Thursday, September 16, 2010

Literacy: Strengthing Tokples Education in Papua New Guinea - STEP

What is STEP?

- STEP is a training program for Papua New Guineans that teaches them how to set up and manage community-based literacy programs for children and adults.

- STEP consists of five one-month instructional modules which are completed in less than two years.

- Village assignments provide practical opportunities to apply concepts and skills learned in the formal classroom setting.

For more information:

Mark and Sue Ambrose teach at the STEP course in PNG and recently shared some stories from STEP course graduates. 

Tesli is a committed young lady eager to see
the youth in her area become rooted in God’s
Word. She holds religious instruction classes in
the local school, as well as coordinates the
Sunday School classes for her area. The Lord
has blessed her with musical talent which she
puts to good use in her youth work. We were
very saddened to hear that her fellow STEP
graduate recently died from an apparent stroke.

Jeffrey & Hauwo from the Onabasulu language in Southern Highlands Province graduated from STEP in 2001. They have been teaching children in their own language since then, as well as rained many new teachers (above), developed a curriculum and produced many materials for the schools. The children who learned to read and write in their ‘mother tongue’ have progressed more quickly in higher grades. The Scriptures are being translated into Onabasulu, and Jeffrey and Hauwo’s efforts will mean more readers
for God’s Word.
Ezekiel from Menyamya says STEP was a life changing experience for him. He has held fluency classes, helping adults to read more easily and with more
understanding (R). Ezekiel’s uncle donated this new coffee garden to help fund literacy in the area. Here they are dedicating it to the Lord’s work (L).

Carson Evari (2nd from L) finished in
2003. He is now mentoring 3 men from
neighbouring dialects, as well as
continuing work in his own area.
Throughout the Oro Province he has
helped in several language groups,
running teacher training courses and
literacy workshops, and part of an
AIDS awareness team for his province.

Torom's Testimony
by Yohana Hynum

From beneath a furrowed and troubled brow, Torom peered at me with sullen eyes. Strange young man. Why had Samuel chosen him to join us for training at the Wycliffe center? Had I known his background, I would have protested. Wife beater; heavy drinker; temper... But I didn’t know, so Torom stayed.

The first six week long module of the STEP course for training literacy supervisors proved difficult for Torom. In addition to his personal problems, Torom labored under a curse put on him by young people from his village who were jealous of his education. He nearly gave up and returned home. But Samuel persisted in counseling him and before the year was over, God’s work in his life became more and more obvious. Two years later, at the end of the course, Torom penned a powerful testimony.

”I have a vision to help my people back home to read God’s word in our own language. I’ll encourage and train teachers to teach adult and child literacy classes because Jesus came down to earth and healed the blind and the deaf (John 9:1-6). In the same way, God has called me to go out and open the eyes of the people who cannot read His words. I’ve got a job that God has assigned me to do and that is to go out and open the eyes of the people both physically and spiritually so that they may know Him and receive Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour.”
True to his word, Torom started a school in his village to teach the children to read Numanggang. It wasn’t easy. He struggled with the load of teaching for little or no pay while still providing for a growing family. At times he would quit teaching and we wondered if he was growing in his relationship with the Lord.

Then recently two encounters with Torom assured us of God’s work in his life. First, because of Torom’s fluency in reading Numanggang, we asked him to dub the voice of Luke for the Jesus Film. Not only did he amaze everyone with superb ability to read in a dialect other than his own, but his passion and commitment to the task revealed his heart.

Then in September, at a teachers’ training course in our home, Torom led the other teachers as they read the entire book of Colossians in Numanggang. After finishing, he proceeded to exhort them powerfully from the Word! It was an awesome thing to hear!

Torom dubbing the JESUS film
A few months later, the Jesus Film was carried to Torom’s distant village, and Torom’s recorded voice rang loudly and clearly across the mountains. After seeing the film, a group of youth from a nearby village approached Torom. “We observed you before and you were a drunken, angry man who hit his wife,” they said. “But now you have really changed. You don’t hit your wife and you are not cross. On the contrary, you are a man of peace. We have watched you and we want to leave our old habits of sin and follow Christ like you do. Now we understand that Jesus really did die for our sins. We’ve been following the old ways, but now we have to repent!” Filled with eager questions, they met together with David and Torom for several hours.

Torom’s words of joy to me the following day were the fulfillment of his written testimony five years ago. “They used to be spiritually blind, but when they saw the film, they understood the story of Jesus for the first time and could now understand the Scripture. They were deeply touched by the film because Jesus spoke in their own language. The children in Mumbang, Sadau and Bisit told their parents that they wanted to buy the New Testament in Numanggang. They bought their own copies and are really happy, going around smiling, hugging the Scriptures to their chests.”

These are the same children Torom has been teaching to read in Numanggang! If the angels rejoice over one changed life, what a celebration there must be!

A co-worker recently reported, “Torom has been working with the New Apostolic Church [a group that originally rejected the New Testament] and is promoting Scripture use. He has been helping them to understand...and the people in that church are happy about it. The relationship with that church has improved and the churches are coming together!”
Let’s give the Lord a thunderous round of applause!

All photos by the author, Yohana Hynum.

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