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Teach Reading and Writing with Purpose!

Teach Reading and Writing with Purpose!

About four years ago, the CLC team in Colombia was praying for a way to help people in isolated and difficult-to-access areas of the country who do not know how to read or write. We were also concerned for those who do not have visits from Christian speakers or the opportunity to attend seminars and workshops to help them in their spiritual growth and to mature in Christ. Above all, however, there was the desire for people to be able to read and understand God’s Word. 

The obvious area to concentrate on was Chocó, one of the poorest, most neglected and least inhabited regions of Colombia. The population is around 500,000 and is predominantly made up of Afro-Colombians, descendants of former slaves. In addition, there are many ethnic groups and a variety of languages; not everyone speaks Spanish.

About 80% of the population do not have their basic needs met – needs such as clean water, electricity, employment, education and health care – and the infant mortality rate is high. 

Other difficulties include the geographical and climatic conditions, such as dense, humid forests and high rainfall. Due to the terrain, access is mostly by plane or boat. The isolation, the general lack of infrastructure and lack of economic development have allowed criminal groups to impose their authority. Added to these factors that make life so difficult is the fact that coca leaf crops are grown in the region for the production of cocaine. This industry is well protected from the authorities seeking to dismantle this illicit activity.

For all these reasons, God put it in our hearts to help the people of Chocó and bring them the Word of God so they can know, love and honour Him. Initially, we opened a small bookshop with the support of all the other CLC bookshops in Colombia. Then, we started an evangelistic work with children from the area surrounding the bookshop in the small and rudimentary city of Quibdó, the region’s capital. Because so many of the inhabitants are unable to read or write in Spanish, we have also developed a project to teach these skills to adults and young people over the age of 15. 

CLC sought the support of the ministry Literacy and Evangelism International in this project, requesting training and permission to print their materials to teach people to read and write, as well as manuals to train the teachers. During 2018, we worked on training and publishing the booklets. At the end of October, we started the project, not only in Chocó but in other municipalities of Colombia where there is a great need for it. 

At the time of writing this article we have 148 trained evangelical Christian volunteers, who have each committed themselves to teach 1 to 3 people to read and write over the course of a year. 

The literacy programme lasts for 52 weeks, with a one-hour class per week and some simple follow-up work to be done by the students using a booklet provided by CLC Publishing. During the weekly lesson, before the class begins, ten minutes are dedicated to reading a Bible passage with some explanation and an opportunity to reflect on the reading. At the end of the class the literacy teacher prays for the students, encourages them to work on the exercises in the booklet and invites them to the next class. At the end of the whole course, each student is given a Bible as a prize for completing the work.

We give the glory to the Lord because we are sure that, more than anything, the world needs to know God by reading His Word. Our aim is to see more people reading the Scriptures to come to a knowledge of God and a faith in Jesus Christ. This can be done through various means, including through social work, to fulfill the purpose for which CLC exists.

Blanca Lilia Garzón - Editorial Director, CLC Colombia Publishing

CLC World Magazine