Wednesday, May 28, 2014
The Transforming Power of Water and the Word
God’s Word + Fertile Hearts = Reproducing Life
By Jerry Wiles, President Emeritus, Living Water International
Special to ASSIST News Service
HOUSTON, TX (ANS) -- Ahmed, a Kurdish gentleman who had escaped from Northern Iraq a few years ago, told me his story of how God had protected and guided him in coming to the United States. That conversation gave me the opportunity to share with him about how God often uses experiences like his to capture our attention and demonstrate His love and care for us.
After spending a few minutes with him and sharing some biblical principles of what it means to be a follower of Jesus, I loaned him a Bible to read. Two weeks later, I encountered Ahmed again and found that he had been sharing with others about Jesus. Then he said, “I’m almost finished reading the Bible. What should I read next?”
It is always encouraging to encounter people like Ahmed, who are open and eager to embrace the Lord, have a passion to know His Word and immediately begin to share Him with others.
I’m often reminded of the parable of the Sower in Mark chapter 4, which describes the different kinds of soil. Jesus explained that the seed represents the Word of God, and the four kinds of soil represent the condition of people’s hearts. Some people have hard hearts, some have shallow hearts, some have crowded hearts, and others have fertile hearts that receive the Word and produce 30, 60 or 100 times what is sown. We may not know the condition of people’s hearts until we share the good seed of the Word of God and the Good News of Jesus.
We regularly hear stories of people who participate in our Orality Training Workshops, and immediately begin to share with others and encounter those who want to respond to Jesus and follow Him. Sadly, the majority of people, even some active church goers, do not have a passion to share the Lord, and the majority of people who hear the gospel are not open to respond and receive Him. However, the more we sow the seed of God’s Word, in whatever form is appropriate (spoken, written or otherwise), the more we will encounter those who have fertile and receptive hearts. We understand and value the importance of following up and continuous training, but realize that ultimately what matters is getting people on the journey of following Jesus. It is the reproducing life of the Lord Jesus that produces lasting fruit.
A young lady who attended one of Living Water’s Orality Training Workshops, shared how effective she found telling stories and asking questions to be in communicating the message of Jesus. She actually led another lady to Jesus after the first day of training and was excited to find how open people were to having a conversation and listening to stories from the Word of God. She had never done that before, but told me, “From now on, I will be sharing the gospel using stories and questions.”
It is amazing how we sometimes can make things so complicated, when they should be simple and natural; or, I should say, “supernatural,” when it comes to communicating spiritual truth and the Good News of Jesus. That is the reason that God sent the Holy Spirit to indwell us and enable us to be salt and light and reveal His life to others. Jesus said that anyone who comes to Him and believes in Him, will have rivers of Living Water flowing from within him. He then explained that He was speaking of the Holy Spirit of God.
Some foundational truths that are important in our work of bringing Water and the Word to the neediest people around the world are recognizing the work of the Spirit in and through us, and the principles of the kingdom of God that Jesus taught, as recorded in the Gospels. He is not always concerned with the big crowds or our big plans. Sometimes it is the seemingly little things and seemingly unimportant people that God uses to accomplish His most significant work.
A man I shared the gospel with more than 20 years ago recently told me about some of his spiritual journey since our first meeting. As a result of him coming to the Lord, his sister received Christ, as well as his brother-in-law and several other family members. This friend has continued to faithfully share Christ over the years. Only the Lord knows how many people’s lives are being impacted. The Seed of God’s Word has a multiplying effect as it takes root in fertile, receptive hearts.
The late Dr. Avery Willis, founding director of the International Orality Network used to remind us that you can count the seeds in an apple, but you can’t count the apples in a seed. We don’t always need to know the impact we may have on other people’s lives, as encouraging as that can be. If we faithfully share the Living Water of Jesus and sow the seed of the Word of God in people’s lives, we can trust Him for the results. His Word, in whatever form it is communicated, will produce fruit.
There is much that we in the Western World can learn from how the Lord is at work in the rapidly reproducing church planting/disciple-making movements in other parts of the world. Simple people who hear and understand the gospel of Jesus often embrace and share Him with others immediately. The massage spreads quickly throughout these more communal, relational, Oral Cultures. This is really more like the Early Church we read about in the book of Acts. They are timeless principles that will work anywhere and at any time.
For more information about the Orality Movement and training opportunities, visit www.water.cc/orality
Editor’s note: This is the final article in this fascinating series by Jerry Wiles under the general title of “The Transforming Power of Water and the Word.” Now watch out for an exciting new series from Jerry which will be called “Stories of the Thirsty.”
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This story is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views of the ASSIST News Service or ASSIST Ministries.
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