Learning to Read (the Bible)

June 13, 2022


Week 6 of the Alpha Youth Series focuses on the Bible and why we, as Christians, read it. One of the discussion questions asks, “Do you read the Bible?”. As our leaders discussed this with the youth at one of our local juvenile detention centers, Deshaun raised his hand and said, “I would read it, if I could read.” His response floored the leaders. They were not only heartbroken that this young man had never learned to read, they were amazed that this desire to read was so strong that he was willing to be vulnerable in front of a group of his peers.

Sadly, Deshaun is not alone in his situation. Many of the young men and woman we meet through our Juvenile Justice Ministry are functionally illiterate or several reading levels below where they should be for their age. According to published literacy statistics, 2/3 of students who cannot read proficiently by the end of 4th grade will end up in jail or on welfare.

A detention center administrator recently shared that one of her biggest needs is for more books. During the many months when COVID-19 precautions limited programs, the youth read books. In fact, many of the books became worn out and began to fall apart. To help address this issue, a local school collected hundreds of books to donate to area detention centers to restock their libraries.

Our staff and volunteers never imagined that we would help teach our teens learn how to literally read the Bible, but maybe this is what Jesus meant when he said, “Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)

We ask you to join us in prayer as we consider how to help these youth learn to read. We know that YFC will need to collaborate with like-minded partners to address this need among our youth so that Deshaun and so many others can learn this vital skill. As we continue to pursue these collaborations, we are committed to providing more book clubs for teens, distributing early learning books through our Parent Life Ministry, and supporting the school staff in our local detention centers in whatever way we can.