“Curiosity is the wick in the candle of learning,” so said William Arthur Ward, one of America’s most quoted writers. Albert Einstein said, “I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” Unfortunately, many people lose that curiosity and thirst for knowledge as they grow older. One of the things we notice about most young children is that they have a healthy curiosity and ask a lot of questions. They learn fast because of their curiosity and thirst for knowledge.
It is often said that we don’t know what we don’t know, and sadly, many people have little interest or curiosity in discovering what it is that they don’t know. However, the good news is that curiosity can be cultivated and developed, in ourselves and others. Scripture tells us we should let our speech be with grace, seasoned with salt. Salt does create thirst, but it can also irritate or offend. Jesus said that, as His followers, we are the salt of the earth and the light of the world. We are to let our light shine that others may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven.
Joy of Serving the Thirsty
One of the great joys of working with Living Water International is serving and working among the neediest people on earth, physically and spiritually. People who have curiosity and thirst for knowledge will learn faster than those who think they know all they need to know. Not only is there thirst for physical water, but a deep interest and curiosity about spiritual matters. It is the Living Water that Jesus gives that satisfies our deepest thirst.
Equipped for Reproducing Impact
We learn a lot from the people who participate in our Orality Training programs. It is exciting to see people come alive with new life and joy to learn and share God’s truth with others. Oral strategies give them greater confidence to simply ask questions and tell stories that can transform lives. It is also an effective method of hiding the Word of God in our hearts. Followers of Jesus can be equipped with just what is in their heads and hearts, that can be reproduced in the heads and hearts of others. With adequate Orality Training, people can go anywhere, and communicate the Good Story of Jesus to every person and make disciples among all people groups.
Excitement of Sharing Christ
A lady in a Central American country, who participated in one of LWI’s Orality Training Workshops, told us she has never learned to read or write. She went on to say that she can now share her faith with her family and others in her community. An older gentleman in his late 80s, who attended an Orality Training in the United States said, “I wish I had learned this 70 years ago.” The training was truly transformational for him, and he began to have a new passion for sharing Christ with others and using the methods in his Bible teaching. He found that it increased his effectiveness for engaging people in conversation, communicating spiritual truth and assisting others on their journey of following Jesus.
Disciple Making Movements
In many places, children and youth are leading movements to Christ. Biblical storytelling and other oral art forms are accelerating these movements. Youth movements in Africa, Asia and Latin America are good examples, where song, dance, and drama and other participatory learning methods are key factors. We often hear reports where the gospel is spreading, and disciple making movements are rapidly reproducing among oral cultures. Many may have some Scripture in their heart language, but they still communicate, learn and process information better through oral methods.
Power of Seed Sowing
It is encouraging to know that increasing numbers of people these days are open to have spiritual conversations. Being prepared to simply ask questions and tell stories can be used by the Lord to change and save lives. When we faithfully reach out to show and share the love of Christ, we can expect to connect with a certain percentage of people who are open to the gospel and have fertile hearts. They have a certain amount of curiosity and interest to listen. The Apostle Peter said we should always be ready to give an answer for the hope that is within us. We should also be prepared to sow the seed of God’s Word and trust Him for the results. Sometimes we just sow a seed, at other times we water a seed that someone else has sown, and occasionally we may reap a harvest, but it is God who gives the increase.
There are all kinds of thirst and we find thirsty people everywhere. In the physical realm, when people do not have clean, safe water, they drink whatever is available. In some countries where we serve, we hear stories of the desperate measures people take to satisfy their thirst for water. Children sometimes resort to eating dirt or sucking on tree limbs just to get some moisture. A young man who escaped from being a child soldier in an African country shared some of his experiences with me. While holding a 16-ounce water bottle in his hands, he told me he could make it last four days. Physical thirst is not a bad thing, as it lets us know that we have a need, an indicator that our bodies need water. Likewise, becoming aware of our need for spiritual water is also a good thing.
Thirst for Knowledge
Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, for they will be filled.” It is sad when people do not have a spiritual or intellectual thirst. Sadly, many people are content with what they know, and the way they are, and have no real desire for change or growth. Many people are in their comfort zones and resist change. It often takes some crisis or difficulty to wake us up and realize our need for the Lord.
Experiencing the Love of Jesus
We often observe when people experience a demonstration of the love and grace of God, it creates thirst and curiosity to hear and know more. For example, in some communities a new water well, hygiene training and sanitation can cause people to ask why we do what we do. They become curious and interested in hearing about the love of Jesus.
Power of Stories and Questions
It is encouraging how stories communicate and connect with people all over the world. Someone has said that we are wired for stories. A missionary/evangelist and cross-cultural church planter in Ethiopia said, “We used to go into communities and pass out tracts and preach, and the people wanted to run us out of their communities. But now, after receiving the Bible Storying // Orality Training, we go and make friends, ask questions, and tell stories, and the people want to follow Jesus.”
Questions can Transform
On the topic of asking the right questions, I have learned a lot from Bobb Biehl and Bob Tiede, who have amazing skills in the use of questions. Team building, relationships and communication skills, professional development and personal growth are important areas where these men have lots of wisdom we can learn from.
God is doing an incredible work in the world today. During these times of crisis, many more people are becoming curious, asking the right questions, and becoming aware of their need for something or someone outside themselves. These are strategic times for us to show and share the love of Christ with the people we encounter every day.
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].