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Impact cannot always be measured

By March 2, 2016

International (MNN) — It’s impossible to know the full ripple effect one person can have when they share the Gospel. Living Water International is a ministry that has no handle on the full scope of impact their Gospel-sharing projects have on the world. However, it’s necessary for ministries to have some gauge of their efficacy.

Image capture courtesy of Living Water International.

Image capture courtesy of Living Water International.

Using what they know, Living Water International recently formulated their five-year plan for church mobilization and Gospel proclamation, set within their 25-year vision.

Jerry Wiles says orality is probably their most effective ministry, so they’re doing what they can to maximize it’s impact.

“In terms of church mobilization and Gospel proclamation, there’s increasing numbers of people that see that the orality movement—the orality domain— is very important and a major tool for Church mobilization,” he says.

Wiles clarifies that the Church he’s talking about is not limited to the Western model of churches, but that “mobilizing churches is really mobilizing prayer and people.”

Orality by nature is extremely helpful in this regard. As we talked about last week, orality teaches the Gospel in a reproducible way that connects with the learning methods of the majority of the global population.

“It’s really not enough to proclaim the Gospel. People need to hear it, understand it, be able to process it and remember it and then pass it on to others,” Wiles explains.

The surprising thing about orality is that it works in the Western world setting, too. Churches intending to use orality for short-term mission trips often end up using it for their own congregation, too.

“We’re training people and then the applications can depend upon the local organizations—the church or the mission organization. But once the people go through the training they find multiple applications.”

Wiles mentions nursing homes, prisons, immigrant populations—even Sunday school classes as some examples.

Measureless Multiplication

No matter the context in which orality takes place, it’s impossible to know who all is reached.

This is especially true when you look into the third world where quantifying data on a large scale isn’t a priority like it is in the west.

Image capture courtesy of Living Water International

Image capture courtesy of Living Water International

Wiles says in an African country, a training workshop for orality will include the local pastors, missionaries, church leaders, and community members. There are follow-up programs. But in the end, they’re trained to have a multiplying impact outside of these workshops.

And that’s where numbers are lost.

“We can estimate how many people hear the Gospel through the orality strategies and through the movement but what we don’t know is how many hear by the people who hear,” Wiles explains.

He gives the example of a Zimbabwean pastor who immediately trained thirty more pastors after going through the workshop. But his story is incomplete. How many more were trained by those thirty pastors?

In the past ten years, Living Water has trained about 50,000 people.

“What we don’t know is how many people were trained by the people we’ve trained,” Wiles says.

“We hear these kind of stories and get that kind of feedback. It’s really out of the box of our Western mindset of being able to measure and quantify because the Holy Spirit often captures a person’s heart and they go off and do some incredible things.”

But, Wiles says it’s not a bad thing that they can’t keep track.

“We just remind ourselves that this is a God movement. It’s the work of God in the spreading of the Gospel”

But what they do know is encouraging, and the number of people reached with the Gospel through orality training can only be higher than the number they’ve recorded.

Impact into the future

Living Water’s goals remain the same as they plan ahead for the next five years.

“Our mission statement is that Living Water International exists to demonstrate the love of God by helping communities get access to clean water and to experience the Living Water of Jesus—the Gospel of Jesus which alone satisfies the deepest thirst,” Wiles explains.

Some of the ways they’re looking to pursue that more fully is to emphasize teamwork.

“One of the important parts of what we’re doing in going forward is more collaboration and partnerships. We want to serve and support the Church—the global Church worldwide—the Body of Christ.”

Living Water is also working with PHD candidates who are doing their doctrinal dissertation on orality. Their work should give more insight into how orality is impacting the globe.

Living Water and you

Image capture courtesy of Living Water International

Image capture courtesy of Living Water International

Wiles says that while God has been doing great work to bless and grow their ministry, Living Water can always use support.

That support starts with your prayer. You can pray for God to continue to guide Living Water in effective ministry. You can also pray for more specific things—like the safety of the workers all around the globe.

The next step would be to understand some of the projects they’re working on. You can learn more about them here.

Finally, you can get involved with Living Water when you go on a short-term mission trip, or support them financially. Learn more by clicking on the underlined words.

“We’re meeting the needs and reaching the neediest people on the planet—both spiritually and physically,” Wiles says. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that?

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