Parking on Orange I walked down the alley and crossed King St. Opening the Literacy Council door I stepped inside and looked around. “Can I help you?” a woman in the other room asked as she peered around the corner.
“Yes,” I replied, handing her a business card. “I’d like to know how the people of our church can help others learn how to read.” Her mouth dropped open, “Oh that’s so wonderful!”
“Several months ago we buried a longtime church member who didn’t know how to read until he was well into adulthood. He was very bright and had been able to fool his boss for a long time.”
“That’s very common,” she explained. “People who can’t read often have very good memories and get by with them.”
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for our church for 15 years; helping people learn to read. Kinda slow at getting around to it,” I admitted. “Do I understand that you train the volunteers?”
“That’s right. And we provide the materials. Sometime it’s one-on-one, sometimes as a small group. Sometimes it’s for a relatively brief time. We have a lot of people who are functionally illiterate. That is, they can read some words, but not a prescription on a medicine bottle. Or something on a job application. We have people who want to learn to read well enough for citizenship. Or to get their driver’s licenses. Or for a job. We have people who want to learn how to read just so they can read the Bible.”
I thought of how Wycliffe Bible translators have seen entire cultures transformed. Yes, because of the Scriptures, but first they reduce unwritten languages to writing, and then teach how people how to read their own languages. Who can walk according to the Scriptures if they don’t know what the Scriptures say? What possibilities!
I wondered, “Would there be people in our community that we could work with, or would it all be done in Lancaster?”
“Oh no, we have people from all over. There are people many different places waiting for someone to help them. But there might be some whom people would have to come here to the city to help.”
“Hmm. Actually, we’re a rural church but a growing number of our people have bought houses in the city–including our youth pastor. Maybe some of them would be interested in helping those in the city.” I was getting more and more enthused. So was she.
“Pastor Rohrer…, is that right? The woman who handles this just left for vacation a few minutes ago and will be gone all next week. Is it ok to wait and have her call you when she gets back?”
“That would be fine. I’ll wait to hear from her.”
“Oh pastor, you have no idea what a blessing this is; it’s like an answer to prayer!”
I read a book about every five days. Plus the daily newspaper, a couple of magazines, and articles on the internet. How radically different my life would be if reading terrorized me instead of filled me with joy: the Bible would have nothing to say to me, I’d know nothing of other cultures, and I’d know only the opinions of those I surrounded myself with.
So, …let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:16. I’ll let you know more when I do. But I think Gratz would approve.