Primer Construction in Macedonia

June 9, 2017

The Cyrillic alphabet was developed by Cyril & Methodius in 9th century. It is used in eastern Europe and parts of Asia.

In Acts 16 we read of Paul’s vision of a man from Macedonia begging him, “Cover over to Macedonia and help us.” And so the Gospel first entered Europe and spread west. LEI was recently invited to the country of Macedonia to help reach the illiterate with the tool of Bible-content literacy.

Georg Ort is our European Director. He and his wife Martha are greatly expanding the work of Literacy & Evangelism in Europe. Through conversation with pastors they learned of literacy needs in the Balkan country of Macedonia.

The country was formed in 1991 from the former Yugoslavia. Through their contacts there, the Orts organized a primer construction workshop in May. I was asked to help them lead the workshop to develop a Bible-content primer in the Macedonian language which uses a Cyrillic alphabet.


A vegetable stand we encountered while traveling on the roads through Macedonia.

I arrived at the Alexander the Great airport in the capital of Skopje.  After staying overnight we traveled by bus to the town of Veles where we were met by Pastor Dragan and his wife Billiana. They took us by van to our workplace another 3 hours away in Stenje.

Our work site was near Lake Prespa with the majestic mountains of Macedonia in the background.

We worked in a beautiful location by Lake Prespa. We could look across the lake and see small villages in Macedonia. Further down we could see a town in Greece. The Galicica mountains loomed behind us separating Macedonia from Albania.


Our team consisted of 6 Macedonian speakers, the Orts, Virigina Newton and myself.


Georg filled in our manuscript while Martha set up lessons on desk top publishing software.


Virginia’s knowledge of Bulgarian (a related language) was very useful in keeping the word control and in general communication.

Our primer team consisted of Dragan & Billiana , Tefic, Igor, Anastasia and Svetlana as the language speakers. In addition Virginia Newton came from Bulgaria to help us with word control. Virginia and her husband Stan lived in that country for 17 years. She teaches English using Passport to the World of English. Her husband is a Bible teacher. Martha Ort worked on desk top publishing while Georg assisted in completing our manuscript. My role is to organize the work/workers and walk the team through the steps to finish a 72 lesson primer in two weeks. An additional challenge was the Cyrillic alphabet. However Virginia and the Orts were able to use that script without too much difficulty.


Each day began with worship and a devotion from the Gospel of John.

Each morning we began with a devotional in the Gospel of John at 8 AM.  I attempted to relate each morning’s study with literacy to motivate and encourage our team.  Primer construction is hard work. The first 32 lessons are all created by gradually introducing letters, using those letters who write words, using those words to make stories. The vocabulary must be carefully controlled otherwise the lesson will be too difficult for the new reader. In Lesson 12 we introduce the name of Jesus and have a short story about Him in every subsequent lessons.

Part of Lesson 1 in the primer. Words are created with the letters in parentheses at the top.

Several lessons are “special lessons” to introduce capital letters, numbers and letter writing. Next comes the health and agriculture lessons which provide important information to the learners. Finally the last 26 lessons are all simplified Bible stories (3 from the OT and 23 from the NT).  Our goal is to help people read/write so they will be able to read the Word of God in their own language. We want Christians to be daily students of God’s Word. We also wish to equip the church with a simple means of reaching out to the illiterate in their communities with the Good News.

After two long weeks working around tables the draft of the “Door to the Light” is finished.

Despite several challenges with word control, team members coming and going and miscommunication the work continued steadily to completion.  The Macedonians speakers worded tirelessly 6 days a week in the mornings, afternoons and some evenings. The other members of the team did everything possible to support their efforts and insure that the end result would be a quality primer in every way.


A late afternoon celebration marked the conclusion of our primer workshop.

At the conclusion of the workshop we celebrated with ice cream and beverage. “Way to the Light” was finished and yet there is more to do. Patty at Literacy & Evangelism will complete the desk top publishing. Carey Jo will review the manuscript and check it. When sufficiently reviewed it will be returned to Macedonia for further checking by member of the primer team. Eventually it will be printed in that country. The next step will be for teachers to be trained in the use of the primer, setting up literacy classes and helping non-readers become readers. Hopefully the cycle will continue over and over again in villages, towns and cities throughout Macedonia. In this way the call to “Come over to Macedonia and help us” continues to be fulfilled. Please pray that “Door to the Light” will help many in this country to learn to read and also come to the Living Word through the Written Word.


The Macedonian flag adopted in 1995 depicts the sun and its rays shining on the country.



The Key is in your hands!

February 22, 2017

Here is a video about the importance of the work Literacy & Evangelism is doing around the globe. We hope you will enjoy it.


Here is a video about the local outreach of Literacy & Evangelism through the Tulsa Literacy Center. You can help by attending an upcoming workshop (April) to become a tutor. Contact us (918-585-3826) for more information!

What happens after an International Literacy Training Institute?

January 16, 2017
Kim studying at ILTI 2015. This 5-week training is held annually in Tulsa with participants coming from around the world.

Kim studying at ILTI 2015. This five-week training is held annually in Tulsa with participants coming from around the world.

Each year in Tulsa we hold an “International Literacy Training Institute” (ILTI).  Participants from around the world attend this annual five-week event. When they return home, many begin to use literacy evangelism as an important part of their ministries.

Kim attended ILTI in 2015. She recently stopped in our office recently to give us an update on her latest trip to Vietnam.  I asked Kim to tell us a little of her story including how she came to attend ILTI and how she came to faith. Here are some highlights of what she told me:

While attending Victory Bible Institute in Tulsa, Kim heard about a mission’s conference at Asbury Methodist Church. She attended the conference and stopped by the table where Patty Hickman, my wife and I were representing Literacy & Evangelism International. She picked up information about our summer training (ILTI) and indicated she needed to come. Kim was looking for tools for ministry in the country of her birth – Vietnam.

Kim and 78 others fled Vietnam by boat.

Kim and 78 others fled Vietnam by boat for the safety of a refugee camp in Thailand.

In 1978 she fled from her home in Vietnam. As the communists were taking over the country, she and 78 others left by boat. They risked everything to make the hazardous journey by sea to refugee camps in Thailand. Although turned back by authorities, pursued at one point by 12 boats of pirates and facing storms on the seas, the group made it safely to Thai waters.  While still a long way from shore, the group jumped overboard as the ship sank. The police arrived an hour later. A translator accompanied the officers. To Kim’s amazement it was her cousin!  The 78 refugees were safely re-located to a nearby camp and comforted by this family member.

At the Song Khla Camp, a number of Americans visited to bring food, clothing and Bibles to the refugees. Though her English was poor, she managed to translate for the pastors who arrived to help. Kim remained in the camp with some 8,000 other people for a year. During this time she did not know God but tried to read the Bibles brought into the camp. Other refugees arrived including some Christians from Vietnam. Kim asked them questions about the Bible but she struggled to read and understand the words. Yet, for the first time in her life, she was hearing about Jesus.

Kim struggled to understand the Bible.

Kim asked questions about the Bible which she struggled to read and understand.

Eventually she was sponsored by Catholic Charities and found a new home in Chicago where she studied English and attended community college. She married and moved to California where other family members lived. During those years, Kim was often called on to voluntarily translate for Vietnamese families who needed help in this new land.  She always tried to take advantage of training and educational opportunities offered in America. She received a Master Jeweler’s diploma and an Associate degree in Administration.

Kim visited Vietnamese churches in the various places where she and her family lived. Unfortunately she still did not understand the Bible or the Gospel message. In 2000 she came to Tulsa where her oldest daughter was attending college. A few years later while attending a worship service at Victory Christian Center, the Lord opened her heart and she understood who Jesus was and why He came. She placed her trust in Him and became a new creature in Christ. “Therefore if anyone is in Christ he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold the new has come. “ (II Cor. 5:17 ESV).

Kim attended Victory Bible Institute and graduated in 2005. She assisted with the founding of an International Victory Bible Institute in Saigon.  The school is still functioning with graduates serving in many places in Vietnam including her hometown.

After encountering LEI at the mission’s conference at Asbury Church, Kim enrolled in the 2015 ILTI. She successfully completed Modules 1 & 2 of our Institute that year. Since then she’s traveled to Vietnam to re-connect with family and friends. At the same time she is utilizing her new tools of ESL and literacy for ministry.

Kim with other 2015 ILTI graduates.

Kim at the 2015 ILTI graduation held at 1st Presbyterian Church in Tulsa.

While back in Vietnam she taught an English class using Passport to the World of English. 26 learners came three times a week to study. The students completed the entire book of 15 lessons in several months. All 26 of them professed faith in Christ before the classes ended!

Passport to the World of English is one of LEI's two curriculua used to teach English.

Passport to the World of English is one of LEI’s two curriculua used to teach English. There are Psalms/Proverbs in Book 1, Old Testament stories in Book 2 and New Testament stories in Book 3.

Kim also taught five elderly men & women using the Bible-content Vietnamese primer. They finished Book 1 and are half way through Book 2. As Kim teaches the Bible story lessons from the primer, she also reads the appropriate Scripture from the Vietnamese Bible. The men and women in her literacy class also trusted in the Lord as their Savior!

The cover of the Bible-content, Vietnamese primer.

The cover of the Bible-content, Vietnamese primer which people are using to learn to read/write Vietnamese. Most of LEI’s primers are available for download on the website.

Through other opportunities Kim shared the Gospel with 16 other people who accepted the Jesus. One of the individuals is 82 years old! By utilizing what she’s learned at LEI, Kim is bearing fruit in the country she fled almost 40 years earlier.

This year, Kim is planning to attend a week of “primer construction” at the 2017 ILTI. She wants to increase her knowledge of LEI primers to make her even more effective in her work in Vietnam. We are looking forward to her return to the ILTI training.

Kim’s come a long way since fleeing her home by boat.  She knows what it’s like to leave everything behind, face dangers and uncertainties.  But she also knows the grace of God and wants people everywhere, especially in Vietnam, to know the Savior she’s come to love and serve. Paul’s words seem appropriate, “Brothers my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved”  (Rom. 10:1).


English Language Ministry at Tulsa Bible Church

November 2, 2016
Tulsa Bible Church hosted and English Language workshop in October.

Tulsa Bible Church hosted an English Language workshop in October.


On October 20th, 21st and 22nd we held a 10-hour “tutor-training workshop” at Tulsa Bible Church. Georg & Martha Ort and I worked together to train 11 people in the use of Passport to the World of English and Using Everyday English. These two curriculua, developed by Literacy & Evangelism International, are invaluable tools in teaching English to speakers of other languages. Both can be taught after learning eight simple steps used for each lesson.

Georg, Martha and I teamed up to lead a workshop in English.

Georg, Martha and I teamed up to lead a workshop on teaching English to speakers of other languages.


Tulsa Bible Church is launching a ministry to reach out to the Spanish-speaking population of the city. According to the Tulsa World approximately 12% of Tulsa is Hispanic. In addition, Hispanic students outnumber other races and ethnicities in Tulsa Public Schools. Most of these students are English Language Learners (ELL).

Merle Ediger from the church is heading up this outreach to the growing Hispanic population. He and Pastor of Shepherding, Phil Martin, were present for the training.  Merle has a lot of cross-cultural experience: he was raised in Ethiopia, served in Kenya (where he met his wife Carol) and also worked in Ecuador.  Merle knows that teaching conversational English is a great way to become acquainted with people, minister to their need and build relationships.


Merle and his wife Carol discuss

Merle and his wife Carol discuss one of the steps – Activities – which teaches reading/writing.


Each of the three sessions in our workshop was introduced with a relevant Scripture followed by prayer. We then demonstrated each of the steps needed to teach a lesson. After modeling, the participants practiced the step with a partner or in a small group. In this manner we taught all eight steps: Theme Picture, Vocabulary, Pronunciation, Clap the Stress,  Conversations, Activity, Things to Think About and Assignment.


We read a Scripture from Deut. 24"17-22 about God's concern for the foreigner, fatherless and widows.

We read a Scripture from Deut. 24:17-22 about God’s concern for the foreigner, fatherless and widows.

Georg uses a powerpoint to introduce the objectives of the workshop.

Georg uses a power point to introduce the objectives of the workshop.

Gestures are used to indicate "please listen" , "please repeat" and "please read."

Gestures are used to indicate “please listen” , “please repeat” and “please read.”


A familiar pattern of “model” then “repeat” then “solo” is used to teach most of the steps. Once mastered, it is relatively easy to work through any of the 15 lessons used in Book 1 of Passport to the World of English.  In addition, these same eight steps can be used to “create a lesson.” If students need help with buying groceries, for example, you can develop your own lesson around that theme. In this way, you can supplement the curriculum with lessons which meet the individual needs of your learners.


Martha assists groups on Saturday morning to create their own lessons.

Martha assists groups on Saturday morning to create their own lessons.

Reviewing the steps to teach a lesson in Passport and also to create a lesson.

Reviewing the steps to teach a lesson in Passport and also to “create your own lesson.”














11 people completed the training and are ready to use LEI materials to teach English.

11 people completed the training and are ready to use LEI materials to teach English.

At the conclusion of the 10-hour workshop, we were delighted to present certificates to our 11 participants. All of them attended each of the three sessions and fully participated in the training. We praise the Lord for this opportunity to equip believers with tools to show the love of Christ through teaching English. May all of our trainees use these new skills to teach and reach the immigrants, refugees, foreigners and sojourners living in Tulsa.

“Assemble the people – men, women and children and the aliens living in your towns – so they can listen and learn to fear the Lord your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.” Deut. 31:12



International Literacy Training Institute 2016- In Memory of Larry Hopson

August 5, 2016
Larry Hopson, our Dorm Manager, went home to be with the Lord on June 1st.

Larry Hopson, our Dorm Manager, went home to be with the Lord on June 1st.

The 2016 International Literacy Training Institute began on June 11th and ran through July 16th. This year we had a fantastic group of individuals from Angola, Chile, Malawi, Myanmar, Ghana and the  U.S. We dedicated our training in memory of our brother Larry Hopson.

Larry entered the presence of the Lord on June 1st just prior to the start of our Institute.  He and Sharon came to Literacy & Evangelism in the spring of 2012. Since then they’ve served as missionaries in their role as managers  of the Tutor Place Dormitory.

The Hopsons came to Literacy & Evangelism in the spring of 2012. They both felt the Lord’s leading to this position so much that Sharon starting packing even before the interview with the Personnel Committee. They arrived just before the start of our 2012 Institute. There was so much activity that Sharon said they did not think they would last 6 months. It began with meeting students at the airport/bus terminal and welcoming them to Tulsa. The Hopsons assisted our guests to settle into their rooms and fit into the routine of classes, chapel, meals and chores. Larry & Sharon were affectionately called “Papa and Mama” by our overseas guests.  Sharon said, “the last four years were the happiest times of our lives.”

Over the past year Larry’s health declined. But he was reassured that God is sovereign and in control. He looked to Jesus for daily strength and direction. One of his favorite Scriptures was II Chron. 20:12. A huge army of Moabites and Ammonites were assembled to wipe out the kingdom of Judah. King Jehoshapat went to the house of the Lord and prayed. “We are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do but our eyes are upon you.” As the people began to worship the Lord, He caused the enemies to fight one another. That day the Jewish people won a great victory without ever lifting a sword.  Larry often quoted this verse to remind us all where our help comes from.

On June 1st Larry’s pilgrimage on this earth ended as he entered into his heavenly home. Our prayers continue for Sharon and the family that God will grant each special comfort and grace. It was a privilege to know Larry and learn lessons he taught us about life, suffering and trust. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” That really was our motto this summer.

This year we had 9 participants from 6 countries.

This year we had 9 participants from 6 countries at ILTI 2016.

This year the Lord provided two wonderful interns to assist Sharon with the managing of our Tutor Place Dormitory. Derrick Houston from Oral Roberts University arrived several weeks before the Institute began. He did a great job of helping us prepare for our nine guests. Derrick did his internship in partial fulfillment for his degree in Missions. Our second intern, Kaitlyn Scully, arrived the day after our Institute began. Kaitlyn attends Grove City College in Pennsylvania where she is majoring in Elementary Education. Kaitlyn jumped right into her role for the summer and went above and beyond the call of duty. We are so thankful for Derrick and Kaitlyn and their crucial role in our 2016 program.



Derrick Houston served an 8-week internship with us this summer. He is finishing a degree in Missions at Oral Roberts Uuniversity.

Kaitlyn Scully served with us for five weeks. She is an Elementary Ed major at Grove City College in PA.

Kaitlyn Scully served with us for five weeks. She is an Elementary Ed major at Grove City College in PA.

Our training this year was divided into two distinct parts. Module 1 was two weeks in length and provided an overview of Literacy & Evangelism materials and methods. The heart of Module 1 consists of an English Language workshop and a basic Literacy workshop. These trainings use Bible-content material to teach English or basic reading/writing. In addition to these two foundation courses, each morning students learned to do “inductive Bible study” using the Epistle to the Philippians. By using observation, interpretation and application questions, each student took a turn facilitating a study. There were a number of other classes to round out the Module including: Cross Cultural Communication, Literacy Overview, Missions, History of Literacy & Evangelism, Literacy Ministry in DRC and Phonics.


Each morning the day begins using Inductive Bible study with Ron Fick.

Each morning the day begins with Inductive Bible study facilitated by  Ron Fick.


Marti Lane returned from N. Carolina to teach ESL.

Marti Lane returned from N. Carolina to teach ESL using Passport to the World of English which she authored.


Sila from DR Congo tells of his goal of 1 million new readers in next 3 years.

Sila Ndunda from DR Congo tells of his goal of 1 million new readers in next 3 years. He’s worked in literacy for over 30 years. What an amazing  story he told about the work in DRC.



Pat Lindsay and Larry Buell assisted me in our Tutor Training Workshop using Firm Foundations.

Pat Lindsay and Larry Buell assisted me in our Tutor Training Workshop using Firm Foundations. Pat is preparing to return to Benin in September.


Participants receive certificates for successfully completing the workshops.

Participants receive certificates for successfully completing the workshops in both ESL and literacy. 


Module 2 was three weeks in length and provided intensive training in overseas literacy ministry. The heart of this training is the “Overseas Method/Teacher Training Workshop” taught by Dr. James Kigamwa and Rev. Samuel Lawerteh. The week instructed participants in how to use LEI primers in various languages around the world. Our students worked in Portuguese, Sena, Ga, Spanish and Burmese. The students not only learn how to teach the primer in these languages, but also how to train teachers to use the materials.

Dr. James Kigamwa leads week 3 which is the heart of LEI's training.

Dr. James Kigamwa leads week 3 which is the foundation of our Literacy Institute. Students learn how to use Bible content primers in various languages.


Rev. Samuel Lawerteh from Ghana helps teach Overseas Method.

Rev. Samuel Lawerteh from Ghana helps teach Overseas Method with James Kigamwa. He is the President of LEI Ghana.

Following the Overseas Method/TTW is a week on “Leadership.” Greg Bennett and Rev. Sid Rice taught successful principles  for managing and leading a literacy program. This includes  personality inventory, working in teams, setting goals and developing an action plan. The final week brought Rev. Carey Jo Johnston from Canada back to Tulsa for “Primer Construction” This overview provides our participants with foundational knowledge on the development of Bible-content primers in different languages.

Greg Bennett teaches Leadership during the 4th week of ILTI.

Greg Bennett prepares for a session on leadership during the 4th week of the summer Institute. Greg’s experience in H.R. and gift for teaching are a great asset to our training.


Rev. Sid Rice, Executive Director of LEI, team teaches with Greg.

Sid Rice, Executive Director of LEI, draws on 15 years in the corporate world to team teach with Greg. He also taught the History of LEI. 


Carey Jo Johnston returns from Canada to teach primer construction.

Rev. Carey Jo Johnston returns from Canada to teach primer construction. She and Dr. Bob Rice co-authored the book we use to develop primers.


In addition to the class time, our participants led chapel services, enjoyed home-cooked meals, visited sites in Tulsa and learned from one another in a community setting. It was a unique time of learning, sharing and fun. Below are some pictures which captured a few of those special moments.


A quick visit to the campus of O.R.U. during our tour of Tulsa

A quick visit to the campus of O.R.U. after the first week of the Institute. Everyone wanted a picture in front of the “Praying Hands.” 


Eating pizza at Cici's after a tour of Tulsa.

Larry Buell (left) gave a fact-filled tour of Tulsa. The day concluded with pizza at Cici’s. For many eating pizza was a new and enjoyable experience. 


A visit to Kirk of the Hills where students shared in a Sunday School class.

A visit to Kirk of the Hills where students shared in the 8:15 AM Sunday School class. In addition many of the Small Groups served lunch to our guests. The church also provided partial scholarships from the Coffee Fund.


Times of worship and testimony are a part of each day. Here Lal from Myanmar tells his story.

Times of worship and testimony are a part of chapel each day.  Lal Biak from Myanmar tells his story after leading in a hymn and reading Scripture.


Everyone enjoyed an outing to the Graham home in Porter, OK.

Everyone enjoyed an outing to the Graham home in Porter, OK. It was a time to visit with the family and relax for a few hours in a beautiful rural setting.



Volunteers from local churches provided the main meal of the day for 5 weeks. After introductions we thanked God for this provision.

Volunteers from local churches provided the main meal of the day for 5 weeks. After introductions we joined hands and thanked God for this provision.


Celebrating Christa Rice's 60th birthday at the Belvedere Mansion in Claremore.

A special evening at the Belvidere Mansion in Claremore celebrated  Christa Rice’s 60th birthday. The students were treated to a special dinner, celebration and tour of the Mansion. 


The five week training ended too quickly. On July 15th we held a graduation meal with a catered luncheon at 1st Presbyterian Church. Dr. Jim Miller brought words of welcome. After the delicious meal I thanked Sid Rice, our ILTI Task Force, our instructors and the staff of LEI all of whom worked in a united effort to make ILTI 2016 possible. Students took the opportunity to tell how meaningful the training was and how useful it will be when they return home. Kenyon Gerbrandt put together a memorable powerpoint which captured ILTI 2016 in a cascade of changing photos.

Dr. Jim Miller brings words of welcome at our luncheon.

Dr. Jim Miller brings words of welcome at our luncheon. He is also serving on the Board of LEI. 


The catered luncheon gave us an opportunity to express thanks to the many who made ILTI 2016 possible.

The graduation luncheon gave us an opportunity to express thanks to the many who made ILTI 2016 possible.


In the evening we held a graduation program at Kirk of the Hills Church. Dr. Dan Bair, campus pastor, spoke earlier in the day to prepare the students for their departure home with insights on “cultural re-entry.” He told us that the church had no electricity due to the storm the night before. However by 7 PM the power was restored and we were able to hold the graduation program.  Dr. Gregory Bangura from Sierre Leone gave a challenging message. After distributing certificates to each student, the congregation was asked to come forward to pray for our brothers and sisters. A reception followed to congratulate each participant on their “successful completion” of Modules 1 & 2.


Cliff Bush spoke of how he will use his training among the Samburu tribe in Kenya.

Cliff Bush, one of the participants, spoke of how he will use his training among the Samburu tribe in Kenya. He believes it will be a key in reaching this group with the Gospel. 


Sid and I present certificates to each of our students.

Sid and I present certificates to each of our students who “successfully completed” Modules 1 & 2 of our 5-week training. 



At the end of the evening we gather to pray for our ILTI graduates and ask the Lord’s blessing upon their lives and ministries. The next day several will begin their journey  home. 


We will not soon forget our brothers and sisters who attended ILTI 2016. We pray that the Lord will bless their lives and ministries as they  return to their countries with tools for evangelism and discipleship. They will also remember the words of Larry Hopson who continually looked to the Lord for guidance and protection. Our students will do the same. “We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.” We will continue to pray for Sharon as she continues to Manage the Tutor Place Dormitory and prepares for other guests who will live there until ILTI 2017 and we welcome another group of students.



We will continue to pray for Sharon Hopson and the family as we remember Larry. We dedicate this ILTI to honor his memory.

We will continue to pray for Sharon Hopson and the family as we remember Larry. We dedicate this ILTI 2016 to honor his memory.



U.S. Adult Literacy Statistics from ProLiteracy

May 18, 2016

thProLiteracy is the largest literacy organization in the United States. It is the result of a merger of Laubach Literacy and Literacy Volunteers of America in 2002. It is doing a tremendous work in helping people learn to read and write across the country.

Recently this organization published a fact sheet about literacy in America. The information will be startling to some who are not involved in literacy or education. For example, more than 36 million adults in the U.S. are unable to read, write or do math above a 3rd grade level. For these people newspapers, books, magazines and  are out of reach. This despite the fact that many publications claim this nation is 97-99% literate! Dr. Robert Rice, the founder of Literacy & Evangelism, called literacy a blindspot in missions. It seems few are aware of the extent of illiteracy in our country as well.

The fact sheet also cites the National Institute for Literacy which states that nearly 43% of adults with the lowest literacy levels live in poverty. This is perhaps the greatest threat to education. Poverty impacts a child’s development and performance in school. When students fall behind in reading and writing, they often drop out of school. The doors to greater opportunity and achieving full potential are also closed. Illiteracy imprisons millions in a cycle of poverty.

Also there is a correlation between illiteracy and  crime. 85% of  juveniles and 70% of the prison population cannot read above a 4th grade level. Neighborhoods with lower literacy levels also have higher crime levels. Those incarcerated who do not participate in education programs in prison are unable to find a job often leading to a return to crime and prison. Some studies indicate that 66% of students who cannot read well by the 4th grade will end up in the criminal justice system at some point.

Illiteracy is a great problem.  You can read more about literacy in the U.S. by clicking below and reading this interesting fact sheet:


We at Literacy & Evangelism (LEI) believe one of the greatest blessings of reading is the ability to read the 66 books of the Bible. God given us this revelation in the Old and New Testaments which He desires all people to read, understand and believe. Jesus taught that we should not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4). By reading, meditating upon and obeying the teaching of God’s Word, we find true life, an abundant life which only Christ can give (John 10:10).  Are you using the gift of reading to spend time in God’s Word each day? It is the best way to use this wonderful gift.

Tonia displays a Bible she is reading with help from her LEI tutor.

Tonia displays a Bible she is reading with help from her LEI tutor.

Tribute to Dr. Phil

April 27, 2016
Dr. Phil Truesdale - missionary, pastor, educator, colleague and beloved friend.

Phil Truesdale – missionary, pastor, educator, colleague and beloved friend.

I remember meeting Dr. Phil Truesdale shortly after he retired as Mission’s Pastor of Colonial Presbyterian Church in Kansas City. He was exploring options for “finishing strong” and visited Literacy & Evangelism to join Sid Rice and me for lunch. As a pastor, a missionary, an educator, Phil wanted to spend the rest of his life doing what he loved best – ministry and missions. He liked what he saw and joined Literacy & Evangelism in 2011. For the next five years he impacted lives for the kingdom of God  in his vital role here as Director of Pastoral Care.


Phil spent 6 years serving with Literacy & Evangelism. His presence enriched everyone he met.

Phil spent 5 years serving with Literacy & Evangelism. His presence enriched everyone he met.

What a great addition he made to the LEI family with his sense of humor, wisdom, cross cultural experience, optimism and counsel. Through these and other ways he blessed the missionaries, staff and trainees he encountered at this mission. Inevitably Phil would begin an encounter with a joke to bring a smile and say “relax, I’m just a one beggar sharing with another beggar where to find bread.”

Phil was a humble man who made one feel at home the first time you met him.  He attended the 2011 International Literacy Institute in Tulsa, OK. Though he could teach all of us who were instructors that year, he went through our Institute with grace and collegiality. His gracious words encouraged all the teachers that year when he said, “one of the best adult education experiences I’ve ever had. Very professional… This was a great experience.”


Alexis and Phil listen to a lecture during ILTI 2011.

Alexis (Congo) and Phil listen to a lecture during ILTI 2011. Phil established a special rapport with the many  internationals who attended.



Learning to teach the Spanish primer – Nuevos Caminos – Phil mastered 5 steps used in every lesson. He later taught high school kids in Guatemala to teach their parents and grandparents how to read.



He was a friend to everyone he met. Phil wanted to help each person to grow in their relationship with Christ.


Phil certificate

Phil completed training at the 5-week ILTI in 2011.

After joining LEI he wanted to train folks from Colonial Presbyterian Church to use the Bible-content, ESL curriculum called Passport to the World of English. He saw an opportunity for people from the church to reach-out to international students, immigrants, refugees and others who needed help speaking English. Phil was always looking for opportunities to use what he learned to help others.

Phil was a great educator and very much at home in a classroom.

Phil was a great educator and very much at home in a classroom.


Our first ESL workshop at Colonial Church trained 15 people.

Our first ESL workshop at Colonial Church (Quivira campus)  in Kansas City trained 15 people.


Phil introducing the instructors at the Quivira campus of Colonial Church.

Phil introducing the second ESL workshop at the Wornall campus of Colonial Church.


Another 8 people trained at the Wornall campus of Colonial Church.

8 people were trained at this campus in the fall of 2013.


When missionary Pat Lindsay returned from Benin, West Africa, she attended our 2012 International Literacy Training Institute. Phil helped me teach a workshop with our Bible-content Firm Foundations materials. Upon completion of the Institute, Pat returned to Kansas City. She wanted to put into practice what she learned.

Pat began to teach her 82-year old uncle, Frederick, how to read using Firm Foundations. After several years, Frederick finished the curriculum and the family celebrated in a big way.  Phil and Marjorie attended the “graduation” at a local restaurant. It was a very special time for everyone. Phil & Marjorie’s presence was a special encouragement as they served as prayer partners, encouragers and mentors to Pat during her support raising efforts to continue to serve in Africa.


Phil & Marjorie celebrate Uncle Frederick's graduation at

Phil & Marjorie Truesdale help celebrate Uncle Frederick’s graduation at a Kansas City restaurant.


Family & friends gather to celebrate Uncle Frederick's ability to read .

Pat tutored her uncle and helped him learn how to read despite dementia.

In addition to teaching at our summer ILTI from 2012 to 2015, Phil would return to Tulsa for Director’s meetings and periodic “Tutor Training Workshops.”  Phil brought a unique contribution to meetings and trainings at Literacy & Evangelism. He would draw on his wealth of experience as a missionary, pastor, educator, husband, father & grandfather . When he stood up to speak he would cite a statistic from one of the many books he was reading or more commonly share a joke to make even the most serious smile. You were never bored when Phil began to speak.


Phil teaching at a literacy tutor training workshop in Nov. 2014.

Phil teaching at a workshop in Nov. 2014  in our  Tutor Place classroom.


Phil congratulates Oscar (82) upon completing the literacy tutor training workshop (TTW).

Phil and other trainees congratulates Oscar (82) upon completing the 10- hour literacy tutor training workshop (TTW).

The last International Literacy Training Institute he attended was in the summer of 2015. Although Phil needed to travel with a special machine and many tanks of oxygen, he made the 4 1/2 hour journey from Kansas City. His son Tim accompanied Phil on what would be his last visit to the Literacy & Evangelism headquarters in Tulsa. Although having a lot of physical difficulty, he wanted to address the students in chapel and give them a copy of the mission factbook Operation World.

Phil spoke in chapel on the parable of the soils (Mark 4:1-20) and talked about the various responses to the Gospel  message. He brought 4 trays to represent the different soils in this parable:            1) packed down, impenetrable ground – people who hear the Gospel but Satan snatches the seed; 2) rocky soil – people hear but have no root and quickly die out; 3) thorny soil – people hear but are consumed by things of this world and 4) good soil – where the message takes root and produces a bountiful harvest. Phil was certainly a great example of that last kind of soil. He wanted to bear fruit for the kingdom and make his life count every day.


Tethered to an oxygen tank, Phil nonetheless came to Tulsa to speak to our students.

Tethered to an oxygen tank, Phil nonetheless came to Tulsa to speak to our students.


Students of ILTI 2015 whom Phil addressed last summer.

Students of ILTI 2015 whom Phil addressed last summer.

When diagnosed with the disease which would eventually take his life, he lost 100 lbs to be eligible for a lung transplant. He worked hard through diet and exercise and achieved his goal of losing that weight. Although the transplant did not occur, Phil nevertheless was confident in the Lord. More than once he said to us, “Any way I win. God can heal me from this disease, I can get a lung transplant or I get to go home to heaven to be with Jesus. Any way I’m a winner!!!”

Thanks Phil for sharing your life and love of the Lord with us here at Literacy & Evangelism International. You were and are an inspiration to all of us. We are grateful for the privilege of serving with you. You’ve taught us a lot about missons, about ministry about living and dying.  You are a great example for us all. Well done, you’ve fought and finished your course.

“For I am already being poured out as a drink offering and the time for my departure has come. I have fought the good fight. I have finished the race. I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness which the Lord the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” II Tim. 3:6-8





“Reading changed my life!” – Renard

April 11, 2016
The Tulsa Literacy Center is the local outreach of Literacy & Evangelism International

The Tulsa Literacy Center is the local outreach of Literacy & Evangelism International

When someone comes to the Tulsa Literacy Center  requesting help, we know that individual is taking a courageous step. For most people with reading difficulties, embarrassment and shame are giant obstacles which must be overcome before asking  for help. The majority of people who are functionally illiterate, continue to hide the problem. Some carry a newspaper on the bus, others bring a Bible to church, others turn to a spouse, trusted friend or co-worker to decipher the written word. When Renard walked through the doors of our office to be assessed, we knew he had overcome perhaps the biggest obstacle in learning to read.


Oscar is now tutoring Renard each week at the Tulsa Literacy Center.

Oscar is now tutoring Renard each week at the Tulsa Literacy Center.

Born and raised in Tulsa, Renard attended school up to the 11th grade. When he dropped out he began work in a hotel at the airport. He liked his jobs in the kitchen and later the laundry. After nearly a decade he moved to another hotel where he worked in the maintenance department.  5 years later he returned to the hotel where he initially worked.  Unfortunately an injury forced him to go on disability.

Driving in west Tulsa one day, Renard saw our office building. He came in to ask what we did here and learned about the Tulsa Literacy Center. He said, “I’m glad I did. It meant big changes for me.”

Renard was tutored by Pastor Dick Geiger. Over the next 3 years his tutor patiently helped him to move from the Pre-Reader through Books 1,2 & 3. After completing the Firm Foundations series, Dick helped Renard to read through the New Testament in a simplified translation.


Rev. Dick Geiger worked regularly with Renard for 3 years.

Rev. Dick Geiger worked regularly with Renard for 3 years.

Listen to what Dick said about his experience tutoring:

“I got started tutoring when Bob asked me to take a student for a few months while his tutor, a medical doctor, was taking exams. That was over two years ago and I’m still tutoring… I have a good relationship with my student. We meet as often as he wants. We pray during every lesson. In addition to the literacy curriculum, we’ve gone through the New Testament twice.  It is good to see how much he’s developed in reading.”

Renard recently returned to the Literacy Center for additional help.   Oscar, in his eighties, attended our tutor training workshop in November 2014. He began tutoring George who lived in the same apartment complex. After working with him for about a year, the family moved and had to stop the reading lessons. Having a learner temporarily stop the reading lesson is not uncommon. We always hope it is a “stop out” instead of a “drop out.”


Oscar and other participants enjoy a break during the 10 hour training workshop.

Oscar and other participants enjoy a break during the 10 -hour “tutor training workshop”.


Oscar attended a 10 hour tutor training workshop at LEI in preparation for tutoring.

Participants received a certificate upon completion of the training. Shortly thereafter tutors are matched with adult non-readers.

Oscar then began to work with Renard. They meet weekly at the Tulsa Literacy Center. With Oscar’s help, Renard is continuing to make progress reading the Bible. He recently said,

“This opened doors for me. I’m a lot better. There are lots of things I can do now that I could not before. I can fill out an application, read correspondence, the newspaper and street signs. I can read the Bible pretty good. Before I could not read any of the Bible. Reading changed my life. It set me on a good path.”

Once Renard had a dream that the Lord was speaking to him to write out a chapter of the Bible each day. “I’ve started in Matthew,”Renard said,” and every morning & evening I copy one chapter.”

What would Renard advise others who cannot read/write very well:

“A lawyer told me that not being able to read is like living in Russia and not being able to speak Russian. A friend told me not to be embarrassed. You only need to be embarrassed if you need help and don’t try to get it!”

He also added:

“I would like to help others as I have been helped. I really want to get close to God and focus on Him each day.”

Perhaps soon Renard will attend a 10-hour tutor training workshop and begin to tutor someone as Pastor Dick and Oscar did with him. If you’d like more information on tutoring, please contact the Tulsa Literacy Center at 918-585-3826.








Expect the Unexpected – the birth of Cursive Logic

December 16, 2015
Linda presents Joshua with one of the first copies of Cursive Logic.

Linda presents Joshua with one of the first copies of CursiveLogic at the Ministry Center where she tutored him.

“Expect the unexpected” is one of the points we make in training tutors in our 10- hour “Tutor Training Workshops.” Linda Shrewsbury exemplifies this sentence as her tutoring experience led to a whole new career. Linda’s story begins in 2010 after a short term mission trip to Tanzania. She taught English in east Africa and was excited to learn of volunteer opportunities with Literacy & Evangelism right here in Tulsa.  Linda attended a training with six others in the spring of that year. Shortly after, I asked Linda to consider tutoring a 23- year- old with learning disabilities. Joshua finished high school but was unable to read. His uncle brought Josh to Literacy & Evangelism to be assessed and to find a tutor for him. Linda took the challenge although it was a sacrifice for her. She was out of work and needed a paying job, nevertheless she volunteered to help Josh.


Tutors trained at the workshop in April 2010.

Linda and other tutors trained at the literacy workshop in April 2010.

Linda began tutoring Josh at the “Ministry Center” in west Tulsa. She met with him twice a week. At first, Josh refused to look Linda in the eye. When he communicated he mumbled so badly it was difficult to understand what he was saying. An accident to the head at age 8 affected Josh both physically and emotionally. His tutor reminded Josh that he is made in God’s image. She helped him understand how much he was loved by the Father in heaven. Linda faithfully worked with Josh for about a year and a half. His uncle Herbert exclaimed, “Josh woke up.”   Josh began to look and sound different. He was speaking so others could hear and understand what he said.

Josh receives a certificate for completing Firm Foundations. His uncle Herbert and tutor congratulate him.

Josh receives a certificate for completing Firm Foundations. His uncle Herbert and tutor congratulate him.












Linda used the Firm Foundations curriculum to help Josh with reading. This Bible-content material introduces the name of Jesus in Lesson 5. There is a brief story about Jesus in every subsequent lesson. The third book is composed of 26 simplified passages of Scripture – 3 from the Old Testament and 23 from the New Testament. As students are learning to read, they are also hearing the best news in the world. In addition to Firm Foundations, Linda utilized additional books from her home schooling experience.  She also gave Josh large- print sheets to make reading easier.  His tutor assigned him projects: make a list of things you like to eat, another of games you like to play, another of songs etc.

The Firm Foundation is a Bible-content reading curriculum developed by LEI.

The Firm Foundation is a Bible-content reading curriculum developed by LEI to teach reading/writing.


One day Josh asked Linda, “Could you teach me cursive? I’d like to be able to sign my name.”  Linda knew it normally takes weeks of introducing individual letters of the alphabet, having students practice writing the letters, learning to string the letters together etc.   She created a large poster with the cursive alphabet and put it on her kitchen wall. She looked at the letters and prayed over them trying to see a way to teach Josh. Over the weekend  she noticed a pattern. The 26 letters of the alphabet can be formed with four distinct strokes. Linda experimented with the strokes and thought this might be a helpful insight to share with  Josh. The next time they met she showed him her discovery using oval, loop, swing and mound strokes. 45 minutes later, Josh was writing the entire lower case alphabet. With another 15 minutes of practice, he was writing his name!


Linda taught Josh to write the lower case alphabet in cursive in 45 minutes!

Linda taught Josh to write the lower case alphabet in cursive in 45 minutes. A short time later he could write his name.


From this humble beginning CursiveLogic was born. Later Linda tutored another student who could not read well or write in cursive. The same thing happened. When she taught him in a short period of time he could write the entire alphabet. Linda filed a patent in 2013 and her daughter encouraged her to write a textbook to go along with her discoveries.  Next she produced a video to tell the CursiveLogic story. You can view the video here:

In January 2015 a “Kickstarter” campaign raised funds to print 5,000 copies of the book. Half of those were sold during this past year. Next came opportunities to tell her story at schools and conferences. In June Linda spoke at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. about cursive writing and its importance. She also lectured at our 2015 International Literacy Training Institute (ILTI) in Tulsa. Linda told of her experience as a tutor and the unexpected birth of CursiveLogic. The participants from 6 countries around the globe were captivated with her story.

Linda at ILTI 2015 poses with Comfort and Elizabeth from Nigeria.

Linda spoke our International Literacy Training Institute this summer. She poses with Comfort and Elizabeth from Nigeria.


This January she will be featured at the National Scouting Museum in Texas for National Handwriting Day. The 23rd  of that month is the birthday of John Hancock, the first signer of the Declaration of Independence.  This day highlights the importance of penmanship and handwriting. Next month she will be part of the Boy Scouts of America’s “Nation Tour” to Washington in February.

Linda is on a mission to raise awareness of cursive and its foundation for learning. In the U.S. cursive is no longer taught in the public schools. It is however taught in private schools around the country. Cursive is also taught across Europe.There are many people, like Linda, who believe this skill is crucial to memory, language skills and critical thinking. Cursive provides many benefits to learners including increased comprehension and recall.  Studies of the brain indicate that handwriting involves higher brain function than typing. For these reasons Linda wants to see a renewed emphasis on handwriting.

Meanwhile Joshua continues to develop in his reading abilities. His tutor, John, is working with him each week on Bible reading.  So far Josh’s read  Joshua, Esther, Ruth and Mark. He does very well and only needs occasional help from his tutor.

John works with Josh to increase fluency and comprehension by reading the Bible.

John works with Josh to increase fluency and comprehension by reading the Bible.


Josh is now reading through books of the Bible.

Joshua is currently reading through the Gospel of Mark.


“Schools that drop teaching of cursive are committing academic malpractice,” so writes Dr. William Klemm. This educator is the Senior Professor of Neuroscience at Texas A & M. He called CursiveLogic, “an intelligent new way to teach cursive handwriting.”  He goes on to say, “Linda Shrewsbury introduced me to her new program for teaching cursive, which I found to be intelligently designed and the best way I know of to teach children how to write cursive well. Based on first learning four simple pen strokes, which children of appropriate age should be able to master easily, she then shows learners how to implement these strokes for each letter of the alphabet. What could be simpler?”

We are excited about CursiveLogic and wish Linda God’s richest blessing as she promotes, teaches and equips people to learn handwriting based on the discoveries she made while tutoring Josh. She demonstrates the truth of “expect the unexpected.”

“Remember dear brothers and sisters that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes or powerful or wealthy when God called you. Instead God chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose things that are powerless to shame those who are powerful.” I Cor. 1:26-27







From learning the ABC’s to reading the Bible

September 22, 2015

“Open mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law.” Psa. 119:18

Marlene is excited to be able to read the Bible.

Marlene is excited to be able to read the Bible for herself. She can participate in Sunday School and follow the Scripture reading in church. 

Marlene was born in Tulsa and raised with a brother and sister. Her father worked long hours as a cab driver. Her mother tended the home.After a brief stint at school, her mother withdrew her as she was being bullied. Later in Enid, OK, she attended school again until the age of 15. Her grandmother needed her help and for a second time she was removed from school.

As an adult Marlene lived at home with her mother. She also worked cleaning mobile homes. When she was 36, she married and had a daughter. Unfortunately eight years later she found herself divorced. She then married Marvin and had two sons. Life was hard raising the children because Marlene could not read/write very well. Marvin worked various odd jobs until he was disabled by a stroke.

Lillian Drake taught Marlene for several years.

Lillian Drake taught Marlene the basics of reading.

In 1991 Marlene met Lillian Drake, a teacher and reading specialist. Lillian knew about the handicap of illiteracy. She herself did not learn to read well until she was in college. Lillian devoted her life to helping people with disabilities. Through her patient instruction, Lillian helped her master the 26 letters of the alphabet. Slowly, Marlene began to learn small words. When Lillian’s health began to fail, she asked Literacy & Evangelism to continue the reading lessons.

Marlene began in Book 1 of Firm Foundations and eventually worked through all three books in the curriculum. She had many dedicated tutors including: Jean Baseley, Nancy Murphy, Martha Ort and several Oral Roberts University interns. It was not unusual for Marlene to spend 4 hours a week or more in tutoring sessions. After completing the 80 lesson Firm Foundation’s series, she began a computerized program called “Project Light.”

Jean Baseley taught Marlene and introduced her to the computer.

Jean Baseley tutored Marlene and introduced her to the computer.

Martha Ort continued to help Marlene with comprehension and spelling.

Martha Ort continued to assist  Marlene with comprehension and spelling.

Marlene is recognized at Christ Church by the pastor and her tutors.

Marlene is recognized at Christ Church by Bishop Stone and  tutors (Martha & Nancy).

In 2011 Marlene went to the Literacy Office of the Tulsa County Library for continuing assistance. Her faithful tutors help Marlene to improve in reading. She continues to call Literacy & Evangelism to tell of the latest book she’s read or another milestone in her reading level. Her word recognition level continues to rise and is now at 3.7

Tulsa Literacy Coordinator - Larry Buell - present Marlene with a certificate .

Tulsa Literacy Coordinator – Larry Buell – presents Marlene with a certificate on June 14th.

Marlene is able to read her Bible now and she takes great pleasure in going to Sunday School and church. One day, she would like to get a GED. Marlene said,

    “If my mother were alive, she would be so proud of me. I feel fantastic. I’ve learned a lot and I’m still not finished.  The Tulsa Literacy Center helped me a lot.”