International (MNN) — There is a revolutionary development in mission strategy, says Jerry Wiles of Living Water International.
It’s called “orality.”
“It’s a very significant movement, understanding the oral cultures of the world,” Wiles says. Oral learners are “people who can’t, don’t, or won’t read, or prefer to learn by means other than written, instructional print-based media–which is a majority of the world. They’re either oral learners by necessity or by preference.”
Just to give a glimpse at how the “oral movement” is growing in today’s society, the International Orality Network was started in 2004 with 30 different organizations. Today, the network has 2,000 organizations taking part in it, all that have seen the importance of sharing the Gospel orally.
Wiles notes, “The places where [people] don’t have access to clean, safe drinking water, they’ve had the least access to the Gospel.” This, in itself, is an opportunity and a blessing for LWI to break down barriers by providing clean drinking water and then telling people about the Word of God.
LWI wants to be the initial missionaries for societies so they can set a firm foundation. But through their words, training, and Scriptures, they hope those they’re ministering to will become missionaries in their village and for their family and friends.
“We train them so that they can take what they learn and reproduce it. And it crosses over the language barriers much quicker than conventional literacy based translation work and literacy programs,” explains Wiles.
“I think we sometimes over emphasize academic pursuit in our Western model of education and think that people need a certain level of education before they can become a true follower of Jesus. Well, we have forgotten what we have learned.”
Though a big part of Living Water’s focus is in third world countries with a bare minimum of clean water, they’re still ministering to their home country: the United States.
Living Water has trained in several cities around the U.S. and is discovering the greatness of working with and training in immigrant communities.
In any training, Living Water likes to “keep it simple.” They want to make the Word understandable so individuals can become storytellers.
“We promote the idea that you don’t have to be great storytellers because we have great stories to tell. When we tell the story, the Word of God has power… the Holy Spirit touches people’s hearts and changes their lives,” says Wiles.
“It gives people great confidence that we can all tell the story. We don’t have to have all the answers. We just tell the story.”