When our team members travel to spend time with our Indigenous SIU partners, quite often we are shown some incredible ways that “gatherings of believers” happen without having to meet in a physical building. We like to refer to it as “church at the water well,” “church under a tree,” “church on the back of a camel” (that’s a fun image to picture 😊) or “house church.” The Greek word “ekklesia” is the word often translated as “church” in our modern, English Bibles. In the language of today, the word “church” often means a building where Christians meet for their regular services. The original meaning of the word “ekklesia” refers to an assembly or gathering of believers, not a building where people gather. A basic definition of the New Testament word “ekklesia,” is “those who are called out and assembled together.”
About Kent Kiefer
Kent Kiefer is Scriptures in Use, Executive Director & CEO. He came to SIU with 12 years of International Ministry experience, most recently four years with a faith-based International Missions’ Sending Agency (ABWE) and previously eight years with a faith-based International Parachurch ministry (Focus on the Family). Kent has a heart and passion for “reaching the unreached” and believes strongly that the oral arts/communication bridges training approach designed specifically for the indigenous men and women of peace around the world is one of the most effective means to reach the nations with the Gospel.
Entries by Kent Kiefer
Do you feel like this world, this earthly realm, is spinning out of control more and more each day? The more I talk to people about this, the more I find my feelings are shared by many. This trend is no surprise to our Lord as He has prepared us for these times through His living Word with many of His promises and prophecies being fulfilled right now. Despite the chaos, conflict, and calamities we see daily, God is working mightily around the world. We continue to hear from our Bridges training partners of how God is using the stories of the Bible to bring people into His Kingdom. Since many of our partners are in places that are dangerous, we must be careful with how we relay the stories to you, but we will do our best to share them when we can.
This month’s blog post is part of a series of distinctive applications of SIU’s Oral Bible Strategies as defined by our founders, Jim and Carla Bowman.
“April blossoms of lilacs and apricot trees highlight the landscape in rural Kyrgyzstan. On this third day of class, drama practice of the story of Deborah has just ended as Damira steps forward for biblical poetry recitation. Her round eyes glow as she begins to recite Deborah’s song from Judges:
‘Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
of yurt-dwelling women most blessed…’
In the large room her voice resonates beautifully. Listeners smile as they hear the Bible verses take on the flavor of their beautiful tent dwelling, nomadic culture….”
With the Covid pandemic easing in most areas across the globe, two of our U.S. based Bridges trainers were able to return to the field recently, visiting Africa and Asia to spend time and train with our indigenous partners. After two years of no international travel, these SIU leaders were excited to get back to spending time with our beloved partners; building relationship, coaching, and training together! There were some amazing adventures during their travels, and our God showed up in mighty ways.
Each year that the Lord continues to allow our ministry and our partners to do His work in Oral Cultures around the world, we have the blessing of sharing and sending out our SIU Annual Report. We have already received much positive feedback from our recent 2021 report and would like to take a moment to share one of the selected stories, a testimony and some highlights. We continue to celebrate our God – the God who never sleeps and is never surprised.
Where do you go for peace and strength as you face this world and its daily struggles? Our Staff and Board gather regularly for prayer, seeking our Lord together often. Recently, one of our team members brought a devotion addressing the anxiety, unrest, worry and fear which circles all around us, and the fact that it can come at us unexpectedly at any time. They asked “When anxiety or panic comes, Where do you go?”
One of the favorite things I get to tell people about our God is how He meant for the good news and gospel of Jesus Christ, His church and coming eternal Kingdom to be shared with ALL people and people groups, and all types of people/individuals within those groups. Our God loves all people regardless of their background, education, economic status, race, color, ethnic origin, or any other variation defined by man. He shows no favoritism, and His message is just as much, or even more so, for the common people who have been neglected or ignored as it is for those who are highly educated and wealthy.
Have you ever thought, “Can I participate in a SIU Bridges to Oral Cultures Training?” Do you know someone who might like to join a training? Through our new partnership with TRAIN International, we have an opportunity for you. You are invited to participate in a SIU Bridges to Oral Cultures Training without having to travel overseas. This is a truly unique opportunity that doesn’t come along often.
Daniel, a participant in an SIU Bridges to Oral Cultures training event here in the United States wrote, “A few weeks ago, I participated in a ‘storying’ training….After the storying training, I decided…[to] give this simple storying method a try….The kids were engaged in the story, and when it came time to answer questions from the story, it became immediately clear that they had listened incredibly well.”
Whether you are interested in attending the training or not, I think you will be blessed to read the rest of Daniel’s story of his experience using the tools he gained through the Bridges to Oral Cultures training.
Last year was a difficult year for our SIU partners and SIU team members, even as we witnessed the continued advancement of the Gospel with new believers, new disciples and new church plants across the harvest fields around the world in 2021. Our international partners and US based team saw and experienced much grief with loss of life with immediate family and close friends. In the midst of loss, we hold on to the sovereignty, peace, love and goodness of our God.
In the last few Blogs, we have revealed a disheartening imbalance and shocking fact that less than 1/100 of .1% (which equates to .0001) of the world’s annual charitable giving goes to places in the world needing the gospel the most. Sadly, that is less than $1 of every $10,000 of charitable giving dollars going to those people across the world—currently estimated at 3.28 billion people (source: Joshuaproject.net) — who have NEVER heard about Jesus and His gift of salvation. This means that the people groups who are unreached are NOT receiving the resources needed to make an eternal difference in their lives.
How can this change?
YOU can play a key role in changing this trend by supporting our partners in prayer and financial support with a year-end gift to SIU.