Slums and Poverty, Literacy and Hope
As we journey down some narrow Indonesian gravel roads which look more like paths than roads, we get a smell of the litter that is strewn across the sprawling slum in a village outside a main metro centre. Our road takes us past a river and it too has a stench of pollution and sewer. We arrive at a community centre which is rented out for our Bible-based Literacy partner to hold classes. It’s a good-sized room and soon is filled with the buzz of 38 young children who are attending the class. It is here that they get to experience the love, acceptance and example of Christian volunteers who faithfully help them each week to learn to read and write.
As a result of the poverty levels, many here will never go to school. Even if they do, will probably drop out early, as they are sent onto the streets to earn a few Rupiah to help their families survive. The children are eager to gain literacy and not merely because they realise this is the way to a lifetime of learning, but also because they know, even at a young age, that literacy has the power to set them free economically.
It becomes blindingly obvious that many in the class are Muslim children and so we approach one of the young girls, Farah*, to ask her how she came to be in the Bible-based Literacy class. She tells us, “I have signed permission from my parents. They are strong Muslims and they don’t believe that any Muslim can be converted to Christianity. In Islam you will be executed if you become a Christian.” Whilst she is correct about her facts, one can’t help thinking that she is under-estimating the power of the Holy Spirit.
The class continues and the children are keen participants in each and every activity. There is a hunger here, a hunger for literacy, but also a hunger for the Word. As the class reaches the part of the lesson where there is a Bible story the interest seems to intensify. Almost as if this is what they have come to hear, their engagement and excitement seem to culminate in some inquisitive questions and debate.
They want to know about this man named Jesus.
Farah asks, “Is it true that Jesus came to die for everyone? I know his mother Maryam (Mary in Arabic) is talked about in the Quran.” This prompts a great answer and explanation from the literacy facilitator.
As we leave the class to travel to the next ministry area, we can’t help but feel elated that God is doing an incredible thing here in the slums of Indonesia. Children are learning to read and write, but more than this they are learning about Jesus and His salvation power. The sun is high and temperatures are soaring in a place which should evoke a poignant sadness, but there is hope, a hope that many are hearing the Word and becoming followers of Christ.
Will you help share about Jesus with Muslim children in Indonesia? Just $10 will help provide a Bible to change a life!
Pray that more people in Indonesia hear the Gospel message despite increasing persecution in the country.
*Name changed for security reasons
The ministry of Bible League Australia is able to plant God’s Word solely through the generous support of the Christian community.