God’s kingdom in India through giving people the ability to read God’s Word directly. It’s difficult when you can’t pick up a book and read it, and so literacy gives people direct access to God’s Word, which really helps build a Bible-literate church in India which is really important to the long-term growth of God’s kingdom in India.”
Pray for the teachers going out to recruit students. Pray that the students themselves will experience something that will change both their earthly and eternal lives. Want to get involved? You can go to Mission India’s Web site to support their work.