A missionary friend has a parting statement, “Keep the faith — Just don’t keep it to yourself.” We often use that statement in our Orality Training programs, where we focus on “learn a little, practice a lot, implement immediately and tell the stories often.” We emphasize that it’s better to know a little, that you tell to a lot, than to know a lot, that you keep to yourself. Skills of Storytelling and the use of oral art forms equip and enable ordinary believers to effectively communicate truth and share our faith.
Power of Storytelling
An older gentleman in his 80s attended a Bible Storying // Orality Training Workshop. He shared how he has been a Sunday School teacher for more than 60 years. At the end of the training he said, “I wish someone had taught me this 70 years ago.” This same man had a doctor’s appointment where he was going to tell a lady the story of Nicodemus from John chapter 3. In his introductory comments, he told her he would like to tell her a story from the Bible about being born again. Before he could tell the story, the woman said, “Wait a minute, I need to be born again.” So, he shared the gospel with her, invited her to pray with him and she confessed her faith in Christ. The man later said, “I didn’t even get to tell her the story.”
Creativity of the Holy Spirit
Often just talking about the stories can open the door to sharing the message of Jesus. It’s evidence of the unlimited and creative ability of the Holy Spirit to work through us as we make ourselves available to Him. There are numerous ways of connecting with people to share our faith. When we are alert to the people around us, observe and watch for opportunities, we will definitely connect with people who need the Lord. I am often amazed and surprised at how open many people are and how the Lord works in those encounters.
Ministers of Reconciliation
As followers of Jesus, we are all ministers of reconciliation. It’s not a limited calling or something we need specialize training for. When we’ve had an encounter with the Living God, and know the Good News of Jesus, we have something to communicate. I remember sharing the Lord with a lady in a shopping mall several years ago. She was excited and told me that her husband had just come to the Lord six months earlier. She went on to say that he was unemployed, had time on his hands, and led six other people to Christ in those few months.
An Equal Opportunity Employer
In our training workshops we like to emphasize that God is an “equal opportunity employer” and is no respecter of persons. He will use any and all of us as we make ourselves available to Him and step out in faith. We really learn more about communicating our faith by doing it, than we do by hearing sermons and reading about it. Of course, sermons and Bible reading are important. However, unless we act upon the truth of God’s Word, it just remains head knowledge and produces little fruit.
My friend Lewis told about receiving a phone call that turned out to be a wrong number. Before hanging up, he said to the caller, “Wait a minute, maybe the Lord had you call this number for some special reason. Have you been thinking more about the Lord lately?” That exchange opened the opportunity for Lewis to share the Gospel and pray with the person. His testimony inspired me to begin to ask those kinds of questions to telemarketing people and wrong numbers. That practice has resulted in numerous individuals being witnessed to, and a good number receiving Christ over the phone.
By All Means, and In All Places
Offering to pray for people is an excellent way of engaging with and communicating the message of Jesus. Sometimes all it takes is a simple gesture of kindness or a word of encouragement to open a conversation about spiritual matters. Then the opportunity can present itself to bring Jesus into our conversations. The marketplace and places of business are filled with people who need the Lord. Just observing and noticing people can often result in divine encounters. We are often amazed and surprised at how receptive people are.
Prayer Opens Doors
“We are about to have prayer over our food. Is there anything we can pray about for you?” That is a comment we often make in restaurants that frequently results in spiritual conversations and many have come to the Lord by that simple method. It was during a slack time of day and a lady on the wait staff of a restaurant eagerly received the message of Jesus and confessed her faith in Him. She later said, “Why didn’t you come sooner. I feel so different. I wish I had done this years ago.”
When talking with a woman about the Lord, who obviously was confused and mixed up, I said to her, “It sounds like what you need is inner peace.” She lit up with joy and said, “Yes, that’s exactly what I need.” She was ready to call on the Lord to receive His forgiveness and peace.
God Uses Tracts, Do You?
Having spent many years in publishing and broadcasting ministry, I saw firsthand how the Lord can use many ways of communicating the truth of His Word. I once saw a quote, “God uses tracts, do you?” Certainly, God uses His Word written, as well as spoken, and a wide variety of orality-based methods and strategies. “By all means” is inclusive of the tools of the age and the tools of the ages. Orality actually has to do with the most effective ways that people have learned and communicate from the beginning of time. In the modern world, we have a wide variety of technological resources to communicate truth.
When we have a passion for the Lord and advancing His Kingdom, the Holy Spirit will direct us to the most appropriate methods. It’s by all means, and in all places, that God will work to communicate His truth through each of us when we make ourselves available to Him and act in faith.
Jerry Wiles is President Emeritus of Living Water International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: [email protected].