In our minds (those of Christians), we often picture ourselves standing on a stage with thousands in the audience. If we (the speaker) looked around, we'd picture some listening, some sobbing, some with their heads rested between their hands, some trying to hold in all the emotions with silent tears falling down their cheeks, while others sit as cold as ever. We imagine a beautiful, inspiring soundtrack playing, while the rest of the world sits silently as our voice echos throughout the giant stadium. We picture thousands falling on their knees with their hands raised high begging for the Lord to save their lives and break apart the chains holding them to their pasts, illnesses, and temptations.
At least, when I hear the word evangelism, this is what I imagine.
The first time I shared my testimony, it was over a phone. Yeah, that's right. Horrible idea. The next time, I was sitting in the middle of a game room with clashing pool balls and loud, obnoxious music playing in the background so loud I had to repeat everything twice and I lost my voice. The time after was given over lunch in a room so silent I thought I could hear the drop of sweat that ran off my back hit the floor.
Then, one Friday night I was driving home to finally share my testimony on a stage, which I thought would finally come close to what I pictured my "perfect testimony-sharing stage" to look like. Man...was I wrong. I walked out of church that Sunday from filling two back-to-back forty minute sermon time slots with my head a mess. I had said what I planned to, but somehow it didn't come out like I had practiced. I kind of got the reaction I expected to, but not totally. I went back and listened to the recording and, I kid you not, probably got a concussion from hitting my head against the wall every time I heard myself say "um." I hated every bit of how I told my story. I felt inadequate and I should have talked about God more. There are so many "should haves." I wish I could press rewind on the whole thing just to make a second attempt.
The thing is, I walked away that day disheartened. I felt like I had failed God. I felt like I had failed everyone in my story. Returning home, I remember seeing some people in the following weeks who negatively impacted my life (though I had not mentioned their names) and getting glaring looks as if I had lied to the entire world. I remember Satan filling my head with the thought that I should quit sharing because nobody believes me and I am a liar--like the pain I had felt in my past was something I made up.
Little did I know in one of the rows near the front a very lost young man wept that Sunday. That day a child of God was returned after so much searching and years of pain. That man was not supposed to be there, yet he showed up. His grandparents approached me with tears in their eyes weeks after that Sunday and told me their grandson dedicated his life to Christ that day and he feels brand new.
Little did I know.
I took a leap of faith and trusted God that He would use my story to save the lives of others. I told Him I wanted to be used. After beating myself up for weeks about how and what I had shared, God proved His faithfulness, even when my trust fled. The moment Satan tried to burn up my desire to share the Gospel, Jesus came and put it out.
I would do it all over again. I would receive those hateful texts that left me wondering late at night why I try. I would stand on the stage and share the exact same message and go through the same experiences I spent my life trying to survive. I would do it again.
For that one person. For that one, young man who decided to randomly show up at church the same Sunday I thought I spoke and thought I totally blew it.
How sweet is our Lord? How sweet are His mercies and His faithfulness to show up even when we flee the midst of the battle? He calls us back and not only allows us to continue fighting behind Him, but uses us to win impossible battles.
It was not my story that saved that man, it was the grace of God. How sinful is it to think of my story as my own--to place the weight of saving lost souls on my own shoulders? How much disappointment in myself must I experience before I realize how God sees me and allowing Him to "take the wheel"?
What about your story? Are you willing to allow Jesus to use you, despite any wounds you may receive from this fallen world?
Sharing your personal testimony is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding opportunities you will ever experience. The question is, how does one prepare a personal testimony? This summer we have learned that anything we say can be more effective if we know how to organize our thoughts. Testimonies have to be simple, clear, and intriguing. Here are some ...
Do's and Don'ts of giving a testimony:
| DO |
- Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and guidance.
- Use a three point outline describing your life before Christ, how you came to know Him as your Savior, and what your life has looked like after receiving Him.
- Use a attention-grabbing beginning with a thought-provoking ending.
- Explain in a way that associates others to your story.
- Arouse interest.
- Use one to two verses.
| DO NOT!! |
- Use Christian jargon, such as "saved," "convicted," or "converted."
- Be too wordy.
- Speaking extravagantly.
- Mention denominations.
- Give the impression becoming a Christian makes life perfect and easy.
When your are ask to share your testimony, be sure to:
- Share with enthusiasm about how the Holy Spirit has transformed you!
- Speak loudly and clearly.
- Avoid mannerisms that distract.
- Avoid using a preachy tone.
- Memorize it and practice until it becomes natural!
When sharing with a non-believer, make sure to ask questions to see where they are in their walk with the Lord by asking questions, such as:
- What are three words that would describe your life?
- Do you have any religious background?
- How would you explain Christianity to a non-believer?
Moreover, when you are sharing, make sure you CARE for that person in a way that makes your testimony uplifting, not heavy or points them away from the Gospel.
DARE TO CARE ABOUT THAT PERSON THROUGH YOUR TESTIMONY AND PREPARE TO SHARE YOUR HEART!
I hope you share and fully trust that our gracious Lord may use you.