Tutoring Online: A Tale of Two New Readers

March 1, 2021


In Feb. 2019 the pastor of City Hope Church brought Daniel to Literacy & Evangelism International (LEI) for evaluation. Daniel found our website and told his pastor he could get help with reading at LEI. Daniel wanted to read better but especially to be able to read his Bible.

As our Tulsa Literacy Center Coordinator, Ellenor, recently returned to S. Africa, Bob Biederman evaluated Daniel and then began to tutor him from Book 1 of the Firm Foundations series. If Daniel’s pastor could not bring him, he would ride his bike 9 miles to the class. He was determined to learn how to read.

A short time later another tutor, Bruce took over the tutoring and worked with Daniel for over a year. Bruce and Daniel would meet at a local library each week for the reading lessons. Not only did he help Daniel with the reading, he also assisted him with writing and math.

 Bruce wrote about Daniel, “He’s very diligent about doing his homework and meeting with me each week…. And he never fails to tell me how much he appreciates LEI (and myself) in helping him to read, which in turn, leads him in growing as an adult…. His dream now is to get his GED….He continues to grow spiritually and now reads his Bible on his own.”

In early 2020 Bruce had to stop tutoring due to a new job.  At that point Bob took over again. Due to Covid-19 we began to tutor online thanks to the great strides LEI’s made in online learning & training. We lent Daniel a computer to use for his literacy lessons. Each week for an hour and a half Bob & Daniel would meet on a Zoom call.

In September Ellenor took over the tutoring of  Daniel online from her home in Johannesburg.  When it is noon in Tulsa it is 8 PM in S. Africa. In December Daniel completed all of the books in the Firm Foundation’s series. He received a certificate of completion and a gift Bible from LEI to celebrate this milestone.

Ellenor wrote recently, “Working with Daniel has been gratifying and a blessing in my life. I am inspired by his enthusiasm about learning, his commitment, and his sincerity to the Lord. I look forward to us reading and discovering the Bible together as we continue with lessons in the months to come.”

Daniel wishes to continue improving in his reading. Ellenor will help him with online Bible reading to further augment his reading level. He summarized his experience in these words:

This was so enjoyable and a blessing from God. It’s given me hope and faith I can actually read full paragraphs of the Bible now in the Easy-to-read and ESV translations….Each day I read a devotional and Scripture passage. It is so encouraging to read the promises of God…. The tutors did good work and helped me a lot….You all at LEI are great!”

Daniel told me that when he was a child, he felt God might want him to become a pastor. As he makes further progress in reading that dream is a step closer.

“But these are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).

“For God so loved the Lord that he gave his only Son that whoever believes in him will not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Daniel displaying his certificate for completing over 80 lessons in the LITERACY PROGRAM. HE IS AN AVID BIBLE READER AND MAY ONE DAY GO INTO THE MINISTRY.

Cornelius – by Larry Buell

My first inkling of the wonderful adventure to come came in early 2019. Bob Biederman, our Managing Director for N. America & Europe, had received information from our Office Manager, Emily Persson, that someone wanted tutoring in Mississippi. But they both could barely understand the person on the phone, so they asked if I would mind calling him to find out details.

Curious and happy to oblige, I returned the call. This was my first contact with Cornelius. He spoke very rapidly, in a kind of patois that dropped endings to words and ran the words together. But we were able to ascertain that he had found Literacy Evangelism International (LEI) online and wanted to know if we could set up remote tutoring for him.

Cornelius is a firefighter in Mississippi. He is in his mid-20s, with a son and significant other. He was a victim of a school system that passed him all the way through high school, without addressing his reading issues. That issue, as I came to discover as we began our tutoring sessions, was mainly of word substitution. 

Let me explain briefly. The brain is designed by our Lord to gather information and transform it into images/patterns that we can then process to make decisions. For example, our eyes act like the cameras of old, reversing images sent through the optic nerve to the brain (making them upside down). Our brain learns to reorient these to an upright position, in accordance with gravity. Our eyes also do not present a smooth image to our brains, but rather like a dot-matrix image. Our brains are designed to ‘fill in the gaps’ to make the images appear smooth and continuous. 

In Cornelius’ case, his brain was overdoing this kind of transformation/substitution. When he would see the word “God” his mind would transform it into “Jesus”. He also transformed personal/possessive pronouns into other forms. The same thing happened with verb tenses. His mind would jump over 3+ syllable words, so he had no idea what they were.

Sadly, none of his teachers ever addressed this issue as he was going through school, so he ended up graduating without being fully literate. He did try to seek help but was told by his counselors that none was available in his small town. 

But one of the great things about Cornelius is that he is very persistent! He desires very much to improve his life/income to better support his family. He would like to become a fire marshall, or even a police officer. He realized that this would mandate an improvement in his reading. So, searching the internet, the Lord led him to LEI.

Beginning in March, 2019, we started our remote tutoring sessions in the middle of the second of three Firm Foundations books (completing all three books yields a reading level of about the 4th grade). Since a fire marshall needs to be prepared to give testimony in court, one of the first things I worked with him on was slowing down his speech and adding the proper endings. Initially a struggle, he improved with every lesson and his diction is now vastly improved!

Words over two syllables also perplexed him early on. But we worked on subdividing words into their syllable components, and now he is able to figure out many 3-4 syllable words on sight! We are also mirroring the repetition method Firm Foundations uses, by having Cornelius repeat five times every word he is unfamiliar with when reading.

We initially used Skype for our sessions. I would share my screen with Cornelius, and use my mouse as I would my finger for in-person pointing/highlighting. This worked amazingly well! Then Cornelius’ computer died. We decided to try just walking through a lesson verbally over the phone. Firm Foundations is organized in such a way to make this very doable! 

Cornelius was not brought up in the church. He was unfamiliar with things like the story of Adam and Eve, Noah and the Ark, Moses, John the Baptist, the disciples, etc. He knew the word Jesus, but not the mercy/grace of Jesus. So the Scripture lessons that accompany the Firm Foundations lessons were in the main new to him. But they excited him, and gave him a glimpse of something wonderful to come. Cornelius later told me he had tried attending church once, but the pastor was corrupt and absconded with church funds, which left him disillusioned with Christianity. He later told me that working with LEI had given him new hope in Christianity, because we were patient and supportive of him, his reading and verbal needs, and his questions about Jesus, God and faith.

Cornelius stayed the course, and finally completed the last lesson in Book Three in December, 2020. We sent him a certificate of completion, and a New Living Translation (NLT) Bible, the same one we’d used during the sessions to do our Scripture readings (via the free online BlueLetterBible app). He was ecstatic! He sent me a note saying the NLT Bible was the best present he’d ever received.

But the best gift of all, to me, was Cornelius’ response to the final question in the final story in lesson 80: “Have you accepted Jesus’ gift of eternal life in heaven?” Cornelius answered with a soft but firm “Yes sir, I have.”

We are still continuing to meet after finishing the Firm Foundation books. Cornelius wants to learn to read and understand more of the Bible so he will feel comfortable choosing and attending a church. We started with the book of John, because this book lays the groundwork for the deity of Christ and His place in our lives. We go through a chapter verse by verse. First Cornelius reads a verse out loud. Then we discuss any words/places he is unfamiliar with. Then we talk about what the verse means. He is so excited to continue his education in literacy and faith through Bible reading! And so am I!



Celebration of online International Literacy Training Institute 2021

October 21, 2021

On October 15th we held a celebration for our 2021 online training. There were three people who completed all of the six courses required to “graduate” from our International Literacy Training Institute. However, there were over fifty people who took one or more classes during the year.

Our online training ran from January through the end of September. The graphic below shows the courses and when they were offered. We are very proud of all who participated in this year’s training: students, instructors, LEI staff.

Dr. Rebecca Foote recently took over responsibility for our online courses from Dr. Melina Gallo. Melina did an amazing job helping us transition from in person to online training. With this project behind her, she is moving on to another – Light of the World ESL curriculum. Rebecca is a seasoned educator with a lot of experience in online instruction. Despite a new job, she is overseeing all of our online classes

I was invited to bring a challenge to our participants as part of the celebration. Here are my remarks :


I want to add my congratulations to those special participants who completed all the courses in ILTI 2021. That is a wonderful accomplishment and we at LEI are very proud of you in reaching this milestone! Congratulations.  You have done an amazing amount of work and succeeded over the past year.

I would also like to say to those who’ve completed one or more courses, “you’re doing great, don’t stop, keep going.” I hope you too will also be able to finish the courses of our ILTI training in 2022. These are powerful tools which you can use in ministry.

Dr. Dyson

Dr. Bert Dyson was a S. Baptist missionary who was dubbed “Mr. Literacy” for his lengthy service in West Africa. He and his wife Ruth spent 35 years teaching people to read their own languages so they could know the Lord and read His Word each day. When he retired to the U.S. due to health reasons, he began to teach at Literacy & Evangelism’s annual Literacy Institute called the Fall Literacy Institute and later the International Literacy Training Institute or ILTI. Dr. Dyson was greatly admired by all of us for his decades of experience, his inspiring stories and his love for the students. . His book Teacher Training Workshops: A Literacy Leader’s Guide by Dyson/Lodes continues to be the foundation of all our training on how use Bible-content primers in over 270 languages/dialects around the world.

When Dr. Dyson taught at ILTI in Tulsa, he would always include a Scripture verse to encourage the class in their literacy work. For this work can be slow and challenging but it is thorough and fruitful. The verse was I Cor. 15:58 .

This verse comes at the conclusion of Paul’s writing about the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of Christians at the end of his lengthy Epistle to the Corinthians. I Cor. 15 profound chapter full of spiritual insight into the bedrock of Jesus’ rising from the grave and its evidence of a future resurrection for believers. At the end of the chapter Paul concludes with these re-assuring words which Dr. Dyson coined “the Literacy Worker’s Consolation,” I Cor. 15:58

“Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord inasmuch as ye know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” KJV

Let’s consider briefly:

I. Literacy Miinistry requires strength. Paul writes “therefore my beloved brethren be ye steadfast, immoveable”

Paul reminds us of the need for strength to be steadfast & immoveable. Literacy ministry is a slow but thorough tool for evangelizing and discipling as the founder of LEI, Dr. Robert Rice often observed.  Literacy classes or ESL classes require preparation, patience and commitment. Sometimes a teacher can be discouraged at the pace of progress or frustrated at the challenges of this work. Maybe there is difficulty in finding a suitable location for the literacy or ESL class. And at times there may be misunderstanding with co-workers. Materials may not be on hand at the time needed. Students may drop out. But we need to be steadfast and immoveable in the face of any obstacles.

  • Illustration

In Sequoia National Park in CA you’ll find the largest tree in the world named “General Sherman Tree.” It stands 275 feet (or 83 meters)tall .  This is the equivalent of a 25 story building! In addition the tree is 36 feet ( or 11 meters ) in diameter. It is over 2000 years old. Can you imagine the number of storms, high winds, heat and cold that tree endured over two millennia?  Yet it remains steadfast and immoveable rooted in the ground along with many other sequoias in that park.

  • Application

 This is the kind of strength Paul is talking about in our work with literacy. We must be steady and unshakeable. This kind of strength however, comes only from God. In Phil 4:13 the apostle writes, “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.” The Lord will make you steadfast and immoveable. Literacy Ministry requires strength and God will provide that for you.

II. Literacy Ministry is characterized by exhuberance. Paul writes “therefore my beloved brethren be ye steadfast, immoveable always abounding in the work of the Lord

When I talk about literacy ministry and exhuberance I mean this work require excitement, energy, and an overflowing. When Paul tells us to abound in the work of the Lord he means to go beyond. Don’t simply do enough but go above and beyond in your ministry. There is a beautiful picture in Psalm 23:5 which says, “he anointeth my head with oil, my cup runneth over.” Can you see that image of a cup being filled more and more with precious oil. It reaches the top but there is no more space and it begins to run over the sides. The oil keeps coming and flow, the overflow continues. This is a picture of abounding. Doing more than enough but going above and beyond as we serve the Lord in this work.  Paul says we are to be always abounding in the work of the Lord.

  • Work of the Lord

 Now literacy evangelism is certainly a work of the Lord. As we teach with Bible-content primers, as we instruct using stories from Scripture in our English lessons, we are doing the work of the Lord. Right now around the world Christians are reading their Bibles because a teacher mastered the 5 steps and began a class.  Prior to the literacy class the Word of God remained closed, locked to non-readers. People came to a class for the purpose of learning to read or wishing to speak English. But in the weeks and months of learning they found a treasure far greater than they could ever imagine.  They learned about the One who came “to seek and to save the lost” (Luke 19:10). As students worked with lessons with stories about Jesus, as learners observed the love of their teacher, the Holy Spirit began to draw them to “the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).  

  • Application

This work is a divine call to help people with necessary skills for life but also to point them to the only One who alone can give “life and life abundantly” (John 10:10). Literacy Ministry is characterized by exhuberance,  an overflowing, abounding in all we do in this work.

III.Literacy Ministry produces fruit. “Therefore my beloved brethren be ye steadfast, immoveable always abounding in the work of the Lord inasmuch as ye know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.

I enjoy painting not using an easel but painting a room in a house. I like it because in a relatively short period of time you can see a tremendous difference. Unfortunately, in life few things show such immediate change and improvement. That is true also in literacy ministry.

It takes time to master the steps to teach a primer in Spanish or Hausa or Kiswahili. It also takes time to begin a literacy or ESL class. Learners do not master the art of reading or learn to speak after a few lessons. Teachers must be committed and faithful in meeting with the learners. There is a lot of work to get a class started. Publicity, recruitment of learners, finding a good location, getting primers, ETC. Literacy ministry is not a quick and easy work. We may be tempted to think we are not having an impact or that progress is too slow. However, it is very fruitful in equipping people to read the Bible and in transforming lives.

Paul reminds us in our verse that our work for the Lord is not in vain, that is, not empty, not worthless, not fleeting. This work will continue and endure. As the little couplet says, “one short life twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.”

  • Illustration

        A number of years ago I was living in the dormitory at LEI. I loved the time of our training Institutes as that facility would come to life. Pastors, missionaries, Christian workers would reside in all rooms of the building. At that time I wanted to plant a vegetable garden so after meals during the Institutes I would collect compost material like fruits and vegetables, coffee grounds, egg shell and the like. I would dutifully carry this organic material and deposit it in a compost pile behind the dormitory.  I really worked hard to produce rich, organic material or “black gold” as gardeners like to call it.

        Around that time I went to Brazil for 5 weeks and had an amazing time with TTW’s using the Portuguese primer. We trained over 100 people to teach non-readers at two churches in Belo Horizonte. When I returned I discovered, to my dismay, that Rev. Rice had taken all my compost and had it spread around the plants & shrubs in front of the Tutor Place Dormitory. I was heartbroken thinking about all my efforts for the vegetable garden were gone, in vain, fruitless.

        A few weeks after my return we were in the midst of another Literacy Institute with folks from around the world. James may remember this because he was one of the trainees there at that time. After about a month the plants & shrubs around Tutor Place just blossomed and flourished due to the compost. But something else happened – among the plants and shrubs vegetables and fruit started to grow. The compost spread on the plants produced tomatoes, 5 cantaloupes, two watermelon and other items that I would have liked to grow in a vegetable garden.

  I thought to myself – this is God. He takes disappointments, hardships, scars in our lives and he transforms them into something beautiful. My compost was gone yet it was re-purposed to fertilize the plants outside of the Dormitory. Not only that, but it produced fruit beyond my imagination and that without any work from me!

  • Application

  When we are involved in ministry we need to remind ourselves that our work is not in vain. It will be productive. The fruit it may be as unexpected as that compost spread around plants and shrubs at Tutor Place. This is a promise –  your labor in the Lord is not in vain! Literacy Ministry produces fruit.

We’ve looked briefly at this concluding verse of I Cor. 15:58 “Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord in as much as ye know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. “

  • Literacy Ministry requires  strength (“steadfast, immoveable.”)
  • Literacy Ministry is characterized by exhuberance (abounding in the work of the Lord)
  • Literacy Ministry produces fruit. (labor is not in vain)

May God bless each of you in this special work of the Lord as we celebrate your accomplishments this day.

“Reading gave me the right outlook on life.” – Taffrey

February 10, 2020

“The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel: 2 for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; 3 for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; 4 for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young.”                                                                                     Proverbs 1:1-4


Taffrey receives a certificate and a Bible upon completing the Firm Foundations curriculum. His first tutor, Oscar, taught him through 7 books. 

Taffrey’s Progress in Literacy

Taffrey came to Tulsa Literacy Center (TLC) in February 2016 and expressed desire to learn to read/write better. He wanted to better himself and improve his chances for employment. Taffrey was assessed by Rebecca Foote and matched with Oscar Kastner. Our evaluation indicated he should start at the Pre-Reader level in our Bible-content Firm Foundations curriculum.


Oscar holds a certificate at the conclusion of a Tutor Training Workshop. He and the others pictured here successfully completed a 10 hour training. Oscar tutored Taffrey through 7 books of Firm Foundations. 

Taffrey was tutored by Oscar Kastner who patiently taught him all the books in the Firm Foundations curriculum (7 books). Upon completion, Oscar continued to enlarge his skills by helping him read from the Gospels. When Oscar had to step down due to health, Ellenor Gopal continued to assist Taffrey. In addition to using a computerized literacy curriculum called Project Light, she patiently helped him to read the Bible.


Ellenor talks with a student at ORU about the mission of Literacy & Evangelism. She served as our Tulsa Literacy Center Coordinator and also tutored Taffrey. 

When Ellenor returned to S. Africa, Dr. Dwayne Noble, our newest tutor began to work with Taffrey.  Dwayne has access to many resources to help his student. He meets with Taffrey weekly for an hour. Regular homework is assigned each time which Taffrey diligently completes. Dwayne tutored Taffrey for 3 months and believes in another 3 months he will be reading the newspaper! At this time he is already reading parts of the sports section of the Tulsa World. Once he reaches a 5-6th grade level, Taffrey can continue to raise his reading level simply by reading on his own.


Dwayne is currently working with Taffrey and expects to help him reach a 5-6th grade level in the next few months.

Taffrey said, “all of the tutors were great. Oscar helped me understand more of the Bible. Ellenor helped me to use a reading program on the computer. Dwayne is building on a foundation and helping me learn a lot… I couldn’t ask for more than this. To me (reading) is more precious than money, a car or a house. Nothing else matters to me more than education and to be able to read & write.”

He is passionate about learning. He wants his 5-year old daughter to become a good reader. He knows how important education is in life as he was deprived as a child. Taffrey dreams of going to church and following the Scripture reading in his own Bible.

His Background

Taffrey was born in Kingston, Jamaica. He was the 8th of 9 children and the 2nd youngest. His father left when he was only a year old. As a result of poverty, Taffrey dropped out of school after the 3rd grade and worked to support the family. His jobs included selling gravel and sand sifted from the local riverbank, breaking stones to sell for construction and selling seasonal fruits such as mangoes, apples, Spanish limes, guave and breadfruit. At other times he would catch fish and sell them as quickly as possible before they spoil in the hot Jamaican sun.

He met his wife Debbie in Kingston. She graduated from high school and then went to the University of the West Indies. She became a R.N. and worked in a local hospital. Friends told her of a need for nurses in the Bahamas. After marriage the couple moved to the Bahamas for a year. Eventually Debbie received a job offer in the U.S. The family moved to Tulsa and Debbie began work at St. John’s Hospital.

On her way to work one day Debbie saw a sign across the street from their apartment for the “Tulsa Literacy Center.” She encouraged her husband to come and ask for help. Taffrey has come weekly for reading lessons ever since. His tutors help him climb ever higher up the ladder of literacy. Taffrey concludes, “Reading helped me a lot. I can spell names. I could never spell the month of my birth. This will help me build a better future. I want to reach out on social media and churches to tell others that my life changed drastically for the better. .. Reading gave me the right outlook on life.”





Partnership with Bible League International

December 3, 2019

Leaders of Literacy & Evangelism International – Dr. James Kigamwa, Dr. Melina Gallo, Dr. Sid Rice, Tedd Lodes and I – met with Lee Carter (third from right) and his staff at Bible League International headquarters. 

This fall several leaders of Literacy & Evangelism traveled to Crete, IL the headquarters of Bible League International (BLI). Over the last six years we’ve partnered with BLI in their outreach around the world. A number of their staff attended our International Literacy Training Institute (ILTI) to learn how to use Literacy & Evangelism materials. They in turn used primers in different languages to supplement their ministries.

Lee Carter is the Ex. VP for Operations at BLI. This organization began in 1936 when Bill Chapman became ill and was hospitalized.  An elder from his church visited and prayed that God would spare his life so that Bill could serve the Lord. That night Bill prayed that God would use him in any avenue of service if his health was restored. Upon leaving the hospital, Bill and his wife Betty, purchased 1000 Bibles which they distributed door-to-door in their hometown to those who did not have the Word of God. The couple always asked the recipients to promise to read the Bible they were given. This act of obedience developed into the “World Home Bible League.” This national organization became international when Gen. Douglas MacArthur appealed for Bibles for Japan after WW II.


In front of the four panels which depict the ministries of BLI : Project Philip, Bible-based literacy, Church Planter Training and Translation.

For 83 years Bible League International distributed the Bible touching over 50 million lives with the Good News of Jesus. They work in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East and the U.S. They have a vast network around the world connected with local churches. BLI serves the under resourced church worldwide. BLI provides Bibles and training to transform lives. This is carried under through “Project Philip” which trains church members in evangelism and discipleship. A second avenue of ministry is “Bible-based literacy” using LEI methods & materials. They understand the need not only to provide the Bible but also help the illiterate to be able to read it. A third avenue is “church-planter training” to spread the Gospel to the ends of the earth. A fourth avenue of work is “Bible translation” using an easy-to-read version (ERV) in everyday language. This simplified Bible is currently available in 20 languages with many more in progress.


Dr. James Kigamwa,  Literacy & Evangelism’s Managing Director for Africa, is beside a display of BLI material. Our Bible-content Firm Foundations curriculum to teach reading is displayed here with its bright, yellow cover.

During our meeting we updated the staff of BLI concerning LEI’s development of online classes. Previously interested people would apply to attend the annual International Literacy Training Institute. This is offered each summer in Tulsa, OK. However now that we have 7 online classes, anyone with access to the internet can take training. This saves tremendous costs in travel and also expands the training from annually to several times a year. BLI workers are extremely interested in getting further training through the online classes.

We were excited to learn how BLI is using Bible-content primers in their global outreach especially in the Asia/Pacific region, Africa and Latin America. They receive many reports of people coming to faith, non-readers learning to read the Bible, church planters starting new congregations and lives changed and transformed! Lee Carter noted that the Literacy & Evangelism primers have been “a tremendously impactful ministry bearing fruit around the world.”

Johann’s Gutenberg’s printing press made possible the mass distribution of the Bible. The first book ever printed on a moveable type press was the Latin Bible. 

We are grateful for the ongoing relationship with Bible League International. We look forward to continuing to partner and cooperate in getting the Good News of the Gospel to every corner of the world. You can view their website to learn more: https://www.bibleleague.org/

Dr. Sid Rice and I in front of the Bible League headquarters in Crete, IL. In the glass you can see a reflection of a globe highlighting the worldwide  outreach of Bible League International. 


AEI (LEI) Mission in Brazil

August 22, 2019

Tedd, Melise, Nilza, Selma, Cilseia, Edson and Helsa met in Belo Horizonte to discuss the work in Brazil.


Recently LEI’s Tedd Lodes, Managing Director for Latin America & India, traveled to Brazil. He went specifically to meet some of the LEI (AEI) workers there who continue to use literacy as a means of discipleship and evangelism. Some of the key leaders of LEI (AEI) work in Brazil met with Tedd for updates, planning and prayer.


LEI work in Brazil began in the 90’s when Frank & Judy Valenza of Youth for Christ invited Dr. Bob Rice to develop a Bible-content primer in Portuguese. Judy then brought two Brazilians to Tulsa to attend the 9-week “Fall Literacy Institute” in Tulsa in 1994.  One of these women was Ana Maria Cantao who later became my wife. Judy translated the classes live for the women during the Institute. At the end, Ana joined LEI as a missionary to Brazil. She returned to begin mission work in a country the size of the continental U.S. The two-book Portuguese primer was printed thanks to the vision of the Valenzas from Youth for Christ and Ana’s diligent work to correct and revise the books.



Rev. Ludgero Bonilha Morais served the church for a total of 26 years. He enthusiastically encouraged literacy evangelism work. His church sponsored Ana as a missionary. 


1st Presbyterian in Belo Horizonte celebrated its 106th year of service in 2019. The church provided space for an LEI office which continues there today. 

Ana was assisted by 1st Presbyterian Church of Belo Horizonte pastored by Rev. Ludgero. The church provided office space and a small stipend to help her develop a “literacy evangelism ministry.” Through prayer, sacrifice and persistence this small beginning developed into a flourishing ministry. Copies of the Portuguese primer were printed, teachers trained, literacy classes started. Seminary students attending the school housed at 1st Pres. learned about the program. Upon graduation they invited Ana to train people in their churches to use the Portuguese primer to teach non-readers in the church and community. In addition Ana developed a plan not only to train teachers who would work with non-readers but also to equip “trainers.” These men and women would be able to conduct workshops to train more teachers. The first of these trainings took place in 1998 and equipped 26 people in Brazil. In addition there are many other people who labored diligently to teach non-readers, train tutors or otherwise plant seeds for success. There are too many to name in this article however God knows and will reward the sacrifices and faithfulness of those who worked with AEI (LEI) Brazil.


Prayer is at the heart of all work done by LEI. Ana took Dr. Robert Rice’s recommendation seriously – for every tutor/ student find an intercessor to pray for them. 

However the key to growth is really prayer. Rev. Bob Rice encouraged each literacy teacher to find one intercessor who would pray for the teacher and student. From that time on, Ana encouraged every teacher to find a prayer warrior who would intercede each day for the tutor and student.  In addition, as in Tulsa, a monthly day of prayer/fasting was inaugurated in Brazil to ask for God’s blessing upon the work. Ana believe this did more than anything to propel AEI Brazil to accomplish great things for the Lord. Thousands of teachers trained, thousands of non-readers taught to read, numerous salvations during the literacy classes, many rededications as people grew in their faith. At one time the largest Presbyterian denomination in Brazil (IPB) had the goal of every church in the country starting a literacy class with the Bible-content Portuguese primer.

Here are two brief stories of AEI workers in Brazil from Cilseia and Edson. Cilseia is from Sao Paulo and attended a training 20 years ago. She worked faithfully not only in her city of 12 million people, but also in neighboring states. This is what she wrote us recently about her experience using literacy as a means of discipleship and evangelism:

Cilseia and her husband Clau celebrated 37 years of marriage.

“My work in literacy started in the most difficult time in our family’s life. My husband, Clau, was unemployed and we had two small girls. I was preparing to take a post graduate degree and finishing a seminar to be a church worker. As I was looking for a job, I received a letter about teachers in Africa who taught people to read by writing in the sand! That touched me so much I prayed “Lord here am I, send me.”

     Ana Maria Cantao (Biederman) sent me an invitation to attend a literacy training course. I wondered if I should go. My pastor took the letter to the council and they sent me to the training in another city. Today I am celebrating 20 years of uninterrupted literacy evangelism ministry to the glory of God. God calls – God empowers – God sustains. By God’s grace I’ve trained over 3,000 teachers in Sao Paulo and also traveled to other states in Brazil to conduct trainings.  Here are a few testimonies :

 – My first student, Jose, wanted to read to sing in church. He learned, accepted the Lord and today at 93 continues to walk to church.

– Another student, Jaci, was moved in Lesson 17 after reading about Jesus home in heaven. Reading the question in the story, ‘do you have a home in heaven?’ Jaci accepted Jesus.

– student Edivanir made a profession of faith in Jesus and joined our church. At a congregational meeting her presence made a big difference. We were one member short of a quorum to open the meeting and with her signature the assembly for electing officers was opened! Glory to God!

Dijalma was about to lose his job because he could not read. After finished the literacy lessons he kept his job and later became the manager of the store.

Aunt Deborah wanted to sing in the choir. She completed the reading lessons and realized her dream. She sang in the choir for many years and reads her Bible every day.

-Lucia’s husband spent all their salary before paying the bills. She was illiterate and felt as though she were blind. Lucia learned to read with us and now does the banking, pays the rent and bills each month. Her husband was astonished at the transformation. 

– After conducting a training in a church of Pinheiros, 100 literacy evangelism classes were started in different regions of S. Paulo state.

One sister in the city of Lorraine wanted to learn to read so she could direct the prayer meetings of the church. We taught her and later she became the president of the women’s association (SAFI). It was a blessing for her and the congregation. 

– For 19 years I helped prepare missionaries for overseas work with Kairos Mission. They are working in Cape Verde, Sao Tome, Guiena Bissau, Buine Conakry and elsewhere.
-One missionary taught 27 Muslims with the Bible-content primer. Another in Peru taught an entire family to read so they can now study the Bible and grow in their faith.
– This past April I taught at Kairos Mission. One worker told me of the growing literacy work in a church in France. She reminded me to never give up because this work is growing. We wept together at God’s faithfulness.

Antonia, a student you may remember as you were part of her graduation, today is very successful and achieved so much after first learning to read. 

One doorman came to the literacy class as he was going to be fired as he could not read to deliver the mail. He learned in our classes and was able to keep his job. 

-The Secretary of Education from S. Paulo state sent an official representative at the graduation of 5 students from Aruja. He was very impressed with the work we are doing. 

Dona Maria’s student in Caragua accepted the Lord in the literacy class.  

     Ana I could continue to write but one day I’ll write a book. In these 20 years of ministry, with many struggles, yet my work continues uninterrupted. These are 20 years of VICTORY!”


Cilseia with some of the 3000 + teachers she’s trained in 20 years of ministry. 




We were grateful Pastor Edson and his family could visit us recently during their month stay in the U.S.

Pastor Edson is another gifted servant with years of service in Brazil. He is chairman of the Board of AEI and also teaches the Perspectives Course (on the World Christian Movement) in Brazil. Edson is currently serving as minister of evangelism at 1400 member Fountain Baptist Church in Campinas, SP. At this church he is equipping people to share the Gospel through prison ministry, hospital visitation, martial arts, computer, art  and English classes. He also serves on the Board of AEI (LEI) Brasil. Prior to his call as pastor of evangelism,  he and his wife labored for 10 years with AEI. During that decade, he trained literacy tutors, promoted literacy evangelism work in the states of : Minas Gerais, Sao Paulo, Parana, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul. Edson estimates he trained over 1,500 teachers to use the Portuguese primer. Many trainings were conducted in seminaries and Bible schools such as Word of Life in Brazil.


Edson, Jazela and their two children enjoyed a delicious Brazilian meal at our home in July.

When Ana and I first met Edson and his wife Jazela in Brazil, they shared a vision to travel by RV and train teachers with AEI materials. Little did we realize that is exactly what they did for 10 years! Their tiny “combi” took them to places near and far to train, promote, motivate and equip people for literacy evangelism ministry.

The “combi” which Pastor Edson and Jazela used to travel throughout Brazil for AEI (LEI).


Pastor Edson and family stopped to visit the headquarters of Literacy & Evangelism International. Dr. Sid Rice, Executive Director, welcomed them and gave Edson and opportunity to speak during chapel. It was great for the LEI staff to meet this family and hear of their ministry in Brazil.

Pictured in the fireplace room at LEI are: Sarah, Jazela, Patty HIckman, Emily Person, Pastor Edson, Rodrigo, Sid Rice and myself

By God’s grace the ministry in Brazil continues to bear fruit for the Kingdom. Ana returned to Brazil in the fall of 1994 after training with Literacy & Evangelism in Tulsa. Over the past 25 years, God used the Portuguese primer and ESL materials to help Christians grow in their faith and to provide tools for expanding the Kingdom. We rejoice with AEI Brazil in celebrating the past with the thousands of teachers trained like Cilseia and Edson. At the same time we look forward to the future to see how God will use AEI to reach out to its Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8).




2019 International Literacy Training Institute

July 1, 2019

Participants at the 2019 International Literacy Training Institute. 17 people from 6 nations and 5 states in the U.S. attended the 3-week training. 

We’ve just completed the newly revamped, 3-week Literacy Institute. This is a modification of the 5-week training we’ve done for nearly 20 years. The new format allows participants to choose one of two courses offered each week. While students receive only part of the training of the past, with our new online courses it is possible to take other parts remotely.

The first week the choices were: Leading a Literacy Ministry : English and Leading a Literacy Ministry: Non-English. These trainings gave students the opportunity to learn to use Literacy & Evangelism primers in English or other languages around the world. The first course was taught in our office building while the second in the Tutor Place classroom.

Demonstrating how to use the Firm Foundations primer for literacy in English. Richard, from Ghana, takes the role of a student in learning Step 2 “Find the Picture Words. Larry Buell and Ellenor Gopal assisted me in the week long training. 


Tedd & Emily Lodes along with Nat Nunoo teach how to use LEI primers in different languages. Bible-content primers are available in approximately 270 languages/dialects worldwide..


On the first Sunday our participants visited Kirk of the Hills Church for morning worship. Afterward they spoke to an adult Sunday School class telling about their country and ministry. 


The second week the choices were: Primer Construction and English as a Second Language. The former taught the LEI method of how to develop Bible-content primers. This is the method developed by Dr. Robert F. Rice. The latter was for those wishing to develop a ministry teaching English by using Passport to the World of English or Using Everyday English.


Rev. Carey Jo Johnston oversees Primer Construction and is mentoring Nat Nunoo during the 2nd week. She and Dr. Robert F. Rice developed a manual for developing Bible-content literacy primers. 


Dr. Melina Gallo with assistance from the Orts and Pat Lindsay taught ESL. Participants learned how to use Passport to the World of English and Using Everyday English. 


The second Sunday we visited Tulsa International Fellowship at 1st Presbyterian Church. After the two hour service we stayed for a wonderful meal provided by the ladies of the church. 


The third week the choices were: Leadership or Facilitating LEI’s Online Courses. The former provided a look at leadership and management skills necessary to lead a literacy ministry. These are important to not only develop but also nurture the work once started. The latter taught participants how to oversee our 7 online courses. These are listed on the LEI website under “Training.”

Dr. Sid Rice and Mr. Greg Bennet taught on Leadership during week 3. This course taught principles necessary to develop and maintain a literacy program. 


Dr. Melina Gallo led Facilitating LEI Online Courses. Eight enthusiastic learners completed this new course offering. 

In addition to the above courses, students learned how to lead an Inductive Bible study. This hands-on study met each morning from 7:30 – 8:20 AM.  After learning the principles of IBS, learners took turns leading a study in Philippians or Daniel.

Joel Assaraf a pastor from Saddleback Church demostrates the Inductive method for Bible study.  Saddleback is partnering with LEI to use literacy/ESL in the PEACE plan. 


Chapel is always a highlight of each day. Participants choose favorite hymns, select Scripture passages and share testimonies at 11:30 daily. These times give us an opportunity to become better acquainted, to hear the Word of God and to intercede for one another.


At the completion of chapel we surround and pray for the speaker. Silas from Ghana shared about the ministry that he and his wife Mary are leading. 


Anglican clergy –  Bishop Peter Bol Arok and Rev. William Mangok – are serving in South Sudan. They shared the great need to reach people with the Gospel, especially the children. 


Following chapel, students, staff and instructors retire to the dining room for a delicious lunch. Groups from various churches provide the main meal of the day served at noon. There are often close to 40 people at the noon meal.

This day Martha, from Grace Bible Church, provided a nutritious meal of chicken, beef, potatoes, vegetables and salad. Students get a wide range of foods during ILTI.


Marshall shows a meal provided by the Esther Circle from Kirk of the Hills Church. Volunteers provided 5 meals a week for 3 weeks. 


At noon on June 28th the students enjoyed a delicious lunch prepared by the Orts. Afterward pictures were shown of the students, instructors and activities of the last 3 weeks. Dr. Rebecca Foote thanked everyone for their efforts to make ILTI 2019 a big success. She then gave a gift card to  instructors, staff and interns as a small “thank you.” After viewing pictures of the past three weeks, students had the opportunity to speak about their time in Tulsa. They shared words of gratitude and thanksgiving.


Students pose in front of a banner “Congratulations Grads 2019” and show a cake celebrating this special day. 


Our three brothers from South Sudan shared how much this training meant to them. They will return and equip others with their new knowledge and skills. 


The closing graduation program was held at 1st Presbyterian Church in the chapel at 7 PM.  Rebecca,  Director of ILTI 2019, led us through the program.  Students sang one of their favorite hymns from the summer Institute. Next Richard Gyan-Mante and Silvia Rondon Delgado Hoyle spoke on behalf of all the students about their experiences this summer and what they will do upon return home. Dr. Jim Miller brought a fascinating devotion on Mark 10:46-52. He challenged each of us to consider Jesus’ question, “what do you want me to do for you?” Sid, Rebecca and Emily then presented certificates to each the students.  Afterward those assembled came forward to lay hands on and pray for the individuals at the training.


Dr. Rebecca Foote, far right, looks on as students perform “I Love to Tell the Story of Jesus and His Love.” 


The name of each graduate is read and certificates given. Dr. Sid Rice then invited the congregation to come forward to lay hands on and pray for each graduate. They were commissioned to return home and equip others with newly acquired literacy evangelism skills.  

Although the training is over, the work is just beginning. Over the weekend the students returned to their respective countries. We look forward to hearing how they will use LEI primers, materials and training to impact the places they’ve gone both near and far. We pray for God to richly bless them as they use literacy and ESL “to tell the old, old story of Jesus and His love.”



Tutor Training Workshop in Tulsa

December 10, 2018

9 people attended our latest tutor training workshop in Tulsa. Countries represented: Liberia, S. Africa, Tanzania and the U.S.

During the last week of November we had the opportunity to conduct a 10-hour “Tutor Training Workshop” at the headquarters of Literacy & Evangelism International. The training was held in the classroom of our “Tutor Place Dormitory.”


Larry Buell and I taught the workshop. Here Larry demonstrates one of five steps needed to teach a lesson in the curriculum. 

The impetus for this workshop came from a meeting in October to provide a brief training for 3 people who wanted to be tutors. John & Deedee KayKay (Liberia) and Kristy Lawson expressed the desire to teach with our Bible-content curriculum called Firm Foundations. This 87 lesson curriculum will take a person from very low literacy to a 4-5th grade reading level.


After the instructor models the step, learners practice in pairs taking turns as tutor and student. Following the Teaching Guide, participants quickly learn “what to do and say.”

Our workshop took place on two evenings (Nov. 27 & 29) and one morning (Dec. 1). A total of 9 people came out for the training. This included those mentioned above plus one from Tulsa, three from Miami, OK, one from Tanzania and one from S. Africa. It was a great group of people to train.


After practicing in pairs, volunteers can demonstrate the steps in front of the class. Here Deedee teaches the boxes to David. Although 87, David learned quickly and always had the others laughing with his humor. 

Literacy is the basis of all education. Yet sadly, 32 million adults in America (or 14% of the adult population) are functionally illiterate. The majority of these people (75%) were born in the United States while the remaining (25%) were raised in another country.

The impact of illiteracy is widespread with correlations to income level, poverty, crime, welfare and health. It is estimated that $200 billion is lost each year due to illiteracy. Often this problem is perpetuated from one generation to another.


Darla, Kristy and Mike drove from Miami, OK for each session. They are involved in prison ministry and will use it to teach inmates the basics of reading & writing. 

Yet the solution can be as simple as finding a tutor who can work one-on-one with a non-reader. Most libraries across the country provide help with reading and English. Here at Literacy & Evangelism we use a simple, but effective, Bible-content curriculum. Learning to teach is accomplished in a brief workshop. After training, tutors are matched with non-readers. The average time of a tutoring lesson is an hour and a half. It is a gratifying experience to help another learn to read.


Joel (Tanzania) wanted to experience the LEI training as a foundation for using LEI primers in other languages.  Altogether Bible-content primers are available in over 260 languages/dialects around the world. 

We want to teach people with reading difficulties how to read and write. By using a Bible-content curriculum, we also have the opportunity of helping learners read about the life, ministry, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Many have found help not only with phonics, sequencing and comprehension but also with the greatest story ever told.




Training at International House of Prayer

November 12, 2018



Suzanne Garges a recent graduate of 2018 ILTI invited us to Kansas City to train some of her colleagues at IHOP. 

On Saturday November 3rd Larry Buell, Suzanne Garges and I conducted a 7 1/2 hour tutor training workshop in Kansas City. Larry and I drove up from Tulsa on Nov. 2nd to be ready for the workshop on Saturday. 13 participants from the International House of Prayer (IHOP) met in a seminar room for the training. Suzanne did a great job of promoting the training among her colleagues most of whom are serving with the “Kansas City Evangelists Fellowship.” This is one of fourteen different ministries at IHOP which includes student ministry, orphan justice center, prayer for Israel, healing rooms and college ministry to name a few.

Part of the IHOP facility which includes a large auditorium for prayer & worship, offices, seminar rooms, a bookstore and coffee shop.


IHOP was founded by Mike Bickel and 20 others to cry out to God in worship and prayer 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. IHOP is committed to the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). “Then Jesus came to them and said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I will be with you always, to the very end of the age.” 

IHOP is also committed to the Great Commandment (Matt. 22:35-40). “One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question,’Teacher which is the greatest commandment in the Law?’ Jesus replied: ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it; Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.'”

Staff is referred to as “intercessory missionaries” who reach out from a commitment to prayer and worship. There has been continuous prayer and worship 24/7 since 1999.


Suzanne opening the workshop with Scripture, prayer and greetings.

Our training was held in a seminar room near the bookstore. Suzanne opened the training with words of welcome, introduction to the workshop and prayer. We would use the Firm Foundations, Bible-content English primer, to train our participants. At the completion of the 7-hour course, our brothers and sisters would be able to use the curriculum to teach a person how to read/write.

In our training we focus on Lesson 1 in the primer. 5 Steps are introduced to teach each lesson. After seeing the steps modelled several times, participants practice in pairs take the role of tutor and student. Later several will demonstrate the step in front of the class. The curriculum is very straightforward. A tutor needs two pieces to teach each step: what to do and what to say. Plenty of time for practice is allotted in the training.


Venu practices teaching Step 3 while Maureen takes the part of a student while Larry observes. 


Former missionary Betty practices with her daughter. At age 95 Betty is the oldest person to attend any of our training workshops in the U.S.. We were honored to have her come.

In addition to training how to use Firm Foundations, we also cover many important subjects including: the problems of illiteracy, characteristics of the adult non-reader, history of Literacy & Evangelism, language experience approach, student assessment, Scripture & prayer, starting a church-based literacy ministry and much more.  The main emphasis however, is how to teach Firm Foundations. At the end of the day, everyone was able to teach the 5 steps needed for each lesson. We are grateful for the opportunity to train these dedicated men and women who are called to serve with the International House of Prayer.

Still smiling at the end of the day our participants successfully completed the workshop. They received certificates to signify their accomplishment. Now comes the real work – tutoring a non-reader. 


“More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of,” Alfred Lord Tennyson. We are reminded of the priority of prayer and its power after this visit with missionaries from the International House of Prayer. Their intense focus reminds me again of the preeminence of prayer in the New Testament. Our Lord rose “very early in the morning while it was still dark, departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed” (Mk. 1:35). He gave a model of spending time alone with God each day. If the perfect Son of God needed to spend daily time with the Father, how much more do we. Jesus also commended perseverance in prayer not just praying one time and then feeling we’ve done our duty.  “And he spake a parable unto them unto this end, that men ought always to pray and not to faint.” After this he told the parable of the unjust judge and the poor woman who kept coming back to him until he granted her request.

In the Sermon on the Mount we read of that most perfect prayer which He taught the disciples. It begins with the concerns of God for His name, His kingdom and His will. Then it turns to our earthly concerns for provision, forgiveness and guidance.  I often tell people if you do not know how to pray, use these beautiful words, “Our father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:9-13). I believe it covers every essential concern so well.

The early church followed this example of the priority of prayer. On the Day of Pentecost after Peter’s sermon we read, “they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread and prayers.” (Acts 2:42). Prayer was a daily part of their spiritual growth along with fellowship, Bible study and the Lord’s Supper. When Peter was arrested and imprisoned by Herod we read, “but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” As a result, an angel opened the doors for Peter and set him free from his captors and the prison. The resulting answer to prayer left Peter knocking at the door as the disciples could not believe he was really there. It equally perplexed Herod and the guards resulting in the death of the latter.

In his epistles, Paul often encouraged prayer for himself and the work of the Lord. “Be careful for nothing but in everything by prayer and supplication let your requests be made know unto God” (Phil. 4:6). He also practiced what he preached. In Acts 16: we find he and Silas singing hymns and praying late into the night when they were chained in the Philippian jail (Acts 16:25).

James the brother of the Lord wrote of the importance of confession with fervent prayer, “confess your faults one to another and pray for one another that ye may be healed. The effective fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16).

I close with these familiar words, from II Chron. 7:14,  the promise given to Solomon at the dedication of the Temple.  “If my people which are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways , then will I hear from heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”  May we too be people of prayer for ourselves, our families, our churches, our communities, our nation and the countries of this world.


Picture of the “praying hands” on the campus of Oral Roberts University. This famous drawing by Albrecht Durer points to the priority of prayer.


If you would like to attend a “tutor training workshop” (TTW) to teach literacy or English as a Second Language (ESL), please contact Bob Biederman at 918-585-3826. Additional information and resources can be found at our website https://www.literacyevangelism.org You may be especially interested in our videos which demonstrate the steps needed to teach the Firm Foundations curriculum. You can access those here: https://vimeo.com/lei/channels Simply click on “Firm Foundations” at the bottom of the screen to see the selections.

Member Nation Gathering in Ghana

October 30, 2018

The first “Member Nation” gathering took place on September 12th – 18th at the Church of Pentecost Convention Center in Gomoa Fetteh, Ghana. Over 35 people gathered for this unique event in the Central Region of Ghana. It was an amazing time!



What is a “Member Nation”?The idea began in 2012 after a meeting of Literacy & Evangelism (LEI) Directors in Tulsa, OK. Sid Rice, the Executive Director of LEI, shared the vision for expanding the mission in a strategic way. A Task Force was appointed to consider the best way to grow the work of LEI globally. We looked at the success of Partners and Literacy Ministries (PALM) in Kenya and Alfabetizacao Evangelizacao Internacional (AEI) in Brazil. We concluded that LEI incorporated in a country, with its own board, adopting essential tenets from the mission would be the best way forward. I had the privilege of chairing the Task Force to implement this vision.  The Task Force met regularly, researched options and laid a foundation for this idea. “And the Lord answered me and said,’write the vision and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it.'” Hab. 2:2.


Posing with Dr. James Kigamwa – Managing Director of Africa – in front of a banner welcoming us to the Member Nation Gathering. 

Over the past 5 years we’ve received 7 Member Nations into the LEI family. They are: Ghana, Benin/Togo, Malawi, Nigeria, Canada, Brazil and Kenya. In addition other countries are in various stages of the application process: Democratic Republic of Congo, Guinea Bissau and Angola. We are very thankful for the way God is expanding the outreach of LEI into other countries.

One important component of Member Nations is a meeting of Directors once every 4-5 years. The first gathering took place in September of this year. L&E Ghana did an outstanding job of hosting this first meeting. Both their Board of Directors and Management team worked tirelessly over the past year to handle all the logistics: venue, transportation, lodging, meals, programing & recreation. They even provided shirts and dresses for all the participants! “For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love in that ye have ministered to the saints and do minister” (Heb. 6:10).

The Church of Pentecost Center surpassed all of our hopes for a meeting place. There were auditoriums to seat 5000, 3000, 500 and 200 people on the huge campus. In addition there was lodging to house and feed participants. Our group consisted of  over 35 people and we enjoyed the beautiful “Executive Block.” Each shared room had a sitting area, bedroom and bathroom in the air conditioned building. Delicious meals were also provided in the building. This was ideal for our gathering as we spent most of the day in the same building for our meetings and meals.


The Abraham Tetteh Nartey block was the building used for most of our activities. It was an air conditioned facility with lodging, meeting and dining rooms. 


Some of the 35+ participants who attended the gathering hosted by L&E Ghana. Our hosts handled all of the details even providing colorful Ghanian clothing for each one.


The layout of the Pentecost Convention Center. A number of other buildings were not pictured on this diagram. The large facility also had a bank, store and Bible School on the grounds.

Upon arrival we were welcomed at the airport and transported to the conference center. The following day an opening ceremony marked the official start of our gathering. Distinguished guests from the Presbyterian Church of Ghana, the Bible Society, the Gideons, Compassion, the Bible League and others sat with the Executive Director of LEI – Rev. Dr. Sid Rice, Africa Director – Dr. James Kigamwa and President of L&E Ghana – Rev. Samuel Lawerteh. We were excited to see the broad network of NGO’s who attended the opening ceremony.

Special guests included (left to right): – Rev. Objelua –  the representative of Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Rev. Dr. Jonathan Kuwornu – Adjaottor  faculty at Kwame Nkrumah University, Rev. Seth Agitbey MD, Rev. Dr. Sid Rice Ex. Dir. of LEI and Dr. James Kigamwa Managing Director for Africa.


The two-hour service included several speakers, choirs from two nearby churches, literacy tutors & students and guests. Rev. Dr. Sid Rice brought greetings and gave the background to this historic gathering. He highlighted the importance of autonomy, mastery and purpose as key ingredients for the successful growth of LEI in a country. Each subsequent speaker highlighted the importance of literacy for reading the Bible, growing in faith, educational advancement and personal fulfillment. They commended the Member Nations for equipping the church to use literacy in mother tongue languages for discipleship and evangelism.


The 200 seat auditorium was largely full for the opening ceremony. Two choirs provided joyous music of praise to God. 


Literacy tutors and some of their students were special guests at the ceremony. Faithful volunteers can teach the Bible-content primers after a brief training. These are the ones who patiently teach the non readers. 


Some of those who attended the opening ceremony on Sept. 13th.  Lunch followed in the outdoor “summer huts” where we could visit with the special guests.


Three “tribal queens” were present in their full regalia. They pose with Rev. Carey Jo Johnston (Canada), Rev. Sila Nzongo (DRC), Kenyon Gerbrandt and Rev. Dr. Sid Rice.


In the morning we started with a devotional time before breakfast. Joseph MacCarthy, Carey Jo Johnston and I provided a brief time of inductive Bible study. This was followed by a delicious breakfast in the nearby dining hall.

Next we met for a business session. On Thursday Nat Nunoo moderated a session on “Best Practices and Successes.” Directors from Kenya, Malawi, Nigeria, Guinea Bissau, DR Congo and Benin/Togo spoke about God’s blessing of the work in their respective countries. Later in the day Kenyon Gerbrandt gave an informative session on writing stories for prayer letters.

On Friday James Kigamwa presented a relevant topic entitled, “Funding Literacy Ministries.” In the afternoon each Member Nation shared challenges they faced. Afterward Samuel Lawerteh led in a time of intercessory prayer for each country represented.  Sid Rice presented “Strategic Initiatives” adopted by LEI in January 2018. Participants then met in small groups to discuss, brainstorm and give feedback on key points. Many shared how the process was very helpful and would be used in their own future planning. Our “business” sessions were always interspersed with enthusiastic singing and fervent prayer.


We listened intently to reports from the various Member Nations. There was much to rejoice about as we heard of training workshops, literacy classes, new Bible readers and conversions to Christ.


Dr. Melina Gallo spoke of the progress in online training which now includes: Online Tutoring, Overseas Literacy Teacher Training, Inductive Bible study and English Literacy Teacher training. 


Rev. Samuel Lawerteh is the President of L&E Ghana our hosts for  the week long event. Samuel assembled an outstanding board and a talented management team for the work in Ghana. 

Among the memorable reports was that of Kenya and the faithful service of James, Patrick, Joseph and others in literacy. As a result, several denominations now run their own literacy evangelism programs. We were also moved by the testimony of Titus who spoke in chapel at the ECWA seminary. After chapel Musa, Phanuel and Usman connected with Titus to form a literacy team which became a Member Nation. They showed a picture of 400 students, mostly women, who learned how to read. Many new readers are leading devotions at home, some are attending Bible school and others are going to college!

The climax of this time was when Sila reported on the literacy ministry in DRC. Over the last 30 years, 1,231,199 people learned to read with the LEI primers. Of those 80% professed faith in Christ! In addition more than 400 churches were planted using literacy. There were 8,679 teachers trained who are still active. More than 350,000 Bible content primers printed in DRC. As you can imagine, these statistics amazed everyone. But more important than even these numbers were the lessons Sila shared: don’t limit God, be guided by the Holy Spirit, stay in the perfect will of God. What a privilege to spend time with our brother from DRC!



Sila and I enjoyed a long walk around the Convention Center campus. It was a good time to talk of God’s work and share prayer requests.


Our ladies wore beautiful Ghanaian dresses each day. Mary (right) carried her baby on her back most of the time.  In Africa this is a very common way to transport children.


On Saturday we had the opportunity to take a break and visit Cape Coast Castle. This is one of 40 forts built in West Africa used to hold slaves who were then sent to America, the Caribbean and Brazil. It brought tears to our eyes thinking of the people who were enslaved, suffering and dying in cells awaiting the slave ships transporting them to a life of bondage in the Americas. As they passed through the final door of the Castle, called the “gate of no return,” we could only imagine their intense anguish and fear. It was a sobering reminder of the inhumanity inflicted on men, women and children in Africa from the 17th – 19th centuries.


Touring the Cape Coast Castle where slaves were held en route to the Americas. We spent an hour here learning of this tragic history from our guide.


This plaque commemorates a visit by President Obama  in 2009. Albert and Joao are standing in front a cell which held as many as 300 female slaves.

After a sobering trip to Cape Coast we joined brothers and sisters at Emanuel Presbyterian Church for worship on Sunday. I was given the honor of preaching at the 2-hour English service. Rev. Stephen Anafi is the pastor of this growing congregation. Although they’ve been in existence for only 29 years, yet they’ve started 54 other churches! However, they are only now completing the church building in which nearly 1000 people worship each Sunday. It was a joyful, exuberant time of song, prayer, worship and preaching. We were grateful and humbled to worship with this evangelistic congregation not far from the Pentecost Convention Center.


Sign outside of the Presbyterian Church in Kasoa, Ghana. The building is still under construction. They used their resources to start 54 other churches in the last 3 decades!


Our Member Nation participants dance up to the offering box during the English service. We looked very sharp dressed in our beautiful shirts provided by our hosts.


Standing with Rev. Stephen Anafi after the morning worship service. After the English service ends the Twi service begins. The majority of the congregation attends this second service.

During our business meeting we also elected a “Member Nation Council” to receive new applications and also to plan for another gathering in four years. Rev. Esther Adjetey, the recently retired Executive Director of the Abokobi Presbyterian Women’s Center, challenged us from Psa. 119:105, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path.” She is another distinguished member of L & E Ghana’s Board.  Esther reminded us that the Word of God gives us Light, Life, Wisdom and Joy as she challenged the Council to continue this good work of developing Member Nations in ever widening circles.


The Member Nation Council  consists of : Titus Turaki, myself, Ellen Adjetey-Sowah, Sid Rice and Samuel Lawerteh. We listen to a message by Rev. Esther Adjetey on the Word of God. She is a member of L & E Ghana’s exceptional Board.


Soon it is time to conclude our meeting and begin the long journey home. However the sweet fellowship, times of corporate worship and study, helpful training sessions and celebration of successes will continue to refresh our hearts and minds. It was fitting to hold the first Member Nation Gathering in Ghana – a nation with a rich history and noted for its hospitality. Our special thanks to all those whose prayers and financial gifts, especially the Jenkins family,  made this historic meeting possible.  We are especially grateful for the leadership of Sid Rice who continues the vision of his father to use literacy as a means of evangelism and discipleship. As we leave Ghana we do so reminded of God’s faithfulness in bringing fruit from small seeds sown in prayer and sacrifice. “Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord inasmuch as ye know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (I Cor. 15:57-58).











2018 International Literacy Training Institute

October 8, 2018


This year we had 18 participants from 12 different countries. It was an amazing group of men and women who studied, played, ate and interacted for 5 weeks in Tulsa this summer. 

Our 2018 Literacy Institute ran from June 9th – July 14th. It was an amazing group of men and women who wish to us literacy/ESL in their work. We had pastors, missionaries, Christian workers and other interested people comprise our participants this year. Dr. Rebecca Foote did a great job leading the Task Force in preparing for and implementing this annual training. Preparation begins the year prior as we distribute applications those who are interested. Once completed and returned, each is reviewed by an Acceptance Committee to accept or reject the candidates. When a person is accepted, they begin to apply for a visa to attend the training. This process may take several months : getting a visa appointment, attending the interview, returning to the embassy to pick up the visa. Then the applicants must acquire transportation from their country to Tulsa and back again. It is not easy to attend the International Literacy Training Institute. For that reason we are working on an “online ILTI” which is almost complete. Check the LEI  website for the latest online training opportunities.



Eric from Ghana gives a testimony during the chapel time. Each participant is given the opportunity to share his/her faith journey. 

This year we have over 75 applicants and of those 18 were accepted and able to attend the training. Our trainees came from Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas. It was a wonderful group who bonded quickly with each other and exhibited a passion in studies, chores and play. We are thankful for their enthusiasm which made teaching them a delight. During the 5-weeks a total of 17 instructors equipped the students with Literacy & Evangelism materials and methods. Each participant received a laptop computer which held books, videos, handouts and other data to access during the training and then take back to their country. This will be a useful tool in their literacy ministry.

17 qualified instructors taught during the ILTI. Rev. Carey Jo Johnston (center) taught primer construction. Martina (Kenya) and Angelica (Ghana) pose after an intensive class. 


Each morning our brothers and sisters began the day with an “inductive Bible study.” This simple method asks questions of the text. Each day a different person “facilitates” the study by asking 10 observation, 3 interpretation and 2 application questions. Many have learned this transferable method to help create Bible study materials in languages where there is little or no Christian literature. For two weeks participants focus on the epistle to the Philippians. The three remaining weeks focus on the book of Daniel. This time of Bible study sets the tone for each day. “Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Tim. 2:15).

Inductive Bible study begins each day. This time not only allows reflection on the Scripture but teaches a simple method of Bible study. This is especially useful in places where resources are limited. 


Next classes begin at 8:30 to 11:30 AM. Major components include: English Tutor Training Workshop (TTW), English as a Second Language TTW, Overseas Method & Training Teachers, Intro. to Primer Construction and Leadership. The classes are very practical in nature and designed to equip pastors, missionaries and others how to plan, implement and lead a literacy ministry. All of the Literacy & Evangelism materials have biblical content in them so as people are learning to read, they are also learning of the birth, life, death, resurrection and 2nd coming of Jesus Christ. God promises, “so shall my word be that goes out from my moutjh; it shall not return to me empty but it shall accomplish that which I purpose and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it” (Isa. 55:11).

Each participant receives a laptop computer with all of the books, videos, primers and other materials needed.


In the past students returned home with 35 lbs of books. Now everything needed is on the laptop.


At 11:30 each day we break for chapel. This is a precious time for worship, Scripture, prayer and testimony. At chapel we hear moving stories of conversion, call to ministry and commitment to missions. Often our students will provide accompaniment on piano, guitar and tabla. We often sing out of the hymnbook but also use a special songbook created each year by the students. “Let the word of Christ dwell in your richly teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God” (Col. 3:16).  The ILTI songbook is composed of music from around the world. When the speaker is finished, we lay hands on the individual and pray for God’s anointing and blessing. It sounds like the day of Pentecost when everyone intercedes in their own language.


Aron leads us in worship followed by an amazing story of how the Gospel came to his village from a missionary passing through the area on his way to Bhutan.


The ladies lift up Martina in prayer after her testimony. She will work with her husband Joseph the Director of PALM in Kenya once she retires. 


Lunch follows chapel and is always a welcome time. Volunteers from local churches bring this main meal of the day to our students. It is always delicious and nourishing. This past summer volunteers from 7 churches as well as several individuals brought the meals. “For God is not unjust to forget your labor of love in that you have ministered to the saints and do minister” (Heb. 6:10). Often the meal-providers stay for lunch and enjoy getting to know people other countries such as Korea, Myanmar, India, Sudan, Poland, Ukraine, Ghana, Kenya, Colombia and the U.S. All of these nations were represented at the training. They also enjoy a delicious American meal.


The noon meal is the main meal of the day. It is provided by local individuals and churches. Participants enjoy a variety of dishes. However rice is always a welcome dish.


The multi-purpose facility (Tutor Place) provides lodging, a kitchen/dining room, chapel and classroom. Thanks to our loving Dorm Manager and interns, it is truly a “home away from home.”


Classes continue in the afternoon. Often our courses are taught by teams. I had the privilege of leading our Firm Foundations workshop with assistance from Larry Buell and Dr. Rebecca Foote. The purpose of the workshop is to introduce a Bible-content curriculum for teaching adult literacy in English. The tutor learns 5 simple steps to teach Lesson 1. Those steps are repeated for all the subsequent lessons. Anyone who can read can teach another person (s) to read after a brief workshop. The materials will take a learner to a 4th-5th grade reading level in 87 lessons! Meeting once a week, it would take a new reader a year and a half to complete the entire curriculum.


Demonstrating how to teach a lesson using the “five steps.” Once mastered, these steps are repeated for every subsequent lesson. A consistent lesson format makes this possible. Students learn quickly and easily.


Larry Buell explains the 1 1/2 hour lesson plan used to teach reading. This includes a reading portion, writing segment and witness using Scripture, testimony and prayer.


Udaya and Suzanne practice teaching to master the 5 steps. Later they demonstrate their skills by teaching in front of the class. Literacy can be done one-on-one or with a teachers and a group of learners. .


At the conclusion of the 14- hour workshop, students must pass a practical test before receiving a certificate. Angelica displays her certificate as well as a beautiful Ghanaian outfit.


Following the afternoon session, each participant devotes an hour to “community living” aka “chores.” This helps keep the costs to a minimum as students help with the upkeep of the Dorm, grounds work, cleaning  and preparation of the evening meal.

While working hard during the week, Saturday is often reserved for outings, shopping, tours and enjoyment. On Sunday participants worship in area churches often visiting those represented by the meal providers. The first Sunday all students attended 1st Presbyterian Church in downtown Tulsa. The pastor briefly interviewed each student. The next Sunday we visited Kirk of the Hills Church where the students were recognized. They also had the opportunity to speak in an adult Sunday School class.

En helps clean the dining room after the noon meal. Other may help with a meal or work outside.


The Kirk of the Hills Church faithfully supported LEI for over 50 years. Dr. Wayne Hardy, senior pastor, poses with some students after morning worship. 


Soon the 5 week training draws to a close. We celebrate with a final lunch together followed by a short informal program.  This is a time for both staff and students to share about their experiences at ILTI 2018 and have fun.


Aron gives a final serenade of “thank you” to the staff and instructors of ILTI 2018. There were a lot of smiles and laughs as various ones spoke or entertained. 


In the evening a graduation program was held at Redeemer Covenant Church. Representatives of the class of 2018 reflect on their time at the training.  Dr. Tom Hoffman brought a closing challenge to our class. Two representatives spoke on behalf of the students to reflect their time at the training. Certificates were presented by Dr. Sid Rice (Executive Director) and Dr. Rebecca Foote. The evening is closed by laying hands of the participants and praying for them individually and corporately. After the hour-long program everyone is invited for refreshments and fellowship to conclude the evening.


Udaya shares what she learned and how she will use it upon return to her country. She and Lal also thanked LEI for the opportunity to study and learn about literacy evangelism this summer. 


Dr. Tom Hoffman challenges our participants to look for God to work even in the unexpected detours of life.


Rebecca congratulates the students on this culmination of 5-weeks. She did an outstanding job of preparing for and carrying out ILTI 2018.


Dr. Sid Rice congratulates the students on their successful completion of the training Institute.  He encourages each one to use the tools of literacy and ESL for God’s glory in their respective  nations. .


The audience is invited to come forward for the final activity. A concert of prayer rose up from the auditorium during the closing commissioning. Over the next few days we will say “goodbye” to these dear friends from around the world.

The 5 weeks passes too quickly. However the relationships, memories, materials and training will continue to impact our trainees far into the future. As each returns to his/her respective country, they do so with tools to enable them to teach people to read/write. As the non reader learns this foundational skill, they are also touched by the greatest story ever told – the message of Jesus. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith” (Rom. 1:16-17).