In September 1975, in Memphis, Tennessee I heard Pat Zondervan deliver a message in a seminary chapel service. It was an eight point message about the characteristics of the Palm Tree, from Psalms 92:12-14. He compared the Palm Tree to the believer’s life in Christ. One of the points he made was how the fruit of the Palm Tree is sweeter with age, and how the righteous will still bear fruit in old age. That’s good news for all of us who were born during the baby boom generation, and earlier. The better news is that we are made righteous through our union with Christ.
Seek out those with Godly Wisdom
One of the great blessings in my own growth and relationship with the Lord has been getting to know followers of Jesus who have walked with Him for many years. A number of them have stayed active in ministry and mission work into their 80s, 90s and beyond. As a young seminary student I came across Proverbs 13:20, which says, “Whoever walks with the wise will become wise, ….” I begin to pray that the Lord would allow me to get to know and spend time with men and women who have godly wisdom. The Lord has been faithful to answer that prayer in many ways over the years.
4 to 14 Window Movement
While it is encouraging how God has used and is using many in their more mature years, many movements and spiritual awakenings have been and are being lead by young people, students and children. The 4 to 14 Window Movement (https://414movement.com) is a current example, where children pray and share their faith with great boldness and passion. Many of the revivals and renewal movements have started on college and university campuses.
In our Orality strategies with Living Water International and others, we’ve seen how children as young as six or seven years old learn and tell Bible stories. Some places around the world women are not given the opportunity to fully participate in the life of the church or community of faith. One of the important lessons that comes out and in emphasized in our Orality Training is the concept of worth and value in the Kingdom of God. From a set of Bible stories we see how God cares about and uses women, children, social outcasts, demon-possessed, blind people and others.
Equipping and Mobilizing Women and Children
Pastors and church leaders who participate in Orality Training observe how women, who have never had the opportunity to go to school or learn to read, learn and tell Bible stories with great passion. They often catch a vision of how they can equip and mobilize women and children as effective communicators of the gospel and disciple makers. It actually getting back the ways the gospel spread throughout the entire populated world in the First Century. It’s not about levels of education or socio-economic status, but about available vessels. It’s about ordinary people who become followers of Jesus are willing to live out and share His life with others. We like to emphasize that the Lord is an equal opportunity employer.
Matters of Relationship and Availability
In relation to our growth and fruit bearing, some mistakenly think it’s about our knowledge or ability. One of my former pastors, Dr. Adrian Rogers, use to say, “It’s not as much about your scholarship, as it is about your relationship. And, it’s not as much about your ability, as it is about your availability that really matters.” Over the years we’ve seen how new believers begin to immediately share their faith and see other come the Lord. The grow faster as they share, give and serve others. There is a principle that whatever we pour into the lives of others, will come back into our own.
Learn a Little, Practice a Lot, Implement Immediately
One of the important features that makes Orality Training and Methods so powerful is the concept of – learn a little, practice a lot, and implement immediately. When a person hears, understands and responds to the gospel of Jesus, they have something to share with others. In Scripture we observe that when a person ha an encounter with the Living Lord, they tell their story and others are impacted.
Major W. Ian Thomas, founder of Torchbearers International, had a significant influence on my life and many others. He use to emphasize that – it’s the reproducing life of the Lord Jesus in and through the redeemed humanity of every forgiven sinner that produces much fruit. It was profound transformation in my own life when the truth of Gal. 2:20 (Not I, but Christ) living in me became a reality. That realization should give every believer passion for sharing Him with others.
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].