Literacy Under Half a Roof
July 3, 2023

Tucked away in a hilly area, scattered with large sculptural rock formations in central northern Tanzania, lives a tribe called the Nyisanzu. Proud of their culture and way of life, they are primarily farmers who rely heavily on the seasonal flooding of the rivers for their agriculture and everyday domestic needs. In dry seasons, they have very little access to water. It is estimated that there are about 99,000 Nyisanzu people in this region.

In the Singida Region of Mkalama District, there is a kindergarten school building with half a roof. Inside this building, God is shaping a generation of young Nyisanzu Tanzanians through the love and service of four men who have responded to His call. Samweli Mlilo is the team leader of the Bible translation team who began their project in 2019. Samweli is well-known and loved by the community and has been in different leadership positions in local government at district and regional levels. On the team with him are Lutu Mgilitwe, Josephat Mpenengu and Ernest Mkankule, who are passionate about translating God’s Word into their mother tongue. These men, called by God, spend their days loving Him by serving their people through providing for their families in agriculture, translating and teaching the Bible, sharing the Gospel, empowering students through literacy and championing the carrying forward of the Nyisanzu culture.

Lutu Mgilitwe is so committed to God’s Word and his heart language that he volunteers his time to go to the building with half a roof every Sunday to teach both literacy and the Bible to a large group of eager and enthusiastic little ones. Lutu joined TWFTW in 2020, and he is a busy man - he and his wife have seven children of their own! Receiving equipment that will help with his translation work has given him excitement and encouragement. He had never had a phone or a computer before he started this work, so this provision has had a profound impact on his own life. He believes God has provided these tools so he can obey and run the road that God has called him to in mother-tongue Bible translation work. He is excited and blessed to do this work because he has seen for himself the thirst for heart-language Bibles in his own community.

Lutu is an example of a man who is answering God’s call on his life above and beyond translation work. He understands the value of teaching the younger generation how to read and write in their own language, and he gives up his free time to do so. May those little ones be blessed as they sit under the school with half a roof and receive potentially life-changing lessons!

Literacy plays a vital role in preserving and promoting the cultural heritage of language groups. When people can read and write in their mother tongue, they can document and pass down their traditions, stories, histories, and cultural knowledge to future generations. Literacy allows for the creation of written literature, which not only enriches the cultural identity of a community, but also helps in the revitalization and maintenance of the language itself. Literacy education has the power to break the cycle of poverty in disadvantaged communities. By equipping young people with strong literacy skills, they gain the ability to access further education and acquire the knowledge necessary for economic empowerment. Literacy enables them to pursue higher education, vocational training, or skill in development programs, which significantly increases their chances of securing better employment opportunities and escaping the cycle of poverty. Literate individuals are better equipped to navigate the job market, enhance their earning potential and improve their overall socioeconomic conditions.

Please pray for Samweli, Lutu, Josephat, and Ernest that the Holy Spirit would continue to bless them with strength, capacity and endurance in the mission to which He has called them. Please pray that God would give them the wisdom to translate with accuracy, clarity and naturalness. And if you feel called to be a catalyst in supporting their work, sign up for our newsletter, join our prayer list or sow a verse ‘seed’.

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