By Laura Newkirk
Twelve ladies from the village of Ngohé just graduated from Formation Lois. These women are courageous, formidable, determined, and amazing! Some ladies came by horse cart and others walked far distances in the hot sand. None of them could read, but most of them worked very hard to memorize verses each week. They had their children or husbands help them.
A’s husband got so frustrated that he told her she was too hard to teach. She stayed up at night and worked until she got it and memorized every verse assigned! At the graduation, she and four others were able to recite all 20 verses.
Here are some things that they said at graduation:
- -“I used to fall asleep when my husband read the Bible to me, now I really want to learn to read so I can read it myself.”
- -“Sometimes I lay awake at night thinking of Bible verses we learned.”
- -“I can hardly wait to listen to my Bible.”
- -“This unified us. We used to just come to church and leave, but now we can encourage one another.” (That was before we gave them matching fabric as a graduation gift. They will even dress unified!)
When we gave the certificates, I gave a word of encouragement to each woman. I told them how I saw the Holy Spirit working in them and encouraged them to go farther in their faith.
Their lives are forever changed because now they can study the Bible on their own and continue to grow. After they attend five lessons, they can purchase a (subsidized) oral Bible and listen to God’s Word.
While O was listening to her Bible, her neighbors came over because they thought it was a TV show. They stayed and listened to it with her. M.A. listens to a chapter after dinner and encourages her family to talk about the verses and what it means to them.
When we taught what the Bible teaches about raising and disciplining children, you could see their mouths drop open. They were shocked at what the Bible taught and were all convicted to change. They made a pact to follow the Scriptures. The next week R came back and admitted to us how she was about to go back to her old ways. The Holy Spirit reminded her to change. We heard stories of how their husbands, children, and even their neighbors noticed the changes. This allowed them to share from God’s Word WHY they changed.
There was a death in the village and some of the closest relatives and neighbors had to miss a lesson. We always review the previous lesson and ask how they used it. One of the women who missed a meeting raised her hand to answer a question. She answered word for word from our lesson. Apparently, her friend J went home and taught her the lesson. She didn’t want to miss out of any of the learning.
This program will not be able to duplicate itself in Ngohé because none of the women can read. Each woman received a basic understanding of the Bible and the tools to spiritually grow on their own. In other villages like Langomack, it is being re-taught. Even though we left women in charge, they wanted the pastor to teach them.
I have visited them three times this year to encourage them and check on their progress. On my last visit, the pastor was willing to give up the control and N was excited to take on the responsibility to teach. In the village of Gandiol, they no longer teach Formation Lois. P has taught the program so many times that almost all the Christian women have a good base and they are meeting together, studying the Scriptures on their own and teaching each other with their own program.
How has reading this increased your desire to read the Bible more and apply it to your life? In the comments, share your answer. Or, write out a prayer for these ladies and their families.