Web log = Blog

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.

donating books is fun

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.

Stay tuned…

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It’s National Volunteer Month!

I am working through the list of 50 Ways Your Church Can Bless Your Community Through Literacy.  However, for the month of April – National Volunteer Month – I’m taking a side bar.  That said, consider which of the 50 Ways would get very far without volunteers.  Not many, if any. The list is volunteer driven.  For example, I was going to blog today about #22:  Celebrate educational achievement by recognizing graduates. 

50 Ways slanted background with shadow

Suppose I were writing about that.  About the importance of paying attention to those who have achieved the milestone of completing high school, college, or graduate school.  What probably would have happened in some church, somewhere, would be that a lay person – a volunteer if you will – would have e-mailed a church staff member and said something like, “Why don’t we have special recognition for graduates this May?” or “I’d be happy to volunteer to help with the graduate recognition this year.”  Likely, that person would have been turned loose to blow up balloons, make punch, or buy special Bibles for those graduating. 

Imagine the good things that happened at the Red Oak Baptist Church in Longview when several churches joined to congratulate the graduates.  Picture busy volunteers making good memories for grads and their families.  Blessing young people and strengthening bonds in the community.

Local churches, families recognize graduates

Perhaps you’ve already made a note to check with your church leadership about what’s going to happen this May in your church.  It wouldn’t surprise me.  That’s just what you do!  So here at Literacy Connexus, we’re celebrating you this month.  Thanks for volunteering!  You are a blessing to your community.

PS  Good news:  The list of 50 Ways is now available in Spanish.  Thank you, Texas Baptists.   Just e-mail us and we’ll send it your way.

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