Saturday, December 1, 2018

Literacy Graduation

In November, I (Adam) was invited to be the keynote speaker at the literacy graduation ceremony for one of the local church denominations. I was pleased to see forty students from three different congregations gathered together to receive a certificate acknowledging their progress in Enga literacy. I was also encouraged by the fact that most of the people who were graduating had little, if any, prior exposure to reading in any language. Before the literacy course, they were mostly illiterate. And so it was joyful to see people, many of whom were middle-aged or older, learning how to read for the first time in their lives.

Some of the literacy graduates and people in attendance at the ceremony
Often people in Papua New Guinea need encouragement to try to read in their own language. They just assume that they will not be able to do so, and so they either never learn how to read in their own language or they settle for reading Scripture in English or Tok Pisin, neither of which they understand as well as they understand their own language. To help people grasp the beauty of receiving Scripture in their own language, I shared from Psalm 119:103, which, in Enga translation, sounds like this:

The sweetness that happens when I heard your word, surpasses the sweetness that happens when I taste honey.

Applying this Scripture for the graduates I then said to them,

The sweetness that happens when you read God's Word in the Enga language surpasses the sweetness that happens when you read God's Word in other languages. Why? Other languages are not yours. The Enga language is yours.

I then told the graduates that when Israelite boys first started learning the Hebrew Scriptures, the rabbis would gave them a taste of honey to remind them that the Word of God is sweeter than honey. After that, I had the graduates come forward for a taste of honey to reinforce to them just how sweet the Word of God is when they read it and hear it in the Enga language. 

Tasting honey, which is not as sweet as God's Word in Enga
Please pray for these graduates as they have only just begun the long road toward becoming fully literate. We in America often take literacy for granted, and we forget how long it took us as children to learn how to read. It is harder for adults to learn how to read, especially when literacy is not a value of the surrounding culture and when there is little access to books or libraries! To promote an ongoing interest in reading, we gave each of the graduates a free copy of the Gospel of Matthew in Enga. Please pray that they will read it each and every day and improve in their newfound literacy skills.