In many parts of the world, women and children are not seen at the same level in society as men. Actually, a number of regions where Living Water International has operations, children are not given names until they’re one or two years old.
Infant mortality rates are high because of disease, poverty and a lack of clean water. Parents often wait to see if they are going to live before naming their children.
God’s Choice for World Impact
Some of the important topics of discussion in our Orality Training Workshops are:
- Who does God choose to use in His Kingdom purposes?
- Who does Jesus have time for?
- Who has worth and value in God’s sight?
After learning a set of stories from the Bible, we often discuss the common themes, as well as what we see as the main message, the important lessons and how they apply to our lives. By asking the right questions, we discover that Jesus had time for children, women, blind beggars and demon-possessed people. He has time for and uses all people.
Women are Effective Messengers
In many parts of the world, women are not given the opportunity to fully participate in the life of the church. In some cases, they have never had the opportunity to learn to read. However, they are very good at learning and telling stories. Children as young as 6 or 7 years old participate in the orality training and learn stories from the Bible. When children learn stories, they tend to tell stories.
In those training sessions, pastors and church leaders observe how everyone can learn stories. They see the passion and excitement of their people learning and telling stories. They begin to catch a vision of how they can train, equip and mobilize storytelling evangelists at every educational and socio-economic level. It levels the playing ground for sharing the Good News of Jesus and making disciples, in ways that are biblical, simple and reproducible.
Orality is Changing the Face of Missions
The Orality Movement is gaining momentum among unreached/unengaged people groups where Bibles are not available. However, once people see the power of the Spoken Word, and other Oral Art Forms, they recognize their multiple and universal applications. The lessons we learn from the more relational, communal, Oral Cultures are very transferable to our Western and North American context. Women and children are a vital part of the movement.
We often point out that our worth and value in God’s Kingdom purposes are not based on our positions, stations in life, possessions or abilities. Our true value is based on the price that was paid for us, the very life of the Lord Jesus. That makes each of us VIPs in His sight. He is an equal opportunity employer, and levels the playing ground for involvement in His Kingdom purposes.
It was encouraging to recently hear reports of how orality training and practices are accelerating Bible translation work and literacy programs. As people gain spiritual insights from orality-based methods, they are often more highly motivated to learn to read God’s Word for themselves. Orality strategies are also accelerating disciple making and church multiplication movements in many creative access countries. It enables people to cross many barriers and borders, with just what’s in their heads and hearts. It can then be reproduced in the heads and hearts of others.
The Spark that Ignites
Years ago Dr. Robert Coleman wrote a book titled, The Spark that Ignites. We now know of many significant movements of God that started with one person or a small group of passionate followers of Jesus.
Telling stories, asking questions and having conversations may seem like small and insignificant activities. However, when God is at work, little things can have a great impact. Throughout history, many major movements can be traced back to some ordinary person in some seemingly obscure place.
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].