Blogs & Opinion

Music & Drama in Tanzania

Harvest season (June-August) is when ngoma (traditional music, dance, and storytelling) is danced, people have time on their hands and a little extra money in their pockets. It’s the best time to visit. We shared stories, studied the Bible together and cre...

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Getting Resources to the Least Reached

I’m shocked and saddened when I hear that less than 1/100 of .1% (which equates to .0001) of the world’s annual charitable giving goes to places in the world needing the gospel the most.Did you hear that?

Sadder and Sadder

Stop! What’s that?” Our non-Christian translator, Edward, held up his hand. His face was pale, as we sat under the mango tree outside our training room translating stories from the Passion Week. We all listened. We heard one of our trainers calling one of o...

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The Speaking Word

God spoke the world into existence. Everything that we see, He created by His Word, filling the void of darkness with light and abundant life. In Exodus 20, God spoke again directly to Moses on Mount Sinai. With His Word and with His hand, he gave to Israe...

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Igniting New Albanian Worship Music

Heart Sounds International (HSI) is a ministry of OM Arts that helps churches all around the world create new worship songs, using their own local expressions of music and arts. In April, a team of five traveled to Kosovo to hold songwriting workshops for l...

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Sharing Spiritual Light With Those Who Cannot See

Raahithya is a 32-year-old young man from India who is continually hungry to know more about God. Employed at a local bank, he is the only Christian in his family.Two years ago, Raahithya came across a TWR India radio program. This is his story: "I rea...

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What’s Culture Got to Do with It?

Have you ever done something completely unfamiliar to you? Perhaps you’ve traveled to a country you’ve never been before, moved to another city, or started a new job. Do you remember that initial feeling of unease or discomfort you felt?

A New Day Dawns for the Deaf

Bible translation has been around for centuries, with missionaries venturing out into people groups near and far to make God’s Word accessible. As we steadily count down the number of languages left without Scripture, a people group seems to have gone overl...

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It was a dark and stormy night…

How many of our Halloween stories begin this way? Even though many people tell such stories for fun at Halloween, for others fear characterizes their daily lives. Voodoo practitioners are not myths or stories in West Africa–they are all too real. Jesus rec...

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Discovering God’s Truth Through Story

Have you ever had one of those moments in which you get so excited about discovering a new truth that it causes you to look at things entirely differently? Your pulse quickens, your eyes light up and something that seemed so distant and non-personal suddenl...

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The Power of the Family of God

A woman listens as another sings. Tears flood her eyes. This is the first time that she has attended a prayer meeting that has ended with music ethnically her own and not borrowed from another language. She only knows of perhaps 60-70 believers in her coun...

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“Faith Comes Through Hearing” and Understanding

Take a moment to reflect on the last lecture or sermon that captivated your imagination, resonated with you in a meaningful way, and ultimately transformed your thinking. What elements of this particular talk especially impacted you?

Carlos Found a Father

As a young Colombian boy, Carlos left his family and moved to the north. There he learned how to grow and make cocaine and became deeply involved in drug dealing. Every day, Carlos got more responsibilities. Eventually, he started his own farm and made lots...

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Are orality methods useful in literate contexts?

In a Western society, literacy is often assumed and even taken for granted. But the beauty of orality methods for communication can tend to be lost in Western contexts — including with how we present the Gospel. Orality is essentially the reliance on non-wr...

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Witness to New Beautiful Worship

Three years ago, a team from HSI and an American church visited South Asia to survey the worship life of churches and make plans for a songwriting and recording project with local musicians and pastors. After many years of prayer and preparation, this proje...

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3 Ways to Share Jesus Christ With Your Community

Have you ever had one of those moments where you know you should share Christ with someone but you aren’t sure how? Maybe you were in line at the grocery store and the cashier told you their day wasn’t going well. Perhaps you were at a friend’s house for di...

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Contagious, Passionate Disciples, Where are They?

Contagious, passionate followers of Jesus! Have you ever met one? You know it when you do. Recently one of our pioneering SIU partners from Nepal came through town to visit our team. He is a soft-spoken, humble “Man of Peace” who smiles often. The light of ...

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Experiencing God Among the Unreached

The road seemed to go nowhere“Tall, African bush almost towered above us,” Michael reported from a story movement trip in Africa. “I looked around and all I could see was grass-carpeted vast land dotted with flat-topped trees. We had covered quite a dis...

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Flipping the Leadership Model “Upside-Down”

One of the most disheartening things I’ve seen in Western missions is leadership that continues to drive an attitude of “I know all the answers” and “I need to be the one making the decisions” and “Nothing happens without my being there, providing my input....

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Biblical Content for a Movement

My first two visits to a small group that was trying to multiply disciples in a diverse international city were filled with anticipation. My heart thrilled to see them organize their time into looking back for worship, encouragement, celebration and account...

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Orality Missiology: Lessons from the Original Jesus Movement

Avery Willis and Henry Blackaby popularized the phrase “On Mission with God” several years ago through their books and other resource materials by that title. It has been a delight and tremendous blessing to have known and benefited from both of their lives...

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Community Transformation in Tanzania

During my time in Tanzania in June, I went back to Vunde, a small village in the Tanga region, where I had worked earlier this year. I facilitated a 4-day class called WASH that teaches about water, sanitation and hygiene, using Bible stories as examples fo...

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Becoming Fishers of Men

And Jesus said to them, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” Matthew 4:19 One of the most rewarding parts of working with a culture is when you witness an amazing new connection of that culture and the Gospel.

A Skeptic Starts A Strong Movement of Disciple Making

A pastor named Roba came to Agali and expressed serious doubts that existing churches could change to become disciple making movements.  Agali did not argue but challenged Roba to start the process in his community. Roba took the challenge and went to his c...

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Reproducibility DNA

While interviewing candidates for missionary service, one missionary couple came through who were church planting candidates for a mega-city in Northeast U.S. After getting to know each other a bit, I asked, "What are you going to do differently to address ...

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A Clear Picture of Purpose

Have you ever seen an “autostereogram”? It’s a picture that initially looks like a mess of patterned colors and designs until you stare at it for a while. Gradually, a “hidden 3D image” becomes visible. Pretty neat! Jesus discussed with His disciples His re...

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Orality In the Academy and Beyond

Increasing numbers of missionaries, mission executives, pastors, and cross-cultural church planters are coming to an awareness and recognition that the Orality Movement is transformational in our time. In fact, some now acknowledge that Orality is changing ...

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Teaching and Equipping Christians in the MENA

Take a moment to reflect on the last lecture or sermon that captivated your imagination, resonated with you in a meaningful way, and ultimately transformed your thinking. What elements of this particular talk especially impacted you?

Connecting for Change: Worth and Value in the Kingdom of God

There is a lot of talk these days about inequality and the need for more fairness and equality. People often get the idea that their worth or value is based on their salary, possessions, title or position in an organization or society. However, God’s Kingdo...

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Captivating Oral Cultures Through Story

What 5 things do people need to know? Jerry Wiles and Living Waters International provide a brief explanation why stories are so powerful at providing these answers.

https://vimeo.com/67598709
Orality Missiology: Being “On Mission with God”

Avery Willis and Henry Blackaby popularized the phrase “On Mission with God” several years ago through their books and other resource materials by that title. It has been a delight and tremendous blessing to have known and benefited from both of their lives...

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Heart Music

Heart music is amazingly powerful and a core concept of multicultural worship. So what is it? The lights went out in the middle of the rehearsal. It was a power cut in Nepal and I was playing the Himalayan lute in a community song and dance troupe. As cand...

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For the Kingdom of God Belongs to those…

Our Lord, Jesus, loves the heart attitude and faith of a child. In fact, He addresses it directly in one of the stories found in the Gospel of Mark. For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children or have childlike faith. I so would hav...

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Orality Missiology: A Journey of Saving Lives and Changing Destinies

A little more than 25 years ago I got to know a service station attendant and shared the Gospel with him. He told me about someone giving him a Bible a few years earlier. However, he had never read it, but began reading it and started sharing the Gospel wit...

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Sheep Listen to Their Shepherd

Sheep naturally herd, meaning that keeping a flock of sheep together is pretty manageable. However, when sheep feel threatened, they have one defense: huddle together and run away. The only way a shepherd can get a sheep to go where he wants is for him to g...

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How Long? A Parable of Persistence

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up. He said: “In a certain town there was a judge who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. And there was a widow in that town who kept coming to him ...

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Praise Is Rising

Praise is rising! This is the message that kept coming to the Heart Sounds International team, even as they prepared to travel to Tanzania. The group felt that they should continue in this attitude of praise, and that they would be breaking up ground for se...

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Orality Missiology: The Power of Image, Narrative and Community

In the Fall of 1975, in Memphis, Tennessee, I heard a message delivered by the late Pat Zondervan. I recently spoke on the content of Mr. Zondervan’s very memorable speech, which was based on the uniqueness and attributes of the Palm Tree, from Psalm 92:12,...

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Orality Missiology: The Next Big Thing in Completing the Great Commission

In many cases we need to define both Orality and Missiology. Orality is an ancient phenomenon that continues to the present. It is a reliance on spoken, or non-written communication and learning methods. Before writing was developed, cultures passed along t...

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Finding New Ways to Pray

"Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” Heart Sounds International (HSI), works with artistic people who create new indigenous worship music. This creativity often transfers into ...

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Capturing New Songs

Over the decades, the Great Commission mandate has resulted in various calls for involvement. OM’s Heart Sounds International adds its own slight variation: “to see vibrant worshiping communities of Jesus-followers planted.”

To Translate or Not to Translate: The Place of the Old Testament in Missionary Strategy

For the last twenty seven years I have belonged to an organisation called Wycliffe Bible Translators. During that time, I have often found myself having to explain that we do far more than translate the Bible. Wycliffe staff are involved in linguistic resea...

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Seeking and Finding Commonalities

Common ground, common sense and common courtesy are pretty important these days. In many ways and in many places, they seem to be in short supply. Having traveled, served and ministered in many countries and in diverse cultures, I've noticed that there are ...

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God Works Through Numerous Art Forms

It was with great pleasure that HSI entered into its first project last autumn within a particular East Asian region. Our focus was to offer a songwriting workshop and make a recording of ten previously composed worship songs. In addition, the team offered...

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Orality: Storytelling and Millennial Engagement

I grew up in the South where sweet tea and gossip on the front porch were anchors. The one thing you can bank on in the south is stories grow with each passing year. Hunting stories, Christmas stories, birthday stories, and the list goes on.

New Wine in New Wineskins

One of our biggest challenges here in the western world, especially in our ministry outreach efforts, is doing the same thing over and over again, yet expecting different results. Then when we see limited to no new impact from our same old efforts, we ponde...

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Homeless. Leper. Blind. Worthless.

These are the words Marion lived with most of her life. Pain and darkness had been her constant companions—until the day she heard about Jesus and His love for her. The top five changes when people are able to hear God’s Word for themselves are…

A Costly Presence

God is the Great Storyteller. With grand artistry, He brings forth a beautiful world in a spectacular universe. As the culmination of His creativity, He fashions Adam and Eve. He could have shielded them from Satan’s temptations, warding off evil, suffering...

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Mining for Local Art Gems in the Philippines

We were a team of almost 20 people (Filipino and American), representing multiple organisations and a variety of art disciplines: music, dance, visual art, photography, audio recording, drama, storytelling, jewelry-making, 3D paper crafts and even quilling....

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Orality: Intergenerational and Cross Cultural

After 30 long hours of travel they arrived in the remote village deep in India. Cloaked in a headscarf a young woman shared the story of the Woman at the Well. Jesus’ prophetic words to the Samaritan woman left the crowd speechless. That storyteller was me.

Connecting Your Digital Footprint to the World’s 5 Billion Oral Learners

Twenty years ago the idea of Digital Orality was reserved to a few cutting edge ideas like solar powered cassette players. But now, nearly every living person on the planet is within digital reach. With a solid understanding of how orality works and is then...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AxTuxSVOo2U
How The Bible Heals People

Marion lived on the streets with a terrible case of leprosy. The disease had left her totally blind, unable to work, and in severe pain. She resorted to begging to make ends meet. Her community told her she was worthless – and she believed it.

5 Lessons Learned While Living on Mission

The American culture trains us to be devastatingly independent with a front-runner, do it your own way approach. The Lord, however, desires us to humble ourselves to be willing to learn from each other and those who have gone before us. Here are five import...

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A Good Story in the Making

Everyone loves a good story.Jesus knew it. He didn’t engage in debates to convince people to believe in God. Instead, He told stories about people whose lives were changed-so they could listen and identify, without feeling confronted and condemned. He k...

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Captivating Learners through the Art of Digital Storytelling

Take a moment to reflect on the last lecture or sermon that captivated your imagination, resonated with you in a meaningful way, and ultimately transformed your thinking. What elements of this particular talk especially impacted you?

The only question left…

Faith Comes By Hearing has Bible recordings in 1,082 languages spoken by 6 billion people in 2017. Over 454 million people in virtually every country have been reached through their wide range of programs. Watch this inspiring video to discover why they do...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ntIgveezo6U
Impacting the Youth Through Music

In January, Heart Sounds International sent a team of five to South Asia to work alongside the longest established Christian rock band. For 18 years, this group of men has impacted the lives of youth through its music, inspiring hundreds to become musicians...

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The Return of the Prodigal

In oral cultures as we train and equip indigenous grassroots leaders to share the Bible orally, we encounter young men who have experienced the loss of a father. Living in remote communities, under difficult conditions, their families have seen all types of...

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Overcoming Obstacles by Recording Scripture

I believe in Bible translation. I’m also passionate about working hard to see those translations recorded because recording Scripture is powerful. It is able to overcome the obstacles that often hinder the effectiveness of God’s Word in print alone.

The Continuing and Growing Learning Journey in the Orality Movement

In a recent Orality Consultation and Advanced Training in East Africa, I was once again reminded of the power of networks and collaborative learning. The focus of this training was on developing leaders for Oral Cultures, in ways that would be reproducible ...

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I Must Multiply

We met him in Zimbabwe in October of 2012. Having no interest in his brother Nhamo’s Christianity, John poured his passion into his job as a big game-hunting guide. Nhamo told our training team, “I keep telling John he’s been caught in Jesus’s net-he just d...

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I am an oral learner!

For the last few years, I have been studying orality. This issue of orality is one of the main obstacles to the spread of the Christian faith to the nations. Too often over the last century, those of us in the West teach about our faith using the written Bi...

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Remember to Expect the Unexpected

Sometimes things don’t go as planned. Sometimes when what has been prayed over and carefully prepared begins, it becomes messy, tangled, and unpleasant. If this is true anywhere, it is true in Africa. But, messy, tangled, and unpleasant is not always disast...

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Tell Me More Stories!

They live tucked away in a rugged mountain region where roads are merely mule tracks and footpaths that wind endlessly around the outer slopes of the Himalayas. Snowbound in their villages for up to four months a year, they must live entirely on what they’v...

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Loving across languages

Love is in the air… at least, it is in the grocery store where I can venture past an aisle of chocolates and breeze through balloons and roses on my way to the deli. I’m not seeing very many expressions of love on social media, though. We must not take our...

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Why People of Every Tongue?

As Americans, we all speak English and most of us do not travel beyond our borders. So the need to understand people of different nationalities, for me, was minimal... until the last few years when many immigrants came to Texas, where I live. Now my husband...

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One – Moses’ Story

One moment in time. One frustrated pastor. One Bible Story. This is where one would think the story begins, but not quite. Let’s go back 10 years to a village in South Sudan.

Connecting for Change: The Multi-Faceted Aspects of the Orality Movement

I first came across the book “Oral Communication of the Scriptures: Insights from African Oral Art,” by Herbert Klem, and started hearing about Orality, Oral Cultures and Oral Learners back in the 1980s. It was a seemingly obscure conversation among a few m...

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The Power of “Story”

Since the majority of the world’s storytelling people have never been introduced to Jesus in a way they can relate and respond to, SIU works and trains local Christians among these people how to tell the life-transforming stories of the Bible to their famil...

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Deaf ministry encouraged by growth

Something big is happening at Deaf Bible Society. They started as a project under Faith Comes By Hearing years ago, and have grown remarkably into a ministry all their own since then. JR Bucklew, President of the Deaf Bible Society, explains, “Our organiza...

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A Mom With A Mission

Meet Sharon—wife and busy mother of one high- schooler and one college student—from north central Texas. So how did one week in Orlando, Florida become, as she says, “one of the greatest gifts in her life”? Sharon and her husband were in search of new ways ...

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Orality in Business

While attending a very high level, exclusive leadership training, we were taken to the largest independent advertising agency in the U.S. There is a catwalk that is prominently suspended in the middle of the open stairwell where the company news is shared. ...

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Connecting for Change: Communicating Truth by All Means, Anywhere, Anytime

I had a three-hour flight between two African countries, and I was seated by two ladies from East Asia. I was reading my New Testament and one of the ladies asked me, “Is that a dictionary?” I replied, “No, it’s a New Testament.” She asked, “What is a New T...

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New Indigenous Worship Recording

It was with great pleasure that HSI entered into its first project last autumn within a particular East Asian region. Our focus was to offer a songwriting workshop and make a recording of ten previously composed worship songs. In addition, the team offered...

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Sharing stories, sharing the Gospel

How come it’s so hard to talk about Jesus with strangers? Well, the truth is, unless we’re relating on a deeper level, there’s no way to convey the deep transformational power of the Gospel in an impactful way.

Why They Stay Unreached

They go by a variety of labels – the unreached, the unengaged, UPGs, or UUPGs. If you spend more than five minutes with a missionary, you’ll hear some variation of these terms over and over again. Unreached people groups are the rallying cry for missions ...

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The Importance of Sound

Sounds have a profound impact on people. Audio engineers play a crucial role in Heart Sounds International because they capture the locals combining their indigenous sounds with songs steeped in scripture. In the past several months, audio engineers have be...

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More Than Just Stories

More and more missionaries around the world are learning just how valuable orality method is when working with oral people groups. As we learn more about orality, some mission groups like Living Water International are finding applications that minister to ...

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What Language Does God Speak?

Morgan Jackson, director of Faith Comes By Hearing, remembers the day some years ago when he visited a Konkomba village in Ghana. His organization partners with Bible translators to produce audio recordings of Scripture, and he asked the Konkomba leaders if...

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Dancing and Singing to the Lord

The Fiji Men’s Rugby team, against all odds, won the first ever Olympic Gold for their country in a Rugby sporting venue, which Fiji has not participated in since the 1924 Summer Olympic Games held in Paris.

Where do beads come from?

Where do beads come from? Not the question I was expecting to be asked. Little did I know that such a seemingly simple question was to be the pivotal point at which biblical knowledge became spiritual freedom. Our HSI team was in north-eastern Tanzania wher...

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Connecting for Change: The Orality Movement – More than Storytelling

At about 8 am on Tuesday morning, March 22, 2016, at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, a terrorist bombing took place. Two Living Water International (LWI) co-workers and I had just landed a couple of hours earlier, en-route from Liberia, West Africa, on ou...

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People are in love with audio Scripture

The audio version of our New Testament, I believe, has brought new hope to our people because I know that our people are not very good in reading. It’s difficult to find someone who has read through the Mwaghavul New Testament, although it has been there f...

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A God who overcomes obstacles

As we went around the circle introducing ourselves, it was clear that God had given the believers a desire for evangelism. These North African believers were musicians who wanted to use their gifts to share the Good News with a neighbouring, unreached peopl...

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Connecting for Change: The Phenomena of Paradigm Shifts

A modern phenomena that we often hear about these days is something called a “Paradigm Shift.” In 1962, Thomas Kuhn, an American physicist, historian and philosopher introduced the term “Paradigm Shift.” While he used the term in the context of scientific a...

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Avoiding the Common Mistake of “Comparison”

Why, when we receive a financial or other type of material gift do we compare it to what one of our friends or family members might have received? The thought or action of “comparison” is such a mistake and is brought about by selfish greed, not a web you ...

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Connecting for Change: Making Known the Righteous Acts of God

At about 8 am on Tuesday morning, March 22, 2016, at the airport in Brussels, Belgium, a terrorist bombing took place. Two Living Water International (LWI) co-workers and I had just landed a couple of hours earlier, en-route from Liberia, West Africa, on ou...

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Connecting for Change — Experiencing Chance Encounters

What we might think of as chance encounters, may be better described as God’s redemptive connections. Years ago I came across a small booklet titled “There are no accidents with God.” Another author who has had a significant influence in my life is DeVern F...

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Is Orality (the use of oral methods) a solid Biblical approach?

Matthew says that everywhere Jesus went he told stories.  Sitting on a cold jail house floor with 14 men around me, I gave them three verses on 'forgiveness' but they could not remember the first one.  I then switched to telling the story of Joseph, multi-c...

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Making audio scriptures in Tanzania

The majority of people in the world belong to oral cultures. For them, faith literally comes by hearing. With this in mind, one of the tools we use to share Scripture with these communities is audio recordings of Bible stories! So how does Scripture go from...

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Elements of a Strategy Change

Yankelovich, a research company, provided the world with a study that said the average American was exposed to 5,000 advertising messages every day. Common sense says that we cannot process that much input. A study in 2014 by Media Dynamics, Inc., confirmed...

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Why Prayer Support is Essential

While I was leading a Bible Storying session on spiritual warfare, one woman spoke up and said, “I don’t have to worry about spiritual warfare. I don’t witness, so Satan leaves me alone.” What blessings this lady was missing in seeing others have a personal...

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Orality: The Next Wave of Mission Advance (Revisited)

The Orality Movement has strong roots. The past ten years have been particularly strong. We were getting organized and I wrote the following news release, which Mission Frontiers picked up and ran for its January-February 2004 edition. For those new to the ...

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Connecting for Change: Changing in order to connect

HOUSTON, TX (ANS – October 7, 2015) – Why are things the way they are? Why are people the way they are, and why do they do what they do? These are vitally important questions that can be transformational and life changing when taken to heart. I personally n...

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Talking Up Orality

Your help is needed to put in a good word for orality, especially among the literate elite. Literates must take the responsibility of changing to relate to orals who cannot go the other way. Those who fall in the top 13% of American readerdom control publis...

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Connecting for Change: Questions that Matter Most

HOUSTON, TX (ANS – September 1, 2015) – Why are we doing what we are doing? What are we here for? How did this get started? What is the origin and history of some particular practice or custom? These are all great questions that can prompt important convers...

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How Orality Helps Develop Leaders

Last month I had the wonderful opportunity to train 27 believers as prayer-walkers. Now, I’m sure that most of the group were highly literate. However, they were to be trainers when they went back home.It was important to size up the people present and ...

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Accountability

Pastors occasionally connect with me about evangelism and discipleship for their church. It was great talking with a church planter / preacher in another state recently regarding his attempt to preach hoping to disciple his congregation. Together, we contra...

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Mission Summer Blitzes

Many followers of Jesus in the United States go on mission trips during the summer months. The majority drive into Mexico. However, an increasing number travel to help a career missionary as they serve among an unreached people group.

Stop! In the name of Love

The Supremes’ lead singer, Diana Ross, pleaded with her man not to leave her and go to another woman. The lyrics of that 1965 hit cried, “Stop! In the name of love before you break my heart. Baby baby, I’m aware of where you go / Each time you leave my door...

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