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. Transformation is happening as many around the world are now experiencing and sharing the Living Water that Jesus spoke of in John chapters 4 and 7. He is not referring to some elite class of religious people, but to all who come to, believe in and trust Him. All are welcome.
Great Needs, and Opportunities
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. While 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, there are still great needs and opportunities for reaching and helping people with clean water solutions, health and hygiene education, sanitation services and the gospel.
The Ones Who Suffer Most
Women and children are the ones who suffer the most from a lack of clean water. In many places, women spend 20, or more, hours a week collecting water; some walk several miles every day, often for contaminated water. Water-related diseases cause 2.2 million deaths a year; every day, diarrhea takes the lives of 2,000 children in Africa – more than any other single cause of death. Safe water, a toilet and clean hands could prevent 90% of these deaths. Half of the hospital beds in the world are occupied by someone with some kind of water-related disease. The statistics are overwhelming.
The Neediest of the Needy
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 a dollar 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.
It is encouraging to know that over the past 30 years millions of people have gained access to clean, safe drinking water for the first time. However, the best story we have to tell is that God will transform individuals, families, communities and even nations through the person of Jesus Christ. Now, with better research and understanding about the ways 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, to communicate the gospel to everyone and make disciples of all people groups.
Reaching the Oral Majority
Recent studies show that 70 to 80% of the people in the world today would be considered oral learners, by necessity or by preference. In the regions where LWI works, it is estimated that more than 80 – 90% of the people 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. Since launching Orality Training and Strategies more than a decade ago, LWI has experienced amazing impact and results as people have experienced better ways of communicating the Good News of Jesus and making disciples in ways that are biblical, understandable and reproducible to the ends of the earth and to all people groups.
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 engages and everyone participates. We are often amazed and surprised 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 women and children using stories and oral methods.
Acting on the Word
A lady participated in an Orality Training for Trainers (O-T4T) in West Africa. She immediately participated with a team that conducted an Orality Training Workshop with a larger group. She returned to her home country and started training others. During the following month she conducted orality training with more than 300 people, and 70 received Christ. She is a great example of how ordinary followers of Jesus can have significant impact by acting on the simple truth of the Word of God.
Orality Movement’s Impact
It seems that many, especially in the Western Church, 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 that 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, leading others to Christ and helping others grow in their relationship with the Lord should not be complicated. This is where the Orality Movement is having such an amazing impact on people’s lives, when they really pay attention, participate in learning and then share it with others.
Power of Simplicity and Reproducibility
If we are to effectively communicate the Good (News) Story to everyone, to the ends of the earth, 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.
Oral Leaners Everywhere
Dr. J. D. Payne, in his book, Pressure Points identifies Orality (or Oral Learners) as one of “Twelve Global Issues Shaping the Face of the Church.” He points out that, “Two-thirds of the world’s population are oral learners, meaning they cannot, do not, or will not learn through literate means. For centuries, the Church has “walked on literate feet.” Still many people in the world today do not have their language in a written form, making literate communication impossible. We also now know that a large percentage of the population of the United States is made up of secondary oral learners, or oral preference learners.
Power of the Few
An important lesson we learn from church history is that the great movements of God in the world have not started with big fanfare or massive media campaigns. My friend and brother in Christ, Tim Timmons, points out that Jesus was into the power of the few! Instead of going on TV and seeking to produce mass seminars, mailers and email blasts, Jesus sought out three religious rejects to come and be with him. And, from this relationship with the three, then the twelve and the seventy-two, the Jesus movement rippled throughout the world and the revolution is still on today! He goes on to say, “We are seeing this play out in our work. We are focusing on the few and as those few really get it, the message of Jesus spreads like a wildfire.”
Little Things Having Big Impact
In our orality training, we emphasize the principles of the kingdom of God that Jesus teaches about the mustard seed and the yeast. A small seed can produce a large plant, and a small amount of yeast can effect a large lump of dough. The Samaritan Woman at the well and the formerly demon-possessed Gerasene are great examples, in that both of them were used to bring transformation to whole communities and the ten-city region of the Decapolis. It is encouraging to realize that the little things we say or do can have great impact on others, even bringing transformation to families and communities today.
For more information, visit: www.water.cc or www.orality.net