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 persecution and suffering. They have witnessed genocide, sickness, and destruction which took many fathers’ lives.
These leaders are now orphans (many having lost their fathers as young children) and as such are very receptive to the passages in the Bible that point to a coming reunion with their fathers and, ultimately, a reunion with our Heavenly Father in His Eternal Kingdom. The parable of the Prodigal Son, who returned to his father after a period of rebellion, excess, and disgrace, is repeatedly one of the stories most cherished, told, and retold by these indigenous leaders. One of our East Africa partners recently shared with us the following testimony:
The Lord led us to an area where we found a group of Pygmies. We shared the story of the Prodigal Son and asked them to repeat the story. Almost everybody was able to repeat the story correctly. When some guys from the group asked us to come again, we asked them if we could make a drama of the story next time, and they said “yes.” After creating a drama of the Prodigal Son story, 16 people from their group decided to follow Jesus, and among them eight decided to be baptized!
The use of Parables
The power of God’s parables and the Holy Spirit’s movement among His people is truly incredible to witness firsthand. I was brought to tears listening to these precious children of God telling me their stories and witnessing to the hope they have found in Jesus and their ability to share that love with non-believers. Like this East Africa leader’s testimony we hear many testimonies like this among leaders equipped by Scripture In Use’s Bridges training events in Africa, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
While attending these training events, I am often overcome with great joy in seeing leaders realize that their reconciliation with their Heavenly Father has been completed through Jesus’s gift of grace. And though they were once lost, they have been forgiven and found again!
If you have a moment, please look up and read in your Bible (or listen to an audio Bible) the parable of the Prodigal Son found in Luke 15:11-32. Spending time in God’s Word is a good thing for all of us, wherever we live!
As I have mentioned before, we often use the parables told by Jesus in our global Bridges training events. So let me ask you:
How do you see yourself in the parable of the Prodigal Son, and what does it mean to you? How can you use this story in your own family and community to share the hope we have in Christ?