Wednesday, October 8, 2014
Stories of the Thirsty
Orality: From the Bush to the Boardroom
By Jerry Wiles, President Emeritus, Living Water International
Special to ASSIST News Service
HOUSTON, TX (ANS) -- All it takes is a casual observation of the turmoil in the world today, the persecution of followers of Jesus and the opposition to the Church, to realize that we are living in very challenging times. A critical question to ask is, “How can we carry out God’s mandate to communicate the Good News of Jesus to everyone, to the ends of the earth, and make disciples among all people groups?” Think of the places today where we cannot take Bibles, gospel literature or technological resources without risking persecution or death.
All of the problems, difficulties, opposition, and persecution that have taken place throughout history have always created a hunger and thirst for the spiritual and eternal. People today are showing a greater thirst for the Living Water that Jesus talked about in John, chapters 4 & 7. These are strategic times to contemplate how followers of Jesus can more effectively be the channels for that Living Water to flow to the ends of the earth, to every person and place, and to make disciples among all people groups.
There are some important lessons that we should learn from Jesus, those first disciples and the Early Church. Consider the fact that the gospel, the teachings of Jesus, spread throughout the entire populated world in the First Century. How did that happen? How did they do it? It was done primarily by ordinary followers of Jesus, telling His Story in ways that were simple, understandable, and reproducible.
We in Living Water International have been on an amazing learning journey over the past few years. We have gleaned lessons from many other groups and organizations, and have taken a closer look at Scripture and Church History. In our own experience, the Spirit of God continues to teach us through many sources. We often gain insights and understanding as we discover the power of shared knowledge and the collective memory of common village people who participate in our Orality Training programs. Many hear Biblical stories, then reflect, ponder and discuss them and share valuable insights. It’s a demonstration of the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit to teach, equip, and direct our lives.
In relation to personally sharing the gospel with our families, neighbors, co-workers, friends and others, we are often prone to make it more complicated than it needs to be. I remember sharing the Lord with a lady once whose response was, “You mean I don’t have to go through religion?” She was amazed and surprised that beginning a relationship with the Living God and becoming a follower of Jesus could happen without being in a church building or going through some religious ritual. Many times when I’ve shared the gospel with someone who is open and responsive, I explain that we don’t have to be in a church building or go through a complicated ritual. The main thing is to simply call on the Lord, believe, trust, and confess Him, as we are instructed in Romans 10.
In a recent conversation with a long-time friend, whom I hadn’t seen in several years, I briefly told him about my involvement with the Orality Movement. He hadn’t even heard of Orality; he thought I was saying morality. However, after briefly sharing with him a few aspects of the movement and the fact that the majority of the world’s population today are oral learners, by necessity or by preference, he got really excited. He told me about a friend who is engaged in a similar type of ministry and asked where he could learn more. I was happy to refer him to some new resources that are available through the International Orality Network at www.orality.net.
There are increasing numbers of articles, journals and case studies available on that website, and several others are linked on that site. The Orality in Theological Education Consultations that have taken place over the past three years have contributed to the visibility and credibility of the movement. The documents published from those consultations are also great resources and are available on ION’s website.
I often get the impression that some of my friends and colleagues think I, and others in the movement, are overly passionate about orality. Actually, it’s that our passion is for Jesus and sharing Him with others everywhere, and making disciples among all people groups. It just happens that orality methods are the most universal and transferable and can have a reproducing and multiplying impact anywhere on the planet. They can work in the most remote bush or jungle regions of Africa, Asia, or Latin America, and they can work in the corporate board rooms and university campuses in Europe and North America. Dr. Steve Douglass, President of Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), has said that the best case for Orality is that it works, better than anything else.
For people who have enough curiosity and interest, it doesn’t take long for them to grasp the significance of the Orality Movement, in relation to communicating the Good News of Jesus and making disciples. It just makes sense when one thinks through the important factors relating to relational, narrative communication and training models, learning preferences and behavior change. Everyone starts out as an oral learner and communicator. Every three- or four-year-old is an oral learner. One amazing fact, however, is to realize that there are many well-educated people who are still oral preference learners.
Another encouraging development taking place within the Orality Movement is the conversation, interest, and experimentation of the use of Orality methods in the corporate world in relation to organizational development, team building, and leadership training. Orality in Business as Mission is also gaining much interest. Followers of Jesus can more effectively be salt and light in every segment of society when we recognize the unlimited power and creative ability of the Holy Spirit to communicate truth and advance the Kingdom of God.
The Orality Movement, which is in reality the Jesus Movement, is spreading and growing with increasing impact from the Bush to the Boardroom.
For additional information about the Orality Movement and training opportunities, visit – www.water.cc/orality
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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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