‘The Bible Makes Me Feel Stronger’

Addressing Literacy Through Scripture.

Anna* is in love with Jesus and enjoys reading about Him in the Mission:Literacy program. She attends a Mission: Literacy™ program in Philadelphia. Photo by Kim Carter.

“People who are like these little children belong to the kingdom of God.” Mark 10.14b (CEV)

Anna* had a speech impediment and her classmates made fun of her. She enjoyed reading the Bible, but the thought of reading it aloud in front of others terrified her. Even when her teacher convinced her to try, and she did, the kids laughed. Anna cried. Aside from the debilitating social effects, children with speech disorders run a much higher risk of developing literacy related problems. 85 percent of juveniles that go through the juvenile court system are functionally illiterate, as well as 65 percent of prison inmates. In inner cities, kids can slip through the system without learning to read and then drop out of school. Some 70 percent of 4th graders in the U.S. have a subpar reading level. Teens struggling with reading are four times more likely to commit suicide. These young people are our future.

American Bible Society has been working alongside The Salvation Army to bring Mission: Literacy™ to some 30 after-school programs around the U.S. since 2005. Anna is in a Mission: Literacy™ program in Philadelphia with a tutor named Rena. Eventually she overcame the speech impediment, but she still suffered from low self-esteem. Studies show, as students improve their reading skills while discovering the joy of reading God's Word, they are usually healed of self-esteem issues, too. And, this happened to Anna. Knowing more about God's love for her also healed her of not feeling good about herself. Because the Bible made an impact in Anna's life, she won't be a sad statistic. “When I read the Bible it makes me feel stronger and not scared,” said Anna.

American Bible Society aims to get the Bible into the hands of children in the U.S., and advocates for it to be a daily practice. Mission: Literacy™ is a multicultural literacy project created by American Bible Society in conjunction with Bank Street College of Education, an authority on childhood education.

The program establishes a relationship between a caring tutor and the student and involves the student's family as much as possible. There are two levels of “readers,” with 30 colorful booklets in each. These introduce a child to Bible stories while helping them to master an important life skill.

Jonathan* is another child in the Philadelphia area Mission: Literacy™ program. His teacher and classmates found him difficult to have in class. He had anger issues due to his parents' multiple infidelities. At age 10 he was kicked out of school for a year. Through the Mission: Literacy™ class at the Salvation Army after school program, his teacher Fran helped him to read and relate to Bible heroes. This helped to change his perception about people. After Jonathan was allowed to re-enter school his attitude changed signigicantly after being in Mission: Literacy™ and now goes to church with his father.

*Name changed for privacy

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