HOUSTON, TX (ANS) — “The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But the Lord will answer them,” (Isaiah 41:17). Jesus said, in John 7:37-38, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams or rivers of living water will flow from within him.” While assisting communities in acquiring clean, safe drinking water, we want to facilitate their experiencing the Living Water of Jesus, which alone satisfies the deepest thirst. Access to clean water and the Good News of Jesus is bringing transformation to communities around the world. Meeting the most basic physical and spiritual needs is giving gifts that keep on giving.
Power in Partnerships
Since 1990, Living Water International has had many amazing opportunities to be the hands and feet and voice of Jesus, working with local churches, other mission organizations and ministries, and many other partners around the world. The number of people who are without access to clean water has been reduced from more than 1.2 billion around the year 2000, to under 800 million today. However, there are still great needs and opportunities for helping people with water solutions, health and hygiene education, sanitation services, and sharing the gospel.
Women and Children Suffer Most
Women and children are the ones who suffer the most from a lack of clean water. In many places, women may spend 20, or more, hours a week collecting water; some walk several miles every day, often for contaminated water. Water-related diseases cause more than two million deaths a year; every day, diarrhea takes the lives of thousands of children. Safe water, a toilet and clean hands could prevent the majority of these deaths. Half of the hospital beds in the world are occupied by someone with some kind of water-related disease.
The Neediest People
Great progress is being made globally in addressing the water issues, but whole people groups are being overlooked – it’s the poorest people with the least political power and material resources who continue to suffer. Many of the people who are without access to clean water are those who live on less than two dollars a day and have had the least access to educational opportunities and the gospel. These are the neediest people on the planet, both physically and spiritually.
The Great Commission
It is amazing that over the past 20 years millions of people have gained access to safe drinking water. However, the best story we have to tell is that God desires to transform individuals, families, communities and nations through the person of Jesus Christ. Now, with better research and understanding about the way most people in the world learn and communicate, we can be more effective and strategic in sharing the Living Water of Jesus and carrying out our Lord’s Great Commission.
Reaching Oral Learners
Recent studies show that more than 70% of the people in the world today would be considered oral learners, by necessity or by preference. In the regions where Living Water International works, it is probably more like 80% or more of the people who are oral learners — those who can’t, don’t or won’t read, or prefer to learn and communicate by means other than written instruction or print-based media. Over the past decade we have seen some amazing impact as people have been trained in orality concepts. They become more aware of better ways of communicating the Good News of Jesus and making disciples among all people groups. It is important to do so in ways that are biblically-based, culturally relevant, and reproducible to the ends of the earth.
In many parts of the world, women and children are not given the opportunity to participate in the life of the church. In our Orality Training Workshops, everyone is engaged and everyone participates. We are often amazed when we see how so many of the women and children come alive with excitement and enthusiasm as they retell the stories. We have observed that when people of all ages learn stories, discuss them and discover the meaning and application to their lives, they tend to tell them to others. Consider how many people might be impacted over the lifetime of a child who learns a few stories and a set of questions. We have heard accounts of how churches have been planted by children using stories and oral methods.
Power of Reproduction
A lady who participated in an Orality Training for Trainers (O-T4T), and was part of a team that conducted an Orality Training Workshop, reported that she immediately started using the training. During the following month she conducted orality training with over 300 people, and more than 70 received Christ. Many have thought of the Great Commission — making disciples of all nations — as being the responsibility of professionals, paid clergy or church staff people. There are many now who are rethinking and realizing that making disciples is the role, responsibility and privilege of every follower of Jesus, regardless of age, gender or educational achievements. The spreading of the gospel, introducing others to Christ and helping them grow in their relationship with the Lord does not have to be complicated. This is where the Orality Movement is having such an amazing impact.
Transforming Impact of the Holy Spirit
If we are to effectively communicate the Good News of Jesus to everyone, and make disciples of all people groups, we must make sure that our message and methods are biblical, understandable and reproducible. There is great power in simplicity and reproducibility. The idea of training and making disciples with a focus on learning a little, practicing a lot and implementing immediately seems to be catching on. People are discovering that we don’t have to be biblical scholars to share the Word of God with great impact. The power of the Holy Spirit, working through ordinary followers of Jesus, can have a transforming impact on individuals, families and entire communities.
Giving and Receiving
What a delight to see the smiling faces and joyful hearts of those who receive the gift of clean water for the first time. Many other conditions improve as a result. There really is no greater joy than being able to give and serve others. Jesus told us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. Perhaps in this Christmas season we can look for more ways of giving and serving the least and last among us.