200 not out – and still going!

28 July 2021

If you love cricket, you will know that to score 200 runs without getting caught out is quite an achievement.

This milestone has also just been passed by MissionAssist’s Functional Literacy service which, through its Shell Books product, has now published more than 200 titles in English.

A ‘shell book’ is a basic book format which often includes illustrations accompanied by very simple text. In this way, the same book can be adapted for use by many different language groups for literacy and multilingual education. The ‘shell book’ concept was developed in Papua New Guinea.

More titles are being added to the list by MissionAssist’s Functional Literacy service on a weekly basis. All of these will eventually be available in French, Portuguese, Spanish translations, as well as MissionAssist’s own EasyEnglish. But there is a lot of translation work to do to achieve that!

A recent use of MissionAssist Shell Books has been by Bruce and Candice Beatham, who work for SIL in Mexico, with a language group called Mixtec. Working there for almost 20 years, they have developed literacy materials but find there is little interest from the people to read.

Candice says: “It has been a struggle to convince the people that their language has value, that it can be written down and read, and that reading is a wonderful thing!”

This is a challenge when the average person has maybe a 6th grade education and has never seen their language in print! This is where MissionAssist and our Shell Books come in. Bruce and Candice have translated two books which they feel will be of help to the local people, into the Mixtec language. They then put all of their materials into a digital format and make audio recordings, so people can use their phones to read/hear their language – bringing them into the 21st century!

Candice adds: “The problems encountered are even more widespread. Whilst the language area includes 25,000 people, it is thought that at least two translations will be needed to cover the entire area, located in the Sierra Madre mountain range. Villages are separated by rugged mountains, and people only really understand each other if they are no more than a day’s walk apart”.

Amongst the new books added by MissionAssist are some on Inspirational Christians. These aim to tell how people from all walks of life have been used by God to do great things. They also serve as a challenge for the readers of the books to consider what they could achieve if prepared to offer themselves in His work.

The number of books being downloaded is increasing each month, and we hope to further increase that by promoting the use of Shell Books on social media.

Praise God for the milestone that has been reached; and continue to pray for the translation teams.

Find out more about MissionAssist Shell Books