Starving for Literacy

Story by Rachel Greco

If someone holds a New Testament written in his own language, but doesn’t know how to read the words, it’s like a starving person holding a fishing net without the knowledge of how to use it.

Although Ezekiel of the Menya people was not a prophet like his namesake, God used him to open his people’s eyes to the value of literacy.

Ezekiel was chosen by a committee to attend a STEP (Strengthening Tokples Education in Papua New Guinea) course. This course taught adults how to teach and establish preschools in their villages so that the kids could learn their own language before learning English in the government-run schools.

During the STEP program, Ezekiel realized that the Whiteheads, who were helping translate the Bible into the Menya language, wouldn’t be with them forever. He said, “If anything’s going to happen in our language, we have to do it.”

After the five-module course held over 18 months, Ezekiel returned to his village and spoke with his relatives. Inspired, one of his relatives donated a plot of ground for coffee; the proceeds were allocated for literacy so their people could learn to read and write, including the Bible someday.

The people in Ezekiel’s village donated the first fruits of their first coffee harvest to local churches who’d helped plant and harvest the coffee. Five TokPles preschools were eventually established in the area with help from the money of the coffee garden. The Elementary school teachers noticed that the children who attended the Tokples preschools first before entering English-taught schools did much better in school than those who had not.

Ezekiel trained other adults as teachers of the Tokples preschools. Some of these teachers, now literate in their mother tongue, later helped check the flow and fluency of the Menya New Testament translation.”

Because God used one man to impart a desire to read and write to his people, the Menya now have readers who can record the New Testament so those who cannot or will not read God’s Word can hear it and no longer starve.






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