Nevertheless, most bibleless peoples are cut off. For example, they tend to be among the poorest of the poor. Their children struggle in school. They have more health problems and shorter life spans. Because they speak languages which are mostly unwritten, they are cut off from information, including the revelation in the Bible. They have no way to find out about something, or to verify what they hear. No courses are offered in the languages they speak and there may be no TV or radio programs.
I vividly remember interviewing pastors and learners in a literacy program for churches in Burkina Faso. When I asked one rural pastor why he enrolled his church in the program, he excitedly said that the members of his congregation who could not read were limited to attending and listening, while those who learned to read could help with children’s Sunday School or visit the sick and read the Bible to them. In other words, those who have no Bible or who can’t read it are cut of from even the most basic forms of lay ministry.
Ladies enrolled in the literacy classes excitedly reported that they could now read the Bible to their children. They were visibly thrilled.
A Ghanaian researcher reports that Christians who have the Bible in their language are much more likely to witness to their neighbors.
So we see that bibleless Christians, and those with a Bible who can’t read, are cut off from empowerment, including empowerment to carry out even the simplest forms of Christian ministry even when that is their heart’s desire.