The term “blog” is reminiscent of the intro to Star Trek when we’re reminded of stardates – fictional representations designed to disguise actual time of voyages “where no man has gone before.” I wish that I had begun a “blog” on May 1, 2004, when Literacy Connexus began. Blogging was in its infancy then, too. A diary would have worked. Perhaps in 2024 I’ll look back on today’s “blog” and be glad for the discipline of blogging at least every two weeks for the second ten years of Literacy Connexus.
What’s certain is that this initiative is focused at the intersection of volunteers and churches – an appropriate way to bid farewell to April as Volunteer Month. Literacy Connexus is all about volunteers helping people through church-based literacy ministries. Volunteers make it work and work well. So thank you, volunteers. Volunteers who have taught English as a second language, who have taught adults to read, who have tutored children and youth. This is the tradition, our literacy missions heritage. Thanks, too, volunteers who have built bookcases for children who live in homes without books. Thanks for those who have created teaching materials and written articles and given expression to the many ways that churches can bless their communities through literacy.
What will the next ten years look like? More persons for whom English is not their native language are coming to Texas: refugees, immigrants, and internationals. We have a choice. We can embrace and encourage or turn inward and atrophy. Many adults are outside the workforce because they lack skills and credentials for employment. The GED is more difficult and more in demand (expected, really). How will churches open their doors to persons who are marginalized? We have a choice. And what of the cycle of poverty? Will we link arms with those who see the need for early intervention such as preschool for all? Will we explore creative new approaches in working with schools and other partners who believe in a meaningful future for all children? Again, we have a choice.
We also have a choice when it comes to answering that most crucial of questions: Why are you doing this? Why are you spending your time teaching me? Why did you come all the way out here to bring books and bookcases to these children? Why are you tutoring at that elementary school? Why, indeed? One could make the case for enlightened self-interest. Community service blesses the community. A rising tide lifts all boats and so forth. We can certainly point to the Golden Rule. Consider one of the principles of the helping relationship that was included in a little book published many years ago by Woman’s Missionary Union: The helper combines witness and ministry to communicate the love of Christ. Both/and not either/or. Both.