By Jerry Wiles –
A few years ago a lady in the Central African Republic heard the Story of Jesus Calming the Storm, from Mark chapter 4. After the lady heard the story for the first time, she said, “I see that those disciples went to Jesus first during that storm on the sea.” She went on to say, “I see that for me, I should be going to Jesus first, instead of the witch doctor. So, from now on, I’ll be going to Jesus, instead of the witch doctor when I face problems or storms. This is a great example of how the Holy Spirit can give insights and understanding of spiritual truths and applications, beyond what we might share.
The Power of Telling Stories and Asking Questions
The lady who told the story had just learned it in an Orality Training Workshop and immediately shared it with others in a village. In this training, it is emphasized that we don’t have to be great story tellers, because we have great stories to tell. Those experiencing Orality // Bible Storying Training discover the power of learning a little, practicing a lot, implementing immediately and telling the stories often. Participants are trained to tell the stories from the Bible, ask the right questions, facilitate small group retelling and discussion, and how to help others discover the meaning and applications from the lessons in the stories.
Where to Go during the Storms of Life
We all face storms in life – problems, pressure, difficulties or crisis situations. A great question to ask people is, “Would you like to hear a story that will help you better deal with the problems, difficulties and pressures in life?” This particular story is short and easy to learn, and can be used to communicate many important lessons. We can use this story to talk about the uniqueness of Jesus, about His humanity — He was tired and sleepy, so He was sleeping in the back of the boat during the storm. Yet, He demonstrated His deity by showing His power over nature.
One Simple Story, Many Spiritual Truths
One of the many benefits of Orality Training is that people learn how effective it can be in sharing the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus. In Living Water International’s introductory training, we emphasize how one can use any of the stories to introduce the message of salvation in Christ, with the appropriate pre- and post-story dialogue and discussion. Stories can become the vehicles for communicating many theological themes and spiritual truths. In fact, one simple story from Scripture can be used to share many biblical truths.
Finding the Path to God
A person might ask a question like, “Would you like to hear a story that can help you have a more personal, intimate relationship with God?” Or, in a situation where people know very little about God or the Bible, a great question to ask is, “Would you like to hear a story that will help you find the path to God?” Another good question to introduce a story is, “Can I tell you a story that will help you better deal with problems, pressures and difficulties?” Telling the Story of Jesus Calming the Storm can lead to a series of questions. Some of those questions could be:
- What can we learn from this story about how Jesus cares?
- Does Jesus still have power over nature and our circumstances?
- Can Jesus still bring calmness to us during our storms of life?
- Does His Word still have power today?
- Do our words have power to change things and circumstances?
The Value of Going to Jesus First
Let’s go back to the idea of going to Jesus first, instead of the witch doctor. In our cultural context, how often do we go to the wrong source first or try to come up with some human solution? What about when we face problems and difficulties, who do we go to first? It could be that if we go to Jesus first, we may not need to go to other sources. He may often use some other human resource in our lives, but He may desire to answer our prayers or meet our needs in different ways than what we think. It can’t hurt to go to Him first, then trust Him to give wisdom and direction.
An important lesson we learn from Jesus is that He did nothing of Himself, but what He saw the Father doing is what He did. The fact is, that is how He desires for us, as His followers, to live our lives. When we make ourselves available to the Lord Jesus, as He made Himself available to the Father through the Eternal Spirit, He will make Himself available to us. We often call that inter-mutual availability. We can experience the same God in action today, who was active through the humanity of Jesus 2,000 plus years ago. The same God who lived in Jesus Christ then, now lives in us who are born of His Spirit. We are the temple, the dwelling place of God, and can be instruments of His love and power and redemptive activity today.
Our Best Model for Making Disciples
We, in the modern Western World, sometimes make things more complicated than they need to be. Then when we try to take our Western contextual models to the rest of the world, it just doesn’t fit. Even in our own cultures in North America, we sometimes tend to complicate the message of God and fail to appropriately communicate and relate it to those who need it most. Jesus, of course, is our best model as a communicator, trainer and disciple-maker. He told stories and parables, asked questions, created community and relationships, that have been reproduced ever since. However, after the invention of the printing press, the church became more dependent on literate or written means and neglected the most effective ways and means of communication and training (disciple-making).
God, the Equal Opportunity Employer
Increasing numbers of church and ministry leaders are recognizing the great need for getting back to the roots of the Early Church and the life, teachings and Spirit of Jesus. He is still alive and living in each of us who are born of His Spirit. The methods and strategies that He used then will still work for us today. God is an equal opportunity employer, and He will continue His work through us if we simply trust and obey Him. Introducing others to Jesus and encouraging them in their walk with Him is the most basic and most important work we can do to advance God’s kingdom.