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What is Literacy Missions?

The object of the Mississippi Literacy Missions Ministry is to help churches and associations become more aware of the opportunities that God has given us to reach people and be a witness for Jesus by ministering to their special needs in the areas of literacy, language, tutoring and Bible Storytelling.

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Many foreign born residents have heard the Gospel of Christ for the first time through an ESL Ministry offered by a church or association in their community. They have experienced the love of Jesus through the example and witness of ESL volunteers. Combined, Mississippi Literacy Missions Ministries have had students from some 75 different nations attend classes. This is an opportunity for churches to virtually have a foreign mission project in its own neighborhood.

Although the need to understand our language and culture is the perceived need of the students who attend ESL classes, the church has the opportunity to introduce Jesus and witness to the students through the close relationships built between the students and volunteer teachers, plus having Bible teaching during the meeting period. Bible study groups have been formed from ESL students and in some cases, ethnic church starts have begun.


More and more people are having the opportunity to take mission experiences into foreign countries. One excellent avenue used to enter a country is teaching English. Using some of the same methods and different resources as ESL an English as a Foreign Language (EFL) training will help equip these volunteers. Although the door is not always open to present the Good News, it seems everyone wants to learn English. EFL training will give some helps and guidelines for sharing Jesus’ love through English classes.


According to a National Adult Literacy Survey, more than 64% of Mississippi adults are in the lowest two levels of functional literacy proficiency. Other statistics show that 90% of inmates in Mississippi prisons have never completed high school and over 50% of them cannot read.

These statistics represent a cross section of most of the communities around our churches and translates to the fact that approximately one in five adults cannot read the Bible. Many adults who have enrolled in reading and writing classes have indicated that their main purpose in learning to read is to be able to read from God’s Word.

The Laubach Way to Reading and Writing method is utilized by the Mississippi Literacy Missions Ministry. In addition, Bible material is included which enables the students to read and understand the Bible as they learn to read.


In too many cases, children in our state fall behind in the early grades, especially in reading and math skills, and are seldom able to catch up to grade level. A large percentage of these children face situations in their home life that is not conducive to learning, have a history of irregular school attendance, and suffer from low self-esteem. Many are from unchurched families and have had little, if any, exposure to the Bible.

One of three children starting kindergarten this year will not graduate from high school. Some who do graduate will have never actually learned to read. The largest percent of the unemployed and underemployed are from these groups as well as the highest percent of those involved in the juvenile justice system.

In response to the ever-increasing numbers of children with academic difficulties, a tutoring workshop has been developed. Through this workshop, volunteers are trained to address the spiritual and emotional, as well, as academic needs of children and youth.


Oral communicators make up more than 64% of the population of Mississippi. Oral communicators are those individuals who communicate primarily, due to lack of reading and writing skills or due to preference, through oral, narrative means rather than through writing. Their orality increasingly isolates them from the literate population and from existing churches that use almost totally literate, expositional evangelism, discipleship and training approaches.

This would make oral communicators the largest unreached people group in Mississippi. If they are to hear, understand, and remember the Gospel, their primary hope for possessing God’s Word is an oral Bible gained through Chronological Bible Storying.

CONTACT Paula Smith at Mississippi WMU Department
P.O. Box 530, Jackson, MS 39205
1-800-748-1651 ext. 336 or 601-292-3336

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