Being able to read and write is a privilege many of us don’t understand. Literacy creates opportunities, spreads information, and brings people together. This is true, yet an estimated 781 million adults around the world don’t have the resources or ability to read, and we need to talk about that.
Having access to literature and literacy training should be a basic right for all people. As we work toward equality, we should remember that every person on earth deserves the chance to read and write because of the hope that comes with literacy.
This isn’t a new notion or a new struggle.
These ideas—of opportunity, information, and fellowship—were at the heart of the Protestant Reformation 500 years ago. Martin Luther and other reformers believed that everyone deserved the chance to hear and understand the gospel.
Salvation is not only for those with the highest education or for those who live in the most privileged communities. Salvation is an offer for everyone, and fighting for literacy means continuing the fight of the Reformation—the fight to make the gospel accessible because we know that “God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:11 ESV).
It is possible to hear, understand, and surrender to the gospel without being able to read, but having the ability to study the world of your own volition is so important. Faith rests on the ability to hear what God is saying and meditate on his truth. Paul reminds us of this and says, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Romans 10:17 ESV).
On International Literacy Day, it is important for us to remember the value of literacy, both to personal and to spiritual development. Literacy brings people to knowledge of the gospel, but it also provides opportunities for people to fight against poverty. Communication is at the core of many jobs, and knowing how to read and write properly is important. Furthermore, literacy opens up a world of art that enhances life on earth.
Living for Jesus means working to eradicate poverty. Living for Jesus means spreading the gospel. Living for Jesus means advocating for equality in all ways, including the right to literacy. We do these things because of God’s grace working in us, because we love like he loves.
“But if anyone has the world's goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God's love abide in him?” (1 John 3:17 ESV)
You can be an advocate in your own way—by donating to a literacy organization, offering your time to after school programs that teach reading and writing, or even starting your own project.
Here at Jesus’ Economy, we are funding church planting in Bihar, India. Each church plant we fund supports a local Bihar pastor in building and nurturing several home churches around his community. These pastors are hosting Bible studies, giving literacy training, and spreading the gospel throughout their villages. Thousands of people in Bihar are hearing the gospel and are learning to read it for the first time.
There are so many ways to get involved, but no matter what you do, remember that literacy is so much bigger than reading and writing. It’s an issue of equality, it’s an issue of access to the gospel, and it’s an issue that matters to God.
“Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow’s cause” (Isaiah 1:17 ESV).
Literacy can change the world and give people hope, and that’s what we’re about here.