Books bring literacy, faith

By Amelia Krauss

Ethiopians hungry for knowledge gather outside a room on the second story of a building in the country’s capital, Addis Ababa. The first floor houses a coffee shop, but the second holds the key to much more than coffee. Students, pastors and children wait patiently to enter the crowded room, eager to turn the pages of books that hold eternal significance.

This is a common scene at Tinsae Library, which means “Resurrection Library,” said Brian Denker, assistant to the director of the Ryan Center for Biblical Studies. Denker traveled to Addis Ababa this summer to help jump-start the library, which was founded by Indigenous Outreach International on Easter.

“We have a hard time convincing students (in America) to study because they might not see the value in it,” Denker said. “(But) over there, there’s so little opportunity (that when) they look up and see this free access to training and information, they’re waiting in line outside to get to the library.”

The one-room library provides English reading material to the public for free. Union’s Ryan Center, responsible for providing books for the library, sent its third shipment last month. The Ryan Center collects any Christian literature, including theology books, Bible studies, commentaries and even children’s books that can be used to help teach English.

Patrick Beard is the director of Indigenous Outreach International, a ministry seeking to serve indigenous missionaries and the founding organization of the Tinsae Library. Beard is grateful for the help of the Ryan Center.

“The Ryan Center has been a great asset to provide the books,” he said. “It’s been really successful so far.”

The library houses more than 1,000 books, attracting crowds of people hungry for Scripture or a way to improve their English, Denker said.

“Any English books they can get their hands on are highly valued,” he said.

“One young Ethiopian student would read romance novels just to learn English. He finds cast-off Danielle Steel novels and reads them cover to cover.”

Now, students like this have access to material that teach them English and will help lead them to Christ. According to Beard, that is the library’s ultimate goal.

“The vision for the library is not so much to teach English, (because) if that’s all we’ve done, we’ve kind of missed it,” Beard said. “What we really want to see is people coming to Christ. We want them to hear the Gospel.”

Because the Tinsae Library provides the public with access to Christian material, it is helping reach the needs of spiritually hungry people. For this reason, Denker encourages students, faculty and community members to donate books to the Ryan Center so they may be shipped to help the library continue to grow.

Beard said he hopes God will use Union students to donate and play a role in furthering the Gospel in Ethiopia.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.