Thursday, August 3, 2017

Literacy MIssions: Making the Word Known

Recently I've been reading and writing about Literacy Missions in the United States. It is a subject dear to my heart. I love writing about it, teaching students of all ages, and training volunteers to participate in the ministry. I volunteered in Literacy Missions from April 1977 to October 2016 through my church, local literacy councils, the North American Mission Board (NAMB), State Conventions, and in public school. I finally realized it is a ministry that belongs in the church because it involves ministering to the whole person.

Literacy Missions consists of three branches: Adult Reading and Writing (ARW) reaches out to adults who need help with reading and writing skills they have missed out on in life. Tutoring Children and Youth (TCY) strives to help those who are having difficulty in school. Volunteers spend and two or more hours each week, teaching reading, writing, and math in church-based ministries. English as a Second Language (ESL) is an outreach to Internationals (all ages) in our midst who need to learn to speak English in order to get jobs, care for their families, and adapt to our culture. All these ministries have a common purpose---to help these people learn to read the Bible and come to know Jesus.

You could say Literacy Missions is my passion, and for that reason, I have chosen to spend some time on my blog writing about the hundreds of volunteers who share my passion and the students who bless our lives. Every week I'll share two stories about a Literacy Missions student to help you understand what the teacher-student relationship means to each person, and how God has blessed those who accept the call He placed on their lives to be involved in Literacy Missions.

Today Barbara Martin shares a story about one of her ESL students at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.

                                               ESL Student and Teacher Skype from China

          We praise God for the 25 Internationals who professed faith in Christ this past year through the North Carolina Literacy Missions ministries.

          One of those students was Li, a visiting scholar from China studying at one of our major North Carolina universities. Last September, Li joined an ESL class to improve her English while she was studying in the States. The ESL class used the Bible to teach English. Soon Li was asking questions about the gospel and wanting to learn more than we could cover in class.  She started meeting weekly with her ESL teacher for more Bible study. Li did not know it, but although she was not yet a believer at the time, she was an early disciple (learner) of Christ. 

          After months of study and much time with her teacher, Li indicated that she would like to become a follower of Christ. In May of this year, she accepted Christ as her Savior and was baptized in July. She has returned to China now and is sharing her faith with others. She is a light to her own people. Li continues to grow in her faith as she continues regular Bible study by Skype with her ESL teacher. 
Barbara Martin is Li's teacher. She is a retired missionary,who served with her husband in Brazil for eighteen years. She currently serves as the Literacy Consultant for the NC Baptist State Convention. Her missionary spirit never tires as she works with international students who attend the ESL ministry at Forest Hills Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC.

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If you would like to volunteer to work in an ESL program, contact me, and I will put you in touch with someone in your state who will connect your with a Literacy Missions ministry near you.

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