By Jerry Wiles, President Emeritus, Living Water International, Special to ASSIST News Service
HOUSTON, TX (ANS – July 1, 2015) – A lady in a Central African country heard the Story of Jesus Calming the Storm, from Mark chapter 4. After the lady heard the story for the first time, she said, “I see that those disciples went to Jesus first during that storm on the sea.” She went on to say, “I see that for me, I should be going to Jesus first, instead of the witch doctor. So, from now on, I’ll be going to Jesus, instead of the witch doctor when I face the storms of life.”
The lady who told the story had just learned it in an Orality Training Workshop and immediately shared it with others in a village. In this training, it is emphasized that we don’t have to be great story tellers, because we have great stories to tell. Also, trainees discover the power of learning a little, practicing a lot, implementing immediately and telling the stories often. Participants are trained to tell the stories from the Bible, facilitate small group retelling and discussion, and how to help others discover the meaning and applications from the lessons in the stories.
We all face storms in life – problems, pressure, difficulties or crisis situations. A great question to ask people is, “Would you like to hear a story that will help you deal with the problems, difficulties and pressures in life?” This particular story is short and easy to learn, but can be used to communicate many important lessons. We can use this story to talk about the uniqueness of Jesus, about His humanity — He was tired and sleepy, so He was sleeping in the back of the boat during the storm. Yet, He demonstrated His deity by showing His power over nature.
One of the many benefits of Orality Training is that people learn how effective it can be in sharing the Gospel (Good News) of Jesus. In Living Water International’s introductory training, we emphasize how one can use any of the stories to introduce the message of salvation in Christ, with the appropriate pre- and post-story dialogue and discussion. Stories can become the vehicles for communicating many theological themes and spiritual truths. In fact, one simple story from Scripture can be used to share many biblical truths.
A person might ask a question like, “Would you like to hear a story that can help you have a more personal, intimate relationship with God?” Or, in a situation where people know very little about God or the Bible, a great question to ask is, “Would you like to hear a story that will help you find the path to God?” Another good question to introduce a story is, “Can I tell you a story that will help you better deal with problems, pressures and difficulties?” Telling the Story of Jesus Calming the Storm can lead to a series of questions. Some of those questions could be, “Do we learn from this story that Jesus cares?” And, “Does Jesus still have power over nature and our circumstances?” “Can Jesus still bring calmness to us during our storms of life?”
Let’s go back to the idea of going to Jesus first, instead of the witch doctor. In our cultural context, how often do we go to the wrong source first or try to come up with some human solution? What about when we face problems and difficulties, who do we go to first? It could be that if we go to Jesus first, we may not need to go to other sources. He may often use some other human resource in our lives, but He may desire to answer our prayers or meet our needs in different ways than what we think. It can’t hurt to go to Him first, then trust Him to give wisdom and direction.
An important lesson we learn from Jesus is that He did nothing of Himself, but what He saw the Father doing is what He did. The fact is, that is how He desires for us, as His followers, to live our lives. When we make ourselves available to the Lord Jesus, as He made Himself available to the Father through the Eternal Spirit, He will make Himself available to us. We can see the same God in action today, who was active through the humanity of Jesus 2,000 years ago. We are the temple, the dwelling place of God, and can be instruments of His love and power and redemptive activity today.
We, in the modern Western World, sometimes make things more complicated than they need to be. Then when we try to take our Western contextual models to the rest of the world, it just doesn’t fit. Even in our own cultures in North America, we sometimes tend to complicate the message of God and fail to appropriately communicate and relate it to those who need it most. Jesus, of course, is our best model as a communicator, trainer and disciple-maker. He told stories and parables, asked questions, created community and relationships, that have been reproduced ever since. However, after the invention of the printing press, the church became more dependent on literate or written means and neglected the most effective ways and means of communication and training (disciple-making).
Some Church leaders and scholars are now recognizing the great need of getting back to the roots of how the Jesus Movement began 2,000 years ago. He is still alive and living in each of us who are born of His Spirit. The methods and strategies that He used then will still work for us today. God is an equal opportunity employer, and He will continue His work through us if we simply trust and obey Him.
For information about LWI or Orality Training resources and opportunities, visit www.water.cc/orality.
Photo captions: 1) A water well is a great place to share stories. 2) Every human connection can be an opportunity to ask questions and tell stories. 3) Wherever people gather is a place to connect and share the Good News. 4) Jerry Wiles.
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@example.com.
Note: If you would like to help support the ASSIST News Service, please go to www.assistnews.net and click on the DONATE button to make you tax-deductible gift (in the US), which will help us continue to bring you these important stories. We need your help at this important time to invest in this unique service. Also, tell your friends about us.
** You may republish this and any of our ANS stories with attribution to the ASSIST News Service (www.assistnews.net)