Women’s Ministry – Learning to read

Russ & Lyn Noble are working with the African Inland Church (AIC) in South Sudan to develop an adult literacy programme. They talk here about how this programme is helping many women who often feel marginalised and lacking in confidence.

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Learning to read

Torit is the capital of Eastern Equatoria State in South Sudan. We are thankful for the relative calm during the last seven months of great political upheaval and suffering in this newest nation in the world.

The majority of Christians in the AIC church around Torit are women – most of these women cannot read in any language! Our main focus since 2007 has been training and equipping volunteer literacy teachers from the AIC among the Otuho people group. We have been working with them to develop a learning curriculum for adults along with small books of Old Testament stories. Most of the literacy teachers are male church leaders. Most of the adult learners are women who have never been to school, mainly because of war and the limitations of their culture.

“Her 30-year old son, a soldier in the army, was killed in the fighting against rebels in February”

Women in South Sudan are marginalised. This has led to many women lacking confidence to try new things, low in self-esteem to speak out, not being invited to training, and as they cannot read the Bible for themselves; not reaching their full spiritual potential in the Lord.

Davitika’s prayer

Davitika is a very active woman in her local church. She has suffered a lot recently. Her 30-year old son, a soldier in the army, was killed in the fighting against rebels in February. Then in April her home was bulldozed down to clear poor people away from an area wanted by the government. Davitika longs to be able to read well. This was her prayer translated from Juba Arabic, another language we work with, at a recent lesson time…


Davitika has suffered a lot in recent years, yet is very active in her local church. She attends one of the the literacy classes run by Russ & Lyn Noble.

“May our hearts be opened. May our minds be opened so that in the night, whilst we sleep, all this knowledge will enter us like a dream and we will remember it. Help us to take what we are learning so that we can teach those in darkness.”

Women of South Sudan

In July 2011, South Sudan gained independence, an outcome of a peace deal that ended Africa’s longest running civil war. Peace was short lived, with Presidential power struggles soon leading to violence. Unrest, poverty and lack of infrastructure means that few receive any meaningful education, with only 16% of girls learning to read (the lowest female literacy rate in the world). A woman is more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than graduate from primary school.

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