This week, almost by chance, I watched the second, and final, episode of a Channel 4 documentary, the Write Offs, about eight adults taking on an ambitious literacy challenge. I found it inspiring and moving.


The Write Offs is a two-part series, led by Sandi Toksvig, in which eight adults who lacked basic literacy skills, braved the challenge of improving their reading, writing and spelling. At the start of the series the eight adults all lacked the basic literacy skills needed for everyday situations such as shopping, reading texts from friends, or travelling on public transport. Over a four month period they received one-to-one tuition, and the programme showed them facing a series of challenges to put their growing skills to the test.


I found myself sharing Sandi Toksvig’s obvious warmth towards the eight participants, longing to offer them my support too, and willing them to succeed in their challenges, and grow in confidence. Most of all, I found myself filled with admiration for them; admiration for their courage in letting others see their lack of skill, that many of them had obviously been taught by society to find shameful, and admiration for their incredible determination in tackling not only their literacy learning, but also the surrounding anxieties and emotions, that they had often lived with for many years. I found myself hoping, as the series’ producers clearly did, that the publicly aired journey of these eight brave people would inspire others to feel that they too can overcome a problem that must seem insurmountable to many.


The New Testament often stresses the idea of those who share belief in Christ as becoming one family, where they all belong together, and where if one person rejoices all rejoice, and if one person weeps all weep. The New Testament teaches too that the love and care of such a family should be continually rippling outwards to include everyone. When so much of our culture seems to expect us or encourage us to compete with one another, I found the series the Write Offs wonderfully refreshing and inspiring, with its evident mutual support and mutual celebration of the progress made by each person.


  • Reflect on a time when you have rejoiced to see the progress or achievement of someone else.

  • Is there someone you know, who would value your support and encouragement?

  • Is there someone you could ask to support or encourage you?


Prayer for the week - 2nd October 2020


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