JIANGSU, China – “I used to be fearful whenever I had to go out. I couldn’t read the bus sign, so I didn’t know where to get off,” Zhang Suli of Changzhou city, Jiangsu province, recalled sadly. “After I got off the bus, it was complicated to find the place where I wanted to go. I had to ask people which was inconvenient. What’s worse, I can’t even tell the difference between the men’s and women’s restrooms!”
Zhang, 49 years old, was born into a rural family. When she was one year old, her father became mentally ill, and the burden of the family was placed entirely on her mother alone. Unfortunately, a few years later, her mother’s legs were crushed by a car in an accident, and the family lost their source of income. Zhang and her sisters had to go to work on the farm to support themselves and the family. Going to school was a whimsical dream for her.
"Each Sunday, when she went to church for service, she could only listen to the pastor’s sermon but couldn’t find the specific passage in the Bible."
Even after becoming a Christian and finding solace in her faith, Zhang continued to grapple with being illiterate. Each Sunday, when she went to church for service, she could only listen to the pastor’s sermon but couldn’t find the specific passage in the Bible. Initially, she had been determined to read the Bible on her own and had even bought a copy. While the desire was laudable, the reality was hard. She could not read the Bible, so she gradually lost her enthusiasm and stopped turning the pages of the Bible. She owned a Bible, but it was unopened and unread.
In God’s providential timing and with the support of the United Bible Societies (UBS), the church that Zhang attended started a Scripture Literacy class. For people like her who struggled with lack of formal education, it felt like a miracle from above when she received the good news. She was overwhelmed with joy to learn that the church had made her dream of being able to read and write a reality. Gratitude overflowed from her heart as she realised the significance of this opportunity.
“Now when I read the Bible, I can understand the meaning of some words, and I understand the Bible a little better than before, and the more I read it, the more I want to read it.”
Thanks to the Scripture Literacy class, she now has the ability to read the Bible on her own. Although there are still many words she does not understand, she perseveres in her reading. The once daunting task of understanding the Word of God has become a joyful experience as she continues to develop her newfound literacy skills.
Compared to the past when she could only read word by word, she can now read sentence by sentence. “Now when I read the Bible, I can understand the meaning of some words, and I understand the Bible a little better than before, and the more I read it, the more I want to read it,” Zhang shared excitedly.
The Scripture Literacy class has helped Zhang rebuild her confidence and increase her faith. She can now take the bus and go to the hospital by herself without having to ask people frequently. Her life has been changed and she no longer lives with low self-esteem. Learning how to read and write has not only built Zhang’s confidence and increased her frequency in reading the Bible, it has also given Zhang the confidence to share God’s Word. These days, she regularly shares Bible verses on “Moments” in WeChat (a social media platform in China equivalent to Facebook), something she could not do before.
Let's pray for the success of the Scripture Literacy classes, like the one that has helped Zhang learn how to read the Bible. May these classes continue to empower and uplift those lacking opportunities for formal education, enabling them to access the transforming power of God's Word.
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