The world’s largest LRP

A PRIZE IF YOU can name the largest Least Reached People in the world! You won’t find it in the Joshua Project listing! In fact, to be honest, it isn’t exactly a people group. But here’s our answer: the illiterate peoples of the world.

We praise God for Bible translators. We thank him for the awesome team, starting with Wycliffe Bible Translators Chris and Ada Lyndon, who rendered God’s Word into Koti alongside our discipling movement! Because of the stunning work of WBT and others, 97% of the world’s population have God’s Word in a language they speak (though for many, not yet in their mother tongue).

But nearly 50% cannot read! Like most Koti! So with Ada’s help, we have literacy material and now run many literacy classes. How exciting to see people learn to read – and the only literature in their language is the Word of God!

But must we wait till they can read before we disciple them? When we first grappled with this question in Malaysian jungle villages 30 years ago, we found virtually nothing in the archives of missiology on the subject. Missionaries assumed that people must have the written word before they could become disciples. First translate, then teach literacy, then disciple. And a generation would die waiting!

So we sought the Lord for keys. Here are some of them. We tell and re-tell stories. We use songs, drama, flashcards and pictures, declarations of faith, memory verses, public reading of Scripture, sacraments, festivals, the Jesus film and we emphasise prayer and obedience. For more explanation of these methods, you can write to us at jo@disciplink.org.

We use songs for worship, but we also use them for teaching. Community information is often passed through singing. We once bumped into a group of Koti ladies dressed in their finery, singing and dancing. We asked our companion what they were singing about. “If you leave water uncovered, mosquitoes will breed in it, so keep all water containers covered.” Not exactly poetic, but effective! So we began to use the same method for discipling. For example, we taught the Five Steps of the True Way as a summary of who we are as followers of Jesus and then put the steps to song. Illiterate people can internalise immortal truth.

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