Connecting for Change -- The Problem of Loneliness, Alienation and Separation
By Jerry Wiles, President Emeritus, Living Water International, Special to ASSIST News Service
HOUSTON, TX (ANS – June 3, 2015) – As I met a man in
a revolving door at the entrance of a hotel, I smiled and greeted him.
Immediately the man turned around and followed me into the lobby of the
hotel and approached me with a question. He asked, “Do I know you? Have
we met before?” I replied, “I don’t think so, but we may have a mutual
friend.” He said, “Who would that be?” I said, “The Lord Jesus Christ,
do you happen to know Him?”
brief encounter gave me the opportunity to share the Gospel with this
man. He had heard of Jesus, but had never personally trusted Him or
become a follower of Jesus. He was obviously interested and open to the
Lord, and we had the opportunity to pray together and he called on the
Lord. I explained that he didn’t have to be in a church building or go
through a long religious ritual in order to enter a relationship with
the Lord. We discussed, from Romans chapter 10, what it means to confess
with our mouth and believe in our hearts in order to be saved, and that
whoever calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
This man was like so many in society today, he was alienated and
separated from God because of sin. We know from Scripture that all have
sinned and come short of the glory of God. He had heard and knew about
Jesus, but just needed a little encouragement to respond to the Good
News. It seems that one of the big needs in the world today is for
believers (followers of Jesus) to recognize that we are all ministers of
reconciliation, as we are told in II Corinthians 5. We are
representatives, ambassadors of Christ, and can be agents of change,
every day, wherever we happen to be.
Loneliness is a common problem, especially in our modern Western
world, where so many are living in isolation and a lack of community or
companionship. Alienation and loneliness are causes of much anxiety and
lack of connectedness. Research has shown that loneliness is a problem
in marriages, relationships, families and even in churches. It has been
described as social pain and has been a motivator for people to seek
social connections. Realizing that can be a big help in our efforts to
minister and witness to others.
I had exchanged a few brief comments with a lady seated next to me on
an airplane. I mentioned that I work with an organization called Living
Water International and that we help people with clean water solutions
and share the love of Jesus with some of the neediest people on earth.
Then she said to me, “Can I ask you a question”? I said, “Sure.” She
asked, “What happens when a person dies?” Well, it turned out that her
mother had passed away that morning, and she was on her way home to help
with funeral arrangements. We talked for about an hour, and I was able
to share and minister to her during that time of loss and pain.
We seldom know what is going on in people’s lives until we connect
with them and listen. It is important to listen, not only to people’s
stories and their pain, but also listen to the Holy Spirit. He will
often give us a word that is fitly spoken just for that person’s
situation. The more we connect with people and listen to their stories,
the more the Holy Spirit will open up those divine encounters and many
times turn them into life-altering and transformational experiences.
One of the important lessons we have learned over the years in our
Orality Training sessions is how the experience connects people in ways
that do not normally happen in the big crowds or in large gatherings.
Orality Training Workshops allow everyone to connect, participate and
engage by telling stories and asking questions. Not only do the
participants learn stories, they discover the meaning and applications
and they connect with other people’s stories. One Orality Training
Workshop in a church group of about thirty people, mostly senior
citizens, realized how little they really knew about each other. Even
though many of them had been attending church together for more than 25
years, they came to realize that they really didn’t know one another in a
deep spiritual way.
the middle of the afternoon of the workshop, they were in tears at they
heard each other’s stories of coming to Christ, how they had endured
many storms of life and how God had answered prayer and intervened in
their lives. That group, like many others in our church culture in the
Modern Western context, demonstrates how we can be part of a large
congregation, organization or business, and still be living in isolation
It is an encouraging development that increasing numbers of churches
and organizations are realizing the power of small groups and
participatory experiences. The Orality Movement is such a significant
and important strategy to address these issues of loneliness, isolation
and alienation. Even in the business world, there is a growing awareness
that community and relationships are very important for healthy
One of my mentors use to say that one of our big needs is to find out
what God is up to, and get in on it. Well, we know from Scripture that
He is up to reconciling the world unto Himself, He is about redeeming
His creation, and that He sent the Lord Jesus into the world to seek and
save the lost. He now lives in us, who are born of His Spirit, to carry
out that purpose. In Christ, we are new creations, we are in spiritual
union with the Living God, and we are complete in Him. Therefore there
is now no condemnation and no separation for those who are in Christ
Jesus. What a privilege we have of being joined to the Lord in His
For information about Orality resources and training opportunities, visit www.water.cc/orality.
Photo captions: 1) Orality Training with small group interaction is
transforming lives, churches and communities. 2) Sharing stories,
sharing life and experiencing community is the best solution for
loneliness and alienation. 3) Jerry Wiles.
the writer: Jerry Wiles is president emeritus of Living Water
International and serves on the advisory council and leadership team of
the International Orality Network. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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