BRUSSELS, BELGIUM (ANS June 21, 2016)— 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 our way back to the United States.
For all of us, it was a time of shock and, for our LWI team, a deep feeling of gratefulness to God that we had survived. The deadly attacks that ripped through Brussels’ airport and a metro station, killed 32 people, including three dead attackers, making the total number of dead was 35. More than300 people were also injured in the blasts.
At the airport, there was lots of panic and chaos, and it was amazing to observe all the different kinds of reactions among the thousands of passengers, airline and airport personnel, security officers and others. After an emergency evacuation from the terminals to the tarmac, we were loaded on buses and taken to a safe place, which in our case was a hanger nearby.
After getting settled into the hanger, and clustering in a warm spot with a couple dozen other travelers, I said to one of my LWI co-workers, “Rob, this reminds me of that story about how Jesus calmed the storm.” We went on to discuss the story and how Jesus can still bring calmness during our times of trouble, problems, difficulties or crises. We all face storms in life. Well, those comments opened up opportunities to share more with some of the people clustered in that part of the hanger.
There are many righteous acts of God taking place around the world today. Actually, these are the most exciting times to be a part of God’s redemptive activities around the world. One of the most transforming works of God today is something called the Orality Movement. In fact, missiologists say that Orality is among the top five trends in the Global Church and Mission movements. More people are coming to Christ now through Orality-based methods and practices than anything else.
Orality is a new term to many, especially in the Western World and North America. The Orality Movement is not so much a new movement, but a rediscovery of the most effective ways that people have learned and communicated from the beginning of time. It’s how the Gospel spread throughout the entire populated world in the first century, before the invention of radio, TV, the Internet or the printing press. When we think about the most effective ways and means of communicating the Good News of Jesus and making disciples, we have no better example than the Lord Jesus Himself. How did He do it? He used stories or parables, He asked questions, He created relationships and community, in ways that were reproduced for 1,500 years, until the invention of the moveable type printing press. Then the Church became more dependent on print or text-based material, and for the most part, neglected the most effective Oral methods of communication and instruction.
We often say that Orality is better experienced, than explained. So, in our training, we focus on demonstration, participation and explanation – usually in that order.
An important story often used in Orality Training is from Mark 4 where Jesus “Calms the Storm.” Jesus had been teaching a large crowd of people all day on the shore of the Sea of Galilee. At the end of the day, when evening came, He said to His disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” Leaving the crowd behind, the disciples took Him along, just as He was in the boat. There were also other boats with him. A furious storm came up, and the wind and waves were so strong that the boat was about to capsize.
Jesus was in the back of the boat, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples went to Jesus, woke Him up and said, “Teacher, don’t you care that we are about to drown?” Jesus got up, rebuked the wind, spoke to the waves, and said, “Quiet, be still.” The wind died down and it was completely calm. Jesus said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Where is your faith?” The disciples were amazed and terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him?” That’s a true story from the Word of God.
Consider what we can learn from this story. When Jesus said, “Let’s go to the other side of the lake,” we have an example of how God gives guidance, direction and instruction. How about the way the disciples responded to Jesus’ instruction to go to the other side of the lake? The disciples didn’t hesitate, have a committee meeting or a focus group. They immediately responded to the words of Jesus. So, we have an example of obedience.
Think about what we can learn about the storms of life. We all face these storms in our lives — problems, difficulties and crisis situations. Can Jesus still bring calmness during our storms of life? What can we learn from this story about the uniqueness of Jesus? He was sleeping in the back of the boat. If you had been teaching a large crowd all day, you would probably be tired and sleepy. So, we learn something of His humanity. Yet, He took authority over nature, so we learn about His deity. He was never ever less than God, but lived as though He was never more than man. He was man, as He as God, intended man to be. He was the kind of man that would let God, be God, in action through His humanity.
I was conducting an Orality Training Workshop in Eastern Zimbabwe last year. While discussing this story, a lady asked a question about what we could learn from the question that the disciples asked each other, “Who is this man, that even the wind and waves obey Him?” She said, “Didn’t they already know who He was; they were His followers?” After much reflection and discussion, the group came to the conclusion that even though they knew who He was, that even His followers are on a continuous journey of discovering the greatness and majesty of the Lord.
I was recently seated on an airplane by a lady named Paula, flying from Mexico City to Houston. After greetings and casual conversation, she asked about what I had been doing in Mexico. So, after sharing a little about Living Water International, I basically said we help with clean water solutions and help people to become followers of Jesus. She began to tell me about her church experience and how disappointed she has become with the Church world. That opened the door for me to explain the difference in religion and a personal relationship with the Living God.
I had already shared a little with Paula about the Orality Training I had been doing in Mexico, and what we do all over the world. So I took the opportunity to share with her one of the stories we use in our Orality Training. I asked her if she knew about the story of the Samaritan women at the well, from John 4 in the New Testament. She had never heard of it. So, I told her the story and we discussed what Jesus meant by Living Water and how this woman’s life was transformed. Then I told her that many people’s lives have been changed by encountering Jesus of Nazareth. I briefly talked with her about Nicodemus from John 3. She had never heard of him either.
As I told her those stories, I noticed that she was captivated, her eyes were fixed on my eyes, which had not been the case in our earlier conversation. Because of the interest she showed, I went on to explain that she didn’t have to be in a church building, or go through some religious ritual, but that God is present with us, that we can call on Him at any time and in any place. I briefly shared from Romans 8 about confessing, believing and calling on the Lord. I’ve discovered over the years that there are many people like Paula, who have receptive hearts and are open to hear about Jesus, if approached in an appropriate manner.
For more information about Living Water International, or Orality Training opportunities, visitwww.water.cc/orality.
Photo captions: 1) Jesus calms the story. 2) Telling True Stories from the Word of God. 3) Making Known the Righteous Acts of God. 4) Jerry Wiles in Africa.
About the writer: 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].