See Spot Run

girl reading

Think about everything you read in a day. Better yet, make a list of every piece of text that you read in one twenty-four hour period. From books, the internet, texting, and even road side traffic signs, reading is foundational to our existence. Now, imagine what your life would be like if you couldn’t read. How would your life be different?

In a effort to get to know the women who attend the services at Target Dayton, I offered to lead a women’s Bible study once a week after breakfast. I knew that using the same methods I used to lead Bible studies in the past was not going to work with this group. Providing each person with a study guide sounded like a good idea, but the probability of them showing up each week with the book in tow was slim to none. This is a group of people who have very few possessions and have no place to put the few things that they do have. Everything they own is carried around in a backpack. So each week I created a Bible study lesson that was short and simple, but allowed plenty of opportunity for discussion.

We provided Bibles for the women to read during our time together. At the very first lesson, I asked for volunteers to read the Scripture verses out loud. I was shocked. All of these women really, really struggled to read. And what was even more amazing was that the poorest reader was the one who wanted to read the most. My heart ached as she struggled to pronounce each word that had more than two syllables. My passion has always been to provide opportunities for women to be encouraged and empowered through reading and knowing Scripture.  But what if they couldn’t read it?  What then?

It’s God’s plan that people should be able to read well. He saw to it that His message was written, so people could read it and know for sure what He said. People in the Bible were often instructed to read the Scriptures publicly. This was a sound method of teaching. Moses took the book of the Covenant and read it to the people. He read aloud the Ten Commandments. Nehemiah read from the book and explained the meaning so that people could understand what was being said. Christ read the ancient scrolls of Isaiah in the temple and expected people to read and understand the Scriptures.

Reading is of special importance to those who believe and trust God. Reading the Bible is important to growth in knowledge and understanding of life and our responsibilities in it; the results of such reading can be obtained no other way.

The effects of adult illiteracy in today’s world reach far beyond the inability to grow and thrive spiritually. Low literacy adults are more likely to live in poverty, have poor health, and to remain dependent upon social services. There is a high correlation between low literacy and criminal behavior. Literally is critical for individual empowerment and without it, both individuals and society suffers.

I tried to do what I could to help these women read better. I started a library that contained books with adult themes that were easy to read, hoping this would encourage them to read more. But only a few of them were interested in becoming better readers. Most of them were intimated and ashamed they couldn’t read any better than what they did. And I have no doubt years of drug abuse had taken its toll on their ability to develop their literacy skills.

Nonetheless, I continued to lead our Bible study and loved them all the more for their desire to want to read the Word, even if they lacked the skill to do it. Regardless of their ability to read, they still learned that God loves them and cares for them. At this point in their lives, there was nothing more important for them to know.

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