The Most Valuable Thing

“What is the most valuable thing you have learned so far in your classes?”

I asked this question while I was visiting an Adult Literacy Class in India a few years ago.

The translator communicated my question to the group of women. Suddenly, the room buzzed with voices.

Everyone was speaking up! They seemed to be debating, going back and forth about what was most important. I wondered how they would respond. Would they talk about hygiene, the ability to sign their names, to calculate numbers? Being able to help their kids with their homework?

I’ll never forget what happened next. One woman finally stood (apparently the spokesperson for the whole group) and said just one word: “Everything.”


I have to confess, as the staff writer for Mission India, sometimes I feel like I’m not adequately expressing the needs illiterate men and women in India have—because they’re things we take for granted, like:

  • knowing to wash our hands to help prevent disease
  • being able to read maps and street signs
  • telling time
  • saving instead of borrowing money
  • putting kids in school instead of sending them to work
  • how to administer first aid for a cut
  • being aware of the dangers of tobacco and alcoholism
  • AIDS prevention
  • the importance of good nutrition
  • our rights as citizens
  • knowing about Jesus (400+ million people in India have never even heard His name)

But what I sometimes struggle to tell you in MANY  words, this woman shared in one: “everything.”

Adult Literacy Classes address all of these needs … and even more! And the change these precious men and women experience through their lessons is truly amazing! Read some of their stories here.