I know an LDS man who is a very poor learner, but not retarded. He is a convert to the Church. In about two years of activity he still hasn’t learned who Nephi and Lehi are. We’re trying to study the scriptures and I see how poor his reading comprehension is. He gets so frustrated that it’s extremely hard to motivate him. What’s out there for people like him? How can he feast on the words of Christ if he can’t digest them?
It is wonderful that you are trying to help this brother. Don’t be discouraged, perhaps all that is needed is a little shift in perspective.
The Lord knows this brother and loves him dearly, just as He loves each of us. Just as the Spirit can speak to the hearts of little children who are not capable of understanding deeper doctrine, He can speak to this man’s heart. The Savior said the two greatest commandments are to love God and love one another. That is a lesson that people of any mental ability can learn, but sometimes our pride gets in the way. Children and people with learning disabilities are often more loving than the rest of us because of their “limits.” I suspect that this good brother has a lot that he could share and teach others about love.
Rather than trying to teach him about Nephi and Lehi, simply teach him to listen to the Spirit. Help him develop his confidence in that, and the Holy Ghost will teach him all he needs to know. An Ensign article about helping children recognize the Holy Ghost says:
“The Prophet Joseph Smith taught that the Spirit talks to us in our language and in ways we can understand. The Holy Ghost adapts His language to be understood by all, even little children. “Our Heavenly Father is always available to us. He adapts to our level of understanding. ‘If He comes to a little child, He will adapt himself to the language and capacity of a little child’ (Joseph Smith, in History of the Church, 3:392).” Helping Children Recognize the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost can and will adapt to the level this man needs. If this brother needs the gospel taught to him on a “primary” level, then that is what he needs. There is no shame in that, and he will not be held back from any of Heavenly Father’s choice blessings for his limitations.
The article I mentioned above also has another helpful tip about learning styles. Some people are visual learners, these people tend to enjoy reading and art. Others are auditory learners. They tend to learn better through lectures than reading and they love music. Some learners are kinesthetic. They need movement, and struggle in a traditional classroom setting where they are expected to sit still. Consider what this brother’s learning style is. I would guess not visual, perhaps auditory or kinesthetic then. As a convert, he may have missed out on the wonderful teaching power of Primary songs. Does he have a calling? Perhaps a calling in the Primary where he could learn those songs, and learn the gospel with the children would be helpful?
Again, I commend you for caring about this man and trying to assist him in learning the gospel. If you haven’t already, don’t forget to ask Heavenly Father what would be the best way to help. Also remember that we all appreciate being needed. I believe there are things this brother can teach and share with others if he is given the opportunity. Looking for and facilitating these opportunities will bless both this man and those he reaches.