With orality, faith comes by hearing

By Jerry Wiles
Special to ASSIST News Service

HOUSTON – The Word of God has great power to transform lives. Romans 10:17 says, “… faith comes by hearing, and

hearing by the Word of God.” So often we think of the Word of God as the Bible. And, it’s true that the Bible is God’s Word written. However, throughout the Bible, when reference is made to the Word of God or the Word of the Lord, in most cases it’s not referring to a written document. The written Word of God, when mentioned in the Bible, is usually referred to as “the Scriptures.”

Actually, the Word of God was around in oral form long before it was ever in written form. So, when we think of the importance of hearing the Word of God, orality often takes on a whole new meaning for many.

Throughout history most people have come to faith in Jesus by hearing the Word of God and the stories of Jesus.

What we are learning in our orality training experiences is that people come alive with new excitement and enthusiasm as they hear, retell and discuss the stories of Jesus.

Storytelling and orality methods seem to level the playing field, so that everyone can participate in God’s redemptive activity. We find that, regardless of socio-economic or educational levels, almost everyone can learn and retell stories.

In many countries, women and children are not involved in church life. However, in the orality training workshops, they become fully engaged and excited to learn and retell the stories and participate in the discussions. Children as young as age six have learned and told the stories.

In the countries where Living Water International works, it’s estimated that 80% or more are oral learners, by necessity or by preference.

In the Orality Movement people are discovering that almost anyone can share their faith, about any time and any place. When people are equipped with appropriate oral communication skills, they just go with what’s in their heads and hearts, that can be reproduced in other people’s heads and hearts.

Everywhere we conduct our orality training, we emphasize that it’s not intended to take the place of any other methods or strategies that are effective and producing the desired results. Orality is intended to be an addition to one’s mission/ministry resource toolbox. However, in so many places, pastors and church/mission leaders, after experiencing the training and observing the results, tell us that oral methods are more effective than anything else they have been using.

One pastor in Africa said, “This (orality training) is just what we need. This will bring revival to our country.” Another pastor in Central America realized that with orality methods, he can equip, train and mobilize story telling evangelists at every level, with all those in his congregation.

Orality is, in part, just getting back to how Jesus lived, related, lead, communicated and made disciples. There is a great need to recognize that it is the reproducing life of Jesus Christ in and through each of His children, His followers. That makes sharing Him and advancing His Kingdom an exciting adventure. That realization should put joy, passion and motivation in each of us to want others to have a relationship with the Most High God.

Many of those who have attended Living Water’s orality training workshops go away, not only with new skills, but new passion, joy and desire to be contagious and share His life and stories with others.

In a recent conversation about orality with a lady who is a mission trip leader in Central America, I asked her what had been the highlight of leading mission trips. She said, “The last 20 minutes that have changed my life and the way I’ll do missions from now on.”

To gain a broader perspective of what orality really is, just consider all the ways that people have learned and communicated for thousands of years. Consider all the methods that do not depend on print-based media or written instructions. Many people, when hearing about orality, still think that it refers just to those who can’t read or write.

The depth and breadth of orality is amazing and includes a wide variety of expressions. In addition to the many different streams of storying, there is the use of drama, song, dance, poems, proverbs and parables to name a few. There are also the many technological resources such as radio, TV, the internet, cell phones, recording devices and other audio and visual resources and strategies.

God is willing and able to give each of us His wisdom and discernment, if we only ask and trust Him.

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