By Jerry Wiles – In 1806, Samuel J. Mills, Jr., a student at Williams College was one of five participants in what became known as the famous “haystack prayer meeting.” It was a catalyst for a good number of significant mission movements. Mills also led in the formation of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, the American Bible Society, the United Foreign Missionary Society, and several other organizations. He is a great example of how one or a few can impact so many.
Consider what it takes to ignite a movement, build a business, or grow a church or organization? What are the principles, methods or strategies that enable each of us, as followers of Jesus, to make the greatest possible contribution to advancing the Kingdom of God? These are important questions to ponder, and I suggest there are some very simple and understandable answers.
The Power of Prayer
Another example in Church history is Daniel Nash (1775-1831) who served as Charles Finney’s personnel intercessor. He was key to the revival that followed Finney’s ministry. We can all look at the life of Daniel Nash and see an example of how important prayer is in advancing the kingdom of God. When God would direct where a meeting was to be held, Nash would quietly go into the town and seek to get two or three people to join in a covenant of prayer with him. They would pray fervently for God to move in the community.
The lives and influence of those like Mills and Nash should inspire each of us, as followers of Jesus, that we too can be used to ignite and foster movements of God. Scripture affirmed that we have access to the throne of grace and are invited to come to Him in times of need.
Little Things can have Big Impact
The parables of Jesus about mustard seed and yeast are a couple of examples of Kingdom principles that help us understand how we can be salt and light in society, even be catalysts to start or promote movements that change the world. From these parables, we learn that little things can have major impact. Biblical examples would be the Samaritan Woman at the Well, the demon possessed Gerasene, and Phillip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. These show how God can use one person to impact a community, a region or even an entire nation.
In the natural realm, think of the fact that every major river starts with a small stream. A small snowball can cause an avalanche. A seed is the beginning of a tree that produces much fruit. Consider how many major corporations started out in someone’s kitchen or garage. Megachurches, as well as major church planting/disciple making movements, have started in living rooms, coffee shops, storefronts and under trees.
Passion for Sharing the Gospel
During the “Jesus Movement” of the 1970s, there was a popular song titled, “It Only takes a Spark to get a Fire Going.” Many students and young people were ignited with great passion during those days for sharing the Gospel on college and university campuses around the country. In my own journey, I have experienced how influencing one person, or leading someone to Christ, can result in hundreds of others coming to the Lord.
A couple of years ago I reconnected with a friend I had some ministry with more than 30 years ago. We were in Washington, D.C. after a White House briefing waiting for a taxi on a nearby sidewalk. It was raining and a kind lady standing close by offered to share her umbrella with us. While we waited together for the taxi, I engaged her in conversation, asked a few questions and shared the gospel with her. She was interested and open and we had prayer together, and she confessed her faith in Jesus. The whole encounter took less than ten minutes.
Not realizing it at the time, but that experience had a significant impact on my friend Brian and inspired him to be more proactive in reaching out to share Christ with others. He recently told me that he has consistently shared the gospel with others since then, and on average, seen two or three people a week come to the Lord. Brian is an example of how the Lord honors our sowing the Seed of the Word of God into the lives of others. When we do so, we can expect that occasionally it will take root in good soil.
In the 1970s and ‘80s a few mission and church leaders became interested in and began discussions about Orality, Oral Cultures and Oral Learners. Those discussions were about what it will take to complete the Great Commission and how to reach the unreached and Bible-less people groups of the world. It was from those conversations that resulted in creating the Oral Bible Task Force during Amsterdam 2000. Then four years later it became known as the International Orality Network, in collaboration with the Lausanne Movement.
The 2021 ION North America Regional Connection, October 15-16, will be a unique opportunity to learn more about this movement. Learn more here:
Increasing numbers of mission and ministry leaders, pastors and church leaders, business professionals and ordinary followers of Jesus are now paying attention to the Orality Movement. There are a number of global mission leaders who are saying that it could revolutionize the way the Christian world thinks about communicating the gospel and making disciples, that would be cross-cultural, transferable and reproducible.
Consider — from seed to fruit, from stream to river, from snowball to avalanche. The Orality Movement is an example of those Kingdom principles being worked out in our time. If the past 40 years is an indicator of all the Lord has in mind for the next 40 years, we can all be a part of this historic move of God in advancing His Kingdom here on earth and the realization of the prophecy of Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” Scripture tells us that God is no respecter of persons. We often say, “He is an equal opportunity employer.” We can all get in on what He is doing in redeeming His creation. We can fully expect that God will honor the seed of His Word as we sow it into the lives of others.