Laubach served as apostle of literacy to millions

Published 12:01 am Saturday, June 13, 2015

One of the things I’m looking forward to doing when I get to heaven is meeting heroes of the faith.

The top of the list, after seeing Jesus, includes the Hebrews 11 people like Noah, Abraham, Sarah, Moses, “Gideon…David and Samuel and the prophets” and many others.

Then, I’d like to talk to Bible teacher Oswald Chambers, Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom, author Catherine Marshall, and Ruth Graham, just to name a few.

It will take an eternity to visit with all of them and loved ones who’ve been there years or decades.

Another person I’d want to meet is Dr. Frank C. Laubach, an evangelical missionary who was concerned about poverty, injustice and illiteracy. While serving in a remote location in the Philippines in 1935, reportedly after a remarkable experience with God, he developed a literacy program which has been used to teach more than 100 million people to read in their own language.

His concept was based on simple instructional primers and charts that could teach people to read and, in turn, the newly-literate could teach their neighbors and friends. Laubach’s slogan was called “Each One Teach One.”

Frank Laubach died on June 11, 1970, but his legacy lives on and not just because of his literacy program. He developed a spiritual method for Christians to think of Christ instead of thinking of ourselves. In fact, he believed that anyone could spend his or her day – moment by moment – in Christ’s presence.

“All during the day, in the chinks of time between the things we find ourselves obliged to do, there are the moments when our minds ask: ‘What next?’ In these chinks of time, ask Him: ‘Lord, think Thy thoughts in my mind. What is on Thy mind for me to do now?’ When we ask Christ, ‘What next?’ we tune in and give Him a chance to pour His ideas through our enkindled imagination. If we persist, it becomes a habit.”

Concerning prayer, Laubach wrote, “Prayer at its highest is a two-way conversation – for me the most important part is listening to God’s replies…The trouble with nearly everybody who prays is that he says ‘Amen’ and runs away before God has a chance to reply. Listening to God is far more important than giving Him our ideas.”

On suffering and trials, he penned these words, “There is a deep peace that grows out of illness and loneliness and a sense of failure. God cannot get close when everything is delightful. He seems to need these darker hours, those empty-hearted hours, to mean the most to people.”

The “Apostle of Literacy” and his wife Effa are buried in Benton, Pa.

Their tombstone describes how they spent their lives. It reads, “World Missionaries.”

What kind of legacy will you and I leave? God has a plan for each one of us. We impact many lives during our lifetime – for good or for bad.

Each one can teach one to read. Each one can reach someone with the message of Christ’s love.

-Jan White is an award-winning columnist. She can be reached at