By Jerry Wiles — Over a period of about five years, Living Water International, in partnership with local churches, conducted Orality Training with more than 1,200 pastors, evangelists, missionaries and church planters in Ethiopia. On return trips we always heard amazing stories and testimonies of how God was using the Orality methods and strategies, and how they were having impact and being reproduced.
One man shared about how they used to go into Muslim villages, pass out gospel literature and preach, and the people wanted to run them out of the community. Now, after receiving the Orality Training, he said they tell stories, ask questions, have discussions and build rapport.
And the people wanted to follow Jesus!
During one of our follow-up Orality Training for Trainers (OT4T) sessions, an evangelist who had participated in previous trainings gave me the picture and told me the story. He had been reaching out to a Muslim community and had told the Bible stories that he had learned in the training. After telling some of the stories and engaging in conversations, the village chief, who was also a Muslim imam, asked a question. He said, “Can Issa (Jesus) still do miracles today?” The evangelist said, “Yes, He can.” The village chief then explained that his ten-year-old daughter had gone missing for several days. In a state of desperation, the chief said if Issa (Jesus) could help find his daughter, he would become a follower of His.
Power of Prayer
The evangelist prayed with the chief and his family and called on the Lord to help find the daughter. The next day they found the daughter. As a result, the chief embraced the gospel and confessed Christ. Not only that, but his whole family also came to the Lord. Over time, the entire community was transformed by becoming followers of Jesus. Since the founding of Living Water International in 1990, we’ve heard numerous stories of communities being transformed. The “transforming power of water and the Word” has been a resounding theme over the years, and there is no one formula or recipe for God’s activity. He is creative and unlimited in how He does it, and in many cases, we are amazed and surprised at His wondrous works.
Power of Reproducing Life
One of my mentors used to emphasize that the normal Christian life is about the reproducing life of the Lord Jesus, in and through the redeemed humanity of every forgiven sinner. An important lesson we are learning in the Orality movement is the power of simplicity and reproducibility. It’s about getting back to how the gospel spread so rapidly in the Early Church, and how it’s spreading now in the more communal, relational, oral cultures. The Holy Spirit will use ordinary, simple people who hear, respond, and share the Word of God. His Word is powerful to save and transform lives. The message is more important than the messenger, and each of us can participate in the expansion of His Kingdom by telling our story and His Story.
Sometimes people hear these remarkable stories of what God is doing around the world and think — that could never happen here. That reminds me of a quote from A. W. Tozer, when he said, “Anything God has ever done at any time, He can do now. Anything He has ever done anywhere; He can do here. And anything He has ever done through anyone; He can do through you.” That should certainly be an encouragement to all of us who are followers of Jesus. We are all indwelt by His life, temples of the Holy Spirit, equipped and enabled for His divine presence and power.
A Transformed Life, Transforms Lives
When we think of how God has worked throughout history, often all it takes is something as simple as a story or a conversation that transforms a life. A transformed life can transform other lives, even families and communities. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for some sweeping movement of God. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. His provision for fulness of life in Christ is available to all who come to and believe in Him. In fact, He says that if we do so, out of our hearts (our innermost being) will flow rivers of Living Water. He was speaking of the Holy Spirit and His divine activity.
The Next Spiritual Awakening?
A good number of those who lived through and experienced the Asbury Revival and Jesus Revolution of the late 1960s and early 1970s are seeing many parallels with what is going on in the world today. There are probably more people praying for revival and spiritual awakening now than any other time in history. More people are also seeking answers, looking for solutions, and open to the Lord than ever before. The prophet Joel spoke of a time when the Lord would pour out His Spirit on all humanity. Perhaps we are on the verge of the next global spiritual awakening. There are many signs that we could be in that season of His Kingdom coming on earth as it is in heaven. We can pray, believe and act on His Word in these times of great needs and opportunities.