Conquering Illiteracy with God’s Word

Literacy ministry in Togo helps people read in their heart language.

Like many people in Togo, Gbati can’t read the language he speaks at home. Schools teach just two of the 40 languages spoken in his country. His mother tongue, N’tcham, isn’t one of them.

This leaves Gbati and 190,000 other N’tcham speakers illiterate in their preferred language. Gbati can tell his wife he loves her, but if he wants to write her a love letter, he must use the more formal language he learned in school.

As a result, Gbati rarely reads or writes. He is a 56-year-old carpenter who can get by without it. But as a Christian, he wants more. He longs to learn more about his heavenly Father. And to do that — to really let the Scriptures sink deep into his heart — he needs a Bible in the language of his prayers.

Gbati isn’t alone in his frustration. For years, local government officials and church leaders have deeply desired that people learn to read and write in their mother tongue. But it wasn’t until recently that American Bible Society’s financial partners made that dream a reality. Their gifts allowed translators to develop the tools that make it all possible, and now the full Bible is available in the N’tcham language!

The Bible Society has established literacy ministries that use the translated Scriptures as a textbook of sorts. While the participants are learning to read the words, they are also absorbing God’s story.

Gbati was quick to enroll in the classes, but soon found it wouldn’t be easy.

“The beginning was very difficult for me,” Gbati says. He was the only man in the class, which made him uncomfortable. “I had to make a burst of pride to get where I am now.”

But Gbati stuck with his studies. He is now at the point where he can follow the words in his Bible as the teacher plays the text on an audio Scripture player.

“I listen and I read. I imitate the reader and I read in the Bible,” Gbati says with pride. “I'm starting to succeed.”

Gbati is now able to dig into the meaning of what he is reading. “The Lord is wonderful, and I discover Him better and better through the reading of my Bible,” he says. Life transformations like Gbati’s are made possible thanks to the support of American Bible Society’s financial partners. “I thank the Lord for the life of the supporters of this program,” says Gbati. We are so grateful for their faithfulness in changing lives like Gbati’s in Togo and around the world through God’s Word.

Thanks to the support of our faithful financial partners, American Bible Society has been engaging people with the life-changing message of God’s Word for more than 200 years.

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