​Bridge to Reading in Colombia

May 23 2018

In Colombia, Bridge to Reading works with Satura Colombia, a network of OMS churches focused on saturating the country with the Gospel. Bridge to Reading empowers churches to use literacy as a tool for ministering to unreached communities. B2R wants to give every person in Colombia and beyond the opportunity to hear, understand, and believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The work started in Antioquia and has since expanded into other states. The program designates those who do not know how to read as persons of peace. Our tutors then use a story from the literacy primer Nuevos Caminos to teach one or two students at a time.

Led initially by Jonathan Tobon Restrepo, and now by Ximena Cardona, Bridge to Reading in Colombia has conducted 18 tutor training workshops, trained 184 tutors, and has taught 81 people to read since 2014. Their students are varied in age with some being as young as 16 and as old as 67.

Guillermo, from Amaga, Colombia, has learned how to read with the help of a Bridge to Reading tutor. In this video, he shares his joy as he reads John 3: 1-3. Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. He came to Jesus at night and said, “Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him.” In reply, Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Pray for the work in Colombia, and especially for Ximena as she leads the program. She will be attending a five-week literacy training institute at Literacy & Evangelism International in Tulsa, Oklahoma this summer.

Your giving will go a long way toward providing resources for learners such as primers, books, and pencils, as well as for tutoring resources such as chalk and chalkboards for our learning centers.

Bridge to Reading literacy ministry is a powerful evangelism tool that God is using to help many learn to read the Bible.

A gift of $50 will provide a chalkboard and school supplies for a group of literacy learners.

A gift of $20 will provide literacy primers and will enable one person learn to read the Bible.

Click here to give.

Tags: literacy ministry, colombia, learn to read, bridge to reading, evangelism,

Learning to Read in a Small Fishing Village in Africa

May 16 2018

Lokoa is a small fishing village in the Zawara area in the Central African Republic. Through the years, the village population has increased to more than six hundred people due to the fruitful fishing activities. In seeking to meet the needs of the community, an OMS associated church decided to offer literacy classes through the OMS Bridge to Reading ministry to many who did not know how to read and write.

One who benefitted from the literacy program is Angela Tewa, a 12-year-old girl whose parents moved to Lokoa village to earn a living by fishing. Initially, the family did not go to church as they followed the traditional religion. Angela shared that they were born and raised in a culture that taught them certain practices that do not honor God. She noted that after OMS church planters came to her village and started a church, her parents forbade her to attend the church. However, after some time, the pastor started a free literacy program, which attracted many children. Angela said that without telling her parents, she started going to the classes and was taught to read, write, and memorize Scripture. They were also taught how to count and to pray. Angela testified:

“The pastor who was teaching us encouraged us to bring our younger siblings to this training, and each night to repeat the verses we had learned and to pray in our families. I started to teach my siblings the things I was learning, and my parents couldn’t object because the church is the only school in the village. In the evening, my siblings and I began to recite the verses and prayers at home in front of our parents. Sometime later, my father and mother began to go with us to church. They gave their lives to Jesus Christ, and the pastor baptized them. After their baptisms, they burned their animist fetishes and quit offering the monthly sacrifices. Our family life has gradually changed. Little by little, we are learning to read, write, and count. I thank God, first of all, and also our pastor.”

Your giving will go a long way toward providing resources for learners such as primers, books, and pencils; and also for tutoring resources such as chalk and chalkboards for our learning centers such as the one in Lokoa where Angela is learning to read.

Bridge to Reading literacy ministry is a powerful evangelism tool that God is using to help many to learn to read the Bible.

A gift of $50 will provide a chalkboard and school supplies for a group of literacy learners.

A gift of $20 will provide literacy primers and will enable one person learn to read the Bible.

To give: https://onemissionsociety.org/give/bridge-to-reading

Help break the shackles of illiteracy by running in the OMS Freedom Park 5K Run on Saturday, June 30 at 8 am in Greenwood, Indiana! Proceeds from the race will benefit the Bridge to Reading literacy ministry in Africa and Colombia.

OMS Freedom Park Run

Tags: bridge to reading, literacy ministry, africa, learn to read, write, math, fishing village,

​A Prayer of Appreciation From a Literacy Student

May 8 2018

Mwavita Nabindu, a literacy student in one of the Bridge to Reading centers near Uvira, Democratic Republic of Congo, has been attending a B2R literacy class for less than three months. Yet, she is advancing well in acquiring the ability to read and write. Mwavita hopes to eventually be able to read the Bible fluently. The prayer she offered during the International Literacy Day celebration in Uvira reflects the powerful impact of the Bridge to Reading ministry felt by our learners:

“Lord God, we thank you, we understand now that you are good to everyone and you care for everyone.

“We have lived in darkness all our lives up to this day. We have been humiliated, scorned, and insulted publicly. We have not been treated like those who are literate and had no right to respond because we were limited.

“But now, today, you have begun to put an end to all that. We have begun to read and write, we are becoming like others. Bless and equip all the teachers who are being trained now and who will continue to teach us to take us all out of this situation. In the name of Christ, Amen.”

Pray for literacy students like Mwavita and others, that they persist and achieve their goal of being fluent Bible readers.

Your giving will go a long way toward providing resources for learners such as primers, books, and pencils, as well as for tutoring resources such as chalk and chalkboards for our learning centers.

Bridge to Reading literacy ministry is also a powerful evangelism tool that God is using to help many learn to read the Bible.

A gift of $50 will provide a chalkboard and school supplies for a group of literacy learners.

A gift of $20 will provide literacy primers and will enable one person to learn to read the Bible.

Click here to give!

Tags: bridge to reading, literacy ministry,

Freedom to Read

May 1 2018

In Acts 17:11, we read of the Bereans, that they “… received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.” Today, a huge number of people in the church in developing countries faces a great challenge ― the freedom to search the Scriptures for themselves. The Bible is a closed book to them.

According to UNESCO (United Nations Education Science and Cultural Organization), 857 million adults cannot read or write in any language, and 125 million youth are unable to attend school.

Bridge to Reading, One Mission Society’s literacy ministry, trains volunteers in local churches to teach people in the church and their community to read. We develop literacy materials and help mobilize tutors so that youth and adults can have the freedom to read, not just the Bible, but also materials about health and agriculture. Bridge to Reading currently has programs in Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Central African Republic, and in Colombia.

The ability to read God’s Word provides access to scriptural truths, which lead to transformation. Catherine (far left) is a Bridge to Reading student in the Central African Republic. She shares about how learning to read has changed her life:

Before coming to this training center, I felt sad that I could not read and write. Since my mother was not able to pay for me to go to school, I had a feeling of resentment towards her. I felt hurt when I saw a sister in church reading or writing, but I couldn’t. Since I started to learn to read and write, little by little, I feel so happy. So, I appeal to anyone who is still hesitating, or who feels ashamed, to register soon in this literacy center. I pray that God will give you wisdom about it.

The Bridge to Reading literacy ministry helps people in churches learn to read the Bible. It also equips churches to reach out to their communities where people are hungry for the freedom to read.

Your generous gift to Bridge to Reading provides resources for learners and tutors, such as primers and pencils, training manuals, and chalk and chalkboards.

$50 provides a chalkboard and school supplies for a group of literacy learners.

$20 provides literacy primers so one person can learn to read the Bible.

It’s easy to mobilize your gift to spread the Gospel: https://onemissionsociety.org/give/bridge-to-reading

Help break the shackles of illiteracy by running in the OMS Freedom Park 5K Run on Saturday, June 30 at 8 am!

OMS Freedom Park Run

Tags: bridge to reading, literacy ministry, africa, south america, oms, b2r, learn to read,

​Shining Light into Bellavista Prison

June 21 2016

In what was once Colombia’s most violent city, God is at work in the hearts of the prisoners and staff at Bellavista men’s prison. Ministries like Bridge to Reading (B2R), One Mission Society’s literacy ministry, step into the famous penitentiary in Medellin, Colombia, to bring not just education but the Good News of salvation.

Here are a few powerful stories overflowing from Bellavista:

Bridge to Reading was invited in 2013 by the government of Colombia to help expand efforts to teach prisoners how to read. B2R founder Connie Schwein, Nathan Davis, and I trained a group of prison administration staff, as well as several volunteers from Prison Fellowship Colombia (PFC) in Medellin to serve as literacy tutors.

Our team had been inside the huge, overcrowded Bellavista prison for a couple of afternoons in 2013 to give our tutors the opportunity to practice their new skills with actual students who had little or no ability to read. We had seen the excitement on their faces as they reported how these practice sessions went.

A year later, in July 2014, Nathan and I returned to offer a tutor training workshop inside Bellavista men’s prison, and then, they held a training of trainers.

When we planned to return to the prison in 2014, we were already aware that it would be a challenging environment in which to teach the entire workshop. There are reminders every day that the prison is not there to accommodate us. We must adjust to whatever changes and restrictions are placed on us: when we can enter, when we must leave, where we will meet, when our students can come to class, when there will be an unannounced roll-call, and so forth. The acoustics in the classrooms are atrocious, and classes can come to a complete halt thanks to a band playing during a graduation party on the patio next door.

The solution in every case is to adapt quickly and never take your eyes off the goal: to be an expression of the love of Jesus. We remember that many missionaries and national believers lost their lives trying to pry the door open so that we could walk through it.

We recall the story of how Bellavista has been changed from the inside out by the power of the Gospel carried inside by people like OMSer Jeannine Brabon, the Colombia-born daughter of OMS missionaries, and Lácides Hernández, president of Prison Fellowship of Colombia.

As a young woman, Jeannine was one of the first to minister in the extremely violent prison. At that time, Bellavista was experiencing several murders every week. As the Gospel took hold, despite fierce opposition, the murder rate dropped. The gates of hell were not able to withstand the assault by the church of Jesus Christ. Lácides has expanded the outreach pioneered at Bellavista to prisons across Colombia.

Reflecting on the past efforts of missionaries and the impact they had through God’s power, we remind ourselves that the chance to shine the light in this dark place is worth whatever inconvenience we may encounter.

By Wendy McDermott, Bridge to Reading editor and coordinator for Latin America

Please join us in praying for Colombia:

  • That volunteers from Prison Fellowship, local churches, and other ministries will continue to have an open door at every prison, and that God will reveal himself through undeniable evidence of his power and love through them.
  • That the prisoners and prison staff would have opportunities to encounter God through the volunteers and the believers inside the prison.
  • That the believers in the prison will grow in their relationship with God, experience inner freedom in the Lord, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses through everything that they say and do.
  • That our trainers would have opportunities to teach the Colombian church how to use Bridge to Reading as a tool of evangelism in their communities.

Bellavista’s story of transformation continues in next week’s final blog post.

Visit the Bridge to Reading website to learn more at http://bridge2reading.org/. To give to the ministry, click here.

Tags: bridege to reading, literacy ministry, tutoring, colombia prisons,

Literacy Brings Life

June 7 2016

Have you ever considered being able to read and write as a gift instead of just a skill?

Through the gift of literacy, we have an opportunity to read personal testimonies from people around the world who were touched by God through the Gospel and the Bridge to Reading literacy program.

B2R’s ministry uses trained tutors to teach literacy skills to adults and teens. They also give students the opportunity to read the Bible, hear the Gospel, and understand it. God works through B2R to transform people, and they, in turn, show God’s love to their community.

John Ndagano is one of those people. He was an evangelist in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) but couldn’t read his Bible. There was a military camp next to John’s village that didn’t have a chaplain. When John went to the camp to minister, he was chased away, suspected of being a spy after he failed to read Scripture.

“The first time I came to the camp, the commander asked me to read Matthew 10:17, but I could not,” John said. “I used to walk around with my Bible, but I didn’t know how to read.”

When John heard about the B2R literacy program in another neighborhood, he attended and eventually could read and write Swahili. After three years of literacy training, John returned to that same military camp, where the same commander he had met years before was still stationed.

“I told him that I have now come to pay the full price, to be beaten, before I preach to him. He told me that he wanted first to hear the Good News and after that he will beat me,” John said.

John preached to the officer. Four months later, the commander got baptized. Now, every Monday John is invited to the military camp to preach to the troops.

Yvonne Nsimire Rutikanga, also from the DRC, is another person who has gained literary skills and spiritual maturity from God by working through B2R.

B2R’s literacy program started in Yvonne’s church, and she decided she wanted to be a tutor. Yvonne returned to school so she could help contribute more to the growth of her church and attain her goal. After her successful literacy training, Yvonne began tutoring others in her church.

One year ago, Yvonne said that she received the gift of a goat from the husband of a woman she tutored. The husband was happy to see that his wife could read and write because of Yvonne’s efforts to teach her.

“Literacy brought courage, happiness, and fortune in my life,” Yvonne said.

The personal testimonies will continue next week in B2R’s next spotlight post. Check back next week to read more stories of people’s lives being changed by the power of God.

Please pray that Bridge to Reading can continue to glorify God through its literacy ministry and for the Lord to show those involved how he wants to sustain this ministry in each country and each church.

Please also join us in praying with the B2R team for Colombia:

That volunteers from Prison Fellowship, local churches, and other ministries will continue to have an open door at every prison, and that God will reveal himself through undeniable evidence of his power and love through them.

That the prisoners and prison staff would have opportunities to encounter God through the volunteers and the believers inside the prison.

That the believers in the prison will grow in their relationship with God, experience inner freedom in the Lord, and be empowered by the Holy Spirit to be witnesses through everything that they say and do.

That our trainers would have opportunities to teach the Colombian church how to use Bridge to Reading as a tool of evangelism in their communities.

Visit the Bridge to Reading website to learn more at http://bridge2reading.org/. To give to the ministry, click here.

By Jess Mitchell, OMS Summer Communications Intern

Tags: bridge to reading, literacy ministry, africa, colombia, tutoring, reading, learning to read,

​Literacy Opens Doors to the Gospel in the DRC

October 22 2014

Here are two simple testimonies of women in the Democratic Republic of the Congo that have benefited greatly by the One Mission Society Bridge to Reading (B2R) literacy project.

Neema (left) said: “When I didn’t know how to read and to write, my husband considered me an animal. He wouldn’t give me money to buy anything in the market, and he said that a wife who doesn’t know how to read and write is like a dog. He said he must look for another woman because I’m not beautiful.

“When the literacy ministry came to our church, I was the first to register. My husband led me to the tutoring center to be a student, and he said to the pastor, ‘This woman must learn to read and write. If not, I’ll chase her out and look for another.’

“After two and a half years, I’m now able to read and write because (the goal of) literacy is powerful to make us do something. Today, I’m the president of the women’s ministry in our church. I know how to read the Bible and preach to other Christians―even my husband. He’s now received Jesus as his Lord and Savior. Now, he says that I’m a wise woman because I am literate. God bless literacy missions.”

Furahisha (right) was married to a man who enjoyed studying, but she was not able to read or write. When the literacy project was implanted in her area, she said that she’d have to ask advice from the pastor about it.

The pastor asked her husband to agree that his wife could learn at the literacy center. Three years and nine months later, Furahisha was able to read the Bible and write correctly. She says, “When we left Lusheke for Kalangwe, the pastor of the church chose me to teach others in the literacy center. Now, I’m a tutor in the Kalangwe center. Glory to the Lord who sent us the literacy ministry.”

--Testimonies courtesy of OMS volunteer and B2R founder, Connie Schwein

5k Walk/Run for Literacy

If you'd like to support the Bridge to Literacy ministry, you can donate here to project #407800.

Also, on Saturday, Nov. 1, OMS will host a 5k walk/run for literacy to raise money and awareness for our literacy ministry. You can register for the event here, which is being held at the OMS World HQ in Greenwood, Indiana. The event starts at 9:30 a.m.

To view a short video about the walk/run and literacy, click here.

Tags: literacy, africa, drc, literacy ministry,