After four years of working with the Canela people of Brazil, we finally received the boxes of literacy primers. The villagers were eager to use these illustrated booklets to learn to read their Canela alphabet that Jo and I had invented during those years of analysis and language learning.
Now the books were here, but there was a huge problem. Adult Canelas work in their fields from sunrise to sunset, so they could come to classes only in the evening when it was too dark to see the blackboard or their books. Even the tiny oil lamps with their flickering, candle-sized flames could not dispel the darkness.
To solve that problem, Jo and I took our direction from God himself, who, as the first act of creation, said, “Let there be light,” and there was light! So as the first act of the creation of a literate Canela society, we brought in some 12-volt fluorescent light fixtures, connected them to a car battery that we charged with a 35-year-old war surplus hand-cranked generator, and, “There was light!”
From Entering Light to Bringing Light
It was light shining on their booklets that opened the door to giving Canelas the choice to learn new skills and gain further knowledge or to remain as they were.
We helped scores of Canelas to read, and we were thrilled that some of them passed on what they had learned and taught other Canelas to read. These Canela teachers were like Light bearers, passing on the Light to others.
It reminded me of how Jesus describes Himself, “I am the Light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness but will have the Light of life.” John 8:12. He tells us, “You are the Light of the world. Let your Light shine before people in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father, who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:14,16.
God Also Gives People a Choice
Just as we gave the Canelas a choice, so God, for the past two-thousand years, has given many people an opportunity: Enter the Light, and become a Light-bearer, versus Stay in darkness.
About this choice, Jesus said, “This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of Light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the Light and will not come into the Light for fear that their deeds will be exposed.” John 3:19-20.
Some Canelas were not interested in learning to read, but this didn’t deter us. Some rejected learning because they thought they were too old, or their eyes were bad, or they had several younger family members who were readers. We encouraged ourselves by focusing on a significant goal—still fifteen years in the future—the translation of God’s Word into the Canela language, to be printed in books and distributed to the literate Canelas.
2 Corinthians 4:6 repeats the theme that God, who first ordered ‘Light to shine in the darkness,’ has flooded our hearts with His Light. We now can enlighten people because we can give them knowledge of the glory of God, as we see it in Jesus Christ.
This is what we all can do: meditate on every aspect of Jesus, the Light of the world—His love for us, His constant presence with us, and His invitation to cast all our cares on Him. The more we ponder on all these and other qualities of Jesus, the more His Light shines into our souls, minds, emotions, and bodies, and the more we shed Light to others.
Jo and I have never regretted bringing electric light to the Canela students, and even more so, we are over-the-top blessed that God made us Light bearers so that Canelas could enter the Light. We want to continue to be Light bearers to people around us today.
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