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Frank Laubach

Frank Laubach
Born September 2, 1884
Died June 11, 1970(1970-06-11) (aged 85)
Occupation Missionary, mystic

Frank Charles Laubach (September 2, 1884 – June 11, 1970), from Benton, PA was a Congregational Christian missionary educated at Union Theological Seminary and Columbia University, and a mystic known as "The Apostle to the Illiterates." In 1915 (see Laubach, Thirty Years With the Silent Billion), while working among Muslims at a remote location in the Philippines, he developed the "Each One Teach One" literacy program. It has been used to teach about 60 million people to read in their own language.[1] He was deeply concerned about poverty, injustice and illiteracy, and considered them barriers to peace in the world.

In 1955, he founded Laubach Literacy, which helped introduce about 150,000 Americans to reading each year and had grown to embrace 34 developing countries. An estimated 2.7 million people worldwide were learning to read through Laubach-affiliated programs.[2] In 2002, this group merged with Literacy Volunteers of America, Inc. to form ProLiteracy Worldwide.

During the latter years of his life, Laubach traveled all over the world speaking on the topics of literacy and world peace. He was author of a number of devotional writings and works on literacy.

One of his most widely influential devotional works was a pamphlet entitled "The Game with Minutes." In it, Laubach urged Christians to attempt keeping God in mind for at least one second of every minute of the day. In this way Christians can attempt the attitude of constant prayer spoken of in the Epistle to the Colossians. The pamphlet extolled the virtues of a life lived with unceasing focus on God. Laubach's insight came from his experiments in prayer detailed in a collection of his letters published under the title, Letters by a Modern Mystic.

Laubach is the only American missionary to be honored on a US postage stamp, a 30¢ Great Americans series stamp in 1984.[3]

Laubach had a deep interest in the Philippines. He wrote a biography of the Filipino national hero, Jose Rizal: Man and Martyr, published in Manila in 1936. He also translated the hero's valedictory poem, "Mi Ultimo Adios" (My Last Farewell.) His version is ranked second in ideas, content, rhyme and style among the 35 English translations in a collection.

He was considered a pioneer mover of Maranao literature. He wrote:

"The Moros of Lake Lanao have amazingly rich literature, all the more amazing since it exists only in the memories of the people and had just begun to be recorded in writing. It consists of lyric and poetry with the epic greatly predominating."

His emphasis on the use of Easy English for literacy led directly to the development by WEC International in 1962 of an evangelistic paper using his basic vocabulary called SOON, which now prints 3 million copies a year.


  • Bibliography 1
  • Notes 2
  • Further reading 3
  • External links 4


  • Laubach, Frank C. 1925. The people of the Philippines: their religious progress and preparation for spiritual leadership in the Far East. New York: George H. Doran Company.
  • Laubach, Frank C. 1938. Toward a Literate World; with a foreword by Edward L. Thorndike. New York: Printed by Columbia University Press for the World literacy committee of the Foreign missions conference of North America.
  • Laubach, Frank C. 1940. India Shall be Literate. Jubbulpore, C.P., India: Printed by F. E. Livengood at the Mission press.
  • Laubach, Frank C. 1945. The Silent Billion Speak, New York: Friendship Press.
  • Laubach, Frank C. 1946. Prayer: The Mightiest Force in the World. Westwood, N.J.: F. H. Revell Co.
  • Laubach, Frank C., translator. 1956. The Inspired Letters in Clearest English (Portions of the New Testament). New York: Thomas Nelson & Sons.
  • Laubach, Frank C. 1960. Thirty Years with the Silent Billion: Adventuring in Literacy. Westwood, New Jersey: Fleming H. Revell Company.
  • Laubach, Frank C. 1964. How to teach One and Win One for Christ: Christ's plan for winning the world: each one teach and win one. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House.
  • Laubach, Frank C. 1970. Forty Years with the Silent Billion: Adventuring in Literacy. Old Tappan, N.J.: F. H. Revell Co.


  1. ^ Good-bye to Frank Laubach, Apostle of Literacy, Christian History Institute web site, accessed 4th December, 2006
  2. ^
  3. ^ Great Americans stamps

Further reading

  • Roberts, Helen M. 1961. Champion of the silent billion: the story of Frank C. Laubach, apostle of literacy. St. Paul: Macalester Park Pub. Co.
  • Laubach, Frank C. Letters by a Modern Mystic. Foreword by Alden H. Clark. Edited and compiled by Constance E. Padwick. Syracuse, N.Y.: New Readers Press, 1955. First published in 1937.
  • Edwards, Gene, ed. Practicing His Presence: Frank Laubach and Brother Lawrence. Goleta, Calif.: Christian Books, 1973. An instructive comparison.
  • Laubach, Frank C. Christ Liveth in Me and Game with Minutes. Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1961. A practical guide to living with God in mind.
  • Prayer, the Mightiest Force in the World. Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1951.
  • The World Is Learning Compassion. Westwood, N.J.: Fleming H. Revell Co., 1958. Chapter 7 deals with Truman's "Point Four" referred to earlier.
  • Medary, Marjorie. Each One Teach One: Frank Laubach, Friend to Millions. New York: Longmans, Green & Co., 1954. An account of Laubach's linguistic methods.

External links

  • ProLiteracy Worldwide
  • SIL's resource page for 'The Laubach Literacy Instructional Program'
  • Frank C. Laubach Collection, Syracuse University (primary source material)
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