Sunday, November 20, 2011

Give Back Friday

We have been working very hard to get a program started for biblical literacy in Dagara churches for about 9 months now.  We have been able to start 5 literacy classes of about 30 students each in 4 villages.  The plan however is to expand the program in the next few months to about 20 villages meaning around 600 people learning to read for the first time this year.
Most of the students in these classes live on nothing but whatever their fields produce and they have no cash of which to speak.  That's why we decided that in our program the students could "pay" for the materials for their class through their work in the class.  That means that in effect we're paying for all of the materials up front and they are earning the right to use those materials by trying hard in the literacy course. We have raised about $1300 to cover these costs up to this point.
However, what we had estimated was going to cost approximately $1.65 per student is going to cost about $8.25 per student.  This means that we need to raise an additional $3700 to pay for the program.
Let that soak in for a minute.  For less than what it takes to take your family to McDonald's, or buy them a CD (people do still buy these right?) or book for Christmas, we can provide someone with the materials they need to learn how to read.  For less than the price of that iphone your wife really wants for Christmas, you could pay for an entire village to open up a literacy center.
I'm writing this post to hopefully inspire some people this week to give back.  After thanksgiving, after you've overcome your tryptophan hangover, rather than giving in to the urge to get some unbelievable deal on Black Friday, it's time to celebrate what I'm calling "Give Back Friday."  I know it's corny, but my guess is that you have been blessed with a richer life because of the fact that you can read.  Here's your chance to give back to those less fortunate.  You can pay for someone to learn to read for ($8.25), or even pay for a village to open up a literacy center in their church ($246.67).
To those of you who may be unfamiliar with our program, our classes do teach people how to read, but they are so much more than that.  One of the primary functions of these classes are to give those with very limited literacy the confidence to use their skills for not only reading, but also understanding and obeying God's word as individuals and churches.  
I was talking with one of the most literate church leaders I know, Severen, the other day.  We were talking about how hard it is to find a church (or a church leader) willing to really expect Jesus to be their chief (or if you prefer the NIV word 'head'). 
I described to him the bible study method we try to teach in our literacy courses.  We ask those who know how to read a little, but aren't yet comfortable enough to preach or teach a class, to read a passage of scripture as the reading practice part of the literacy class.  There are hopefully about 3 to 5 of these people that can read a little.  Then the whole class begins to discuss what happened in the passage, what it tells us about God, and what it means for us today.  We start asking ourselves, "If this is really God's word, what do I hear Him telling me to do and how and when am I going to do it?"  We pray for God to give us strength to do what he has revealed to us in his word.  
Then I looked at Severen and asked him, "When this happens guess what has happened?"  The answer was obvious, Christ has become the chief of that church meeting.  No one single persuasive voice has led the discussion, but instead we let the word of God itself speak for itself and lead us.  You should have seen Severen's face light up with excitement.
We now have the opportunity to spread this excitement to many communities, but only if we can raise the necessary funds.  At our current state of funding we're left with two choices.  We could majorly lower our expectations, and tell the remaining literacy teachers that I have trained that we will not be able to open up the literacy centers in their churches.  Or we could work together to raise the $3,700 of additional funds needed to do this program.
Thank God this week for your health, your family, and many other things, but among them thank Him that you can read, and if this plea has touched your heart, then give, but don't stop there - tweet it, facebook it, email it to your friends, tell your church group, your prayer group, your co-workers, and let's make an authentic Christmas miracle for God's people here. You can free someone from the chains of other peoples' opinions and rumors to read God's very word and judge for themselves.  You have the ability to empower mothers and grandmothers to share God’s amazing stories with their children in order to ensure the continuing growth in God’s kingdom here for generations to come.
As a bonus, I’ve designed these really cool bible bookmarks that you can print out and put in someone’s stocking or present to tell them how you gave someone the gift of literacy in their name.  Just make your donation on the widget above (as of the publication of this blog post the widget wasn't working so you need to go to - thanks, and sorry for any inconvenience) and I will send you the digital bookmark file for you to print and make someone merry this Christmas as you both spread joy to the world.