In the first three verses of the Book of Mormon, the prophet Nephi introduced himself as both a learner and writer of gospel truths: “I, Nephi, … was taught somewhat in all the learning of my father; and … had a great knowledge of the goodness and the mysteries of God. …
“Yea, I make a record … with mine own hand; and I make it according to my knowledge” (1 Ne. 1:1–3).
Because Nephi was well educated in the language of his fathers, he could read from their records and pass on to us the account of God’s dealings with his people. Like Nephi, we, too, need to develop our own literacy—our ability to read and write—so we can have personal access to the scriptures.
Unfortunately, not every Church member has—or fully uses—the vital skills of reading and writing. For this reason, the Relief Society general presidency has set a goal to have Relief Society sisters throughout the world encourage literacy among members of the Church. For some, this goal will mean overcoming social, cultural, or personal barriers to gain basic reading skills. For others, it will mean using their skills to study the scriptures more faithfully and reaching out to help others gain greater gospel literacy.
Sister Mabel Khumalo, a visiting teacher in Zimbabwe, Africa, was concerned when a sister she visited stopped attending Church meetings because she was embarrassed by her inability to read the scriptures or Church manuals. Sister Khumalo and her companion helped the sister sign up for a literacy class available through the Church. “Sister Khumalo!” exclaimed the sister when she heard about the class, “A dream has come true!”
Another visiting teacher, Sister Priscilla Samson-Davis of Ghana, travels across town by bus to visit one sister. “The woman I visit can’t read,” explains Sister Samson-Davis. “When I go, I read the scriptures to her.”
In Sandy, Utah, one sister learned that her visiting teaching companion, who had not attended church for several years, wanted to gain a testimony of her own but felt frustrated in her attempts to read the Book of Mormon. The ward Relief Society president knew of several other sisters who had similar feelings. So, under the direction of the bishop, the Relief Society organized a weekly Book of Mormon class for any interested sisters in the ward. A sister was called to teach the class and lead the discussions. “Changes have taken place in the lives of each woman in the class,” she says. “A woman who had doubts about the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon has gained a strong testimony and has received temple blessings. An older woman who had difficulty grasping basic gospel principles now has a new set of scriptures, which she confidently studies.”
As sisters throughout the world heed the counsel of our leaders to study and search the scriptures, we can better understand Nephi’s words: “My soul delighteth in the scriptures, and my heart pondereth them, and writeth them for the learning and the profit of my children” (2 Ne. 4:15).
How can you make scripture study a more consistent part of your life?
How can you help others gain gospel literacy skills?