During the early 1970s there was a ripple of revival that swept across the USA and other parts of the world. Many did not recognize it as a revival or spiritual awakening at the time. However, in subsequent years several books were written about that era. Some talked about the Asbury Revival, the Jesus Revolution or Jesus Movement. Thinking back over the past few decades, some seemingly insignificant conversations and events have resulted in significant impact for the kingdom. Robert E. Coleman’s book, The Coming World Revival (originally published as The Spark That Ignites) is an excellent resource to better understand revival and spiritual awakenings.
Entering God’s Redemptive Activities
It has been more than 100 years since the USA has experienced a movement of God or spiritual awakening that has changed the culture or structures of society. However, there are those who believe we could be on the verge of another great awakening. There are signs of revival in various parts of the country and around the world. We know that awakenings and revival typically come during times of economic down turns, moral decline, corruption, and war. The good news is that we don’t have to wait for some sweeping move of God. Each of us can experience personal revival at any time. We can enter God’s redemptive activities, step out in faith and act on the Word of God any place and at any time.
A Conversation that Transformed many Lives
In Washington D.C. in 1985, after attending a White House briefing, a friend and I were waiting for a taxi in front of the Old Executive Office Building. It was raining and a kind lady nearby offered to share her umbrella with us. While we waited together for the taxi, I engaged the lady in conversation. I asked her a few questions and shared the gospel with her. She was open and receptive, and we had prayer together, and she confessed her faith in Jesus. The whole encounter took less than about 10 minutes.
Our Unconscious Influence
Not realizing it at the time, but that experience had a profound impact on my friend Brian. It inspired him to become more intentional and proactive about sharing the gospel. A few years back, Brian and I reconnected, and he told me that he has continued to share his faith on a regular basis. He said that, on average, he had seen two or three people a week respond to the Lord and confess their faith in Christ. Brian is a great example of how the Lord honors His Word as we sow it into the lives of others. It is also an example of the value of mentoring and modeling our walk with the Lord. One author has referred to the power of our unconscious influence on others.
Passing on the Love of God
During the Jesus Movement there was a phrase in a popular song, “It Only Takes a Spark to Get a Fire Going.” The actual title of the song was “Pass It On” by composer Kurt Kaiser. Many students and young people were ignited with great passion during those days for sharing the Gospel on college and university campuses around the country. In fact, that song has had impact around the world. In 2015, while conducting an Orality Training for pastors in Zimbabwe, I happened to mention that song. One of the pastors spontaneously begin singing the song, and others new the words and joined in. The first verse of that song goes like this:
It only takes a spark to get a fire going
And soon all those around, can warm up in its glowing
That’s how it is with God’s love
Once you’ve experienced it, you spread His love to everyone
You want to pass it on
In my own journey, I have experienced how influencing one person, moved by the Holy Spirit, can become a passion, and be activated in sharing and introducing others to Christ. Only the Lord knows the multiplying impact one transformed life can have on many others over time.
Small Things can have Great Impact
Think about what it takes to ignite a movement, to build a business, or grow a church or organization. What are the principles that enable each of us, as followers of Jesus, to make the greatest possible contribution to advancing the Kingdom of God? These are important questions to ponder, and I suggest there are some simple and understandable answers. The parables of mustard seed and yeast that Jesus talked about are examples of Kingdom principles, that can become catalysts to start movements that change the world. From these parables, we learn that little things can have major impact. Examples in the New Testament would be the Samaritan Woman at the Well, the demon possessed Gerasene, and Phillip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. These show how God can use one person to impact a community, a region or even an entire nation.
In the natural realm, think of the fact that every major river starts with a small stream. A small snowball can cause an avalanche. A seed is the beginning of a tree that produces much fruit. Consider how many major corporations started out in someone’s kitchen or garage. Church planting or disciple making movements have often started in living rooms, storefronts, coffee shops or under trees in remote areas. It is exciting to know that when we lead someone into a living relationship with the Living God, we seldom know where the Rivers of Living Water may flow from that person.
From Conversations to Movements
It was in the 1970s and ‘80s that a few missionaries and church leaders became interested and began discussing Orality, Oral Cultures and how to reach Oral Learners. It was from some seemingly insignificant conversations at Amsterdam 2,000 that resulted in the formation of the Oral Bible Task Force, which later became known as the International Orality Network.
Increasing numbers of mission and ministry leaders, pastors and church leaders, business professionals and ordinary followers of Jesus are now paying attention to the Orality Movement. There are those who are saying that the concepts, principles and practices of Orality could revolutionize the ways that the Church/Mission World communicates the gospel and makes disciples. Understanding the principles of small, simple and reproducible are key factors that can enhance our potential for witness and impact for advancing the Kingdom of God. It’s important to think of having a multiplying effect. Consider — from seed to fruit, from stream to river, from snowball to avalanche.
Power of Water and the Word
Living Water International is another example of how small beginnings can grow to something big and impactful. Beginning in 1990 with a mission trip to East Africa of a group of people from Houston area churches. LWI is now considered by many to be the world’s leading Great Commission water solutions organizations. To date, more than 22,000 water projects have been completed in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Millions are now being impacted everyday with Water and the Word.
The Glory of God, Covering the Earth
Those Kingdom principles are being worked out in many ways around the world. We can all be a part of this historic move of God in advancing His Kingdom here on earth and the realization of the prophecy of Habakkuk 2:14, “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.”
Scripture tells us that God is no respecter of persons. We often say, “He is an equal opportunity employer.” We can all get in on what He is doing in redeeming His creation. We can all sow the Good Seed of His Word and experience the multiplying impact of His Kingdom principles. Each of us can be a spark that ignites a fire of the love and grace of God that spreads to many others.
Jerry Wiles, North America Regional Director of International Orality Network, and President Emeritus of Living Water International. He is an author and radio program producer and has been a frequent guest on radio and television talk shows and traveled extensively as a public speaker.