A chorus of small voices

Literacy is a key that opens doors to the gospel.

As missionary Mike Riepma walks past the village “literacy house” he smiles at the happy sounds he hears from the open windows: a cheerful chorus of young children’s voices.

Na … ni … no … ne … na’ …

Missionary Mike Riepma says it’s a delight to hear 19 Ese Ejja first-graders learning to read and write in their own language in a class taught by his wife, Cher, and their daughter Melissa.

“This sure has been an answer to prayer,” he writes. The chance to teach these young Ese Ejja children by helping in a local school is a wonderful opportunity, one that Cher and Melissa delight in.

Until recently, these same young children were dragging in their studies. They were not very interested in attending school, even with offers of a free breakfast. The studies had been in Spanish, taught by teachers who could not speak the children’s tribal language.

Classes in their heart language are making all the difference.

“Cher has worked very hard the last couple of years to redo the reading primers,” Mike explains. “And Melissa has been a huge blessing, since these young children need lots of personal help and attention.”

Through the years, there has been much time invested in producing quality Ese Ejja reading materials. “But,” Mike says, “if the people can’t read them, how can they have any effect on their lives?”

Which explains why the Riepmas are excited, not only about the morning classes for young children, but also about the afternoon classes where Cher teaches literacy to Ese Ejja young adults.

101 Favorite Bible Stories has just been completed and printed in Ese Ejja. “We are praying that believers will use this book to read to their children each day and help lay foundations for their faith in God,” Mike shares.

Tribal literacy ministries open the door to the Ese Ejja people learning to read Scripture in their own language. This enables believers to be better equipped to mature in their faith and walk with Christ and to share the Good News of Jesus with others.