If a picture is worth one thousand words, then your life story is worth millions. People are o.k. with refuting religion and God, but not other people. The "You do you" attitude is prevalent among this generation. With an overall expression of acceptance towards who you want to be, your life story has never been more powerful.
I'm not here saying sharing the Gospel is ineffective, but that we should be prepared to share our story at any given moment. Everyone's testimony is a powerful statement of moving from death into life. It gives you the opportunity to share the gospel and it's effect on your life all at once. My heart for this post is to encourage you to write down your own testimony and be prepared to share it at all times.
I was born into a Christian family, and my Father was a pastor. So I was constantly at church. Sunday morning, Sunday night, Wednesday, Saturday events, I was always around. I felt God pulling on my heart when I was young. I was in children's church and the teacher was telling a story about Jesus from the Bible. I knew in that moment I wanted Jesus in my life, but I never made a full commitment. I was always trying to be cool growing up. I wanted to fit in and make everyone like me. As a kid around 6 years old my Auntie took me and my older brother to Sea World! She was excited and told us, "Let's go play in the water park!" I quickly responded with, "Naw, that's for kids!". (My 6 year old self thought I was 16).
This mindset transitioned into high school, and even college. At UH Mānoa I wanted to be accepted. I got caught up in the party scene. I was still searching for acceptance even though God had already accepted me. I remember a Pastor picking me up to go to church Sunday morning, but still being hung-over from the night before. There was one Sunday in church I broke down into tears thinking, "How did I get here. I need to get back to a right place with God." Here I made a full commitment to Jesus, to stop caring what others thought, and to only care what God thought of me.
I'm not perfect now and I struggle with lots of things, but I know there is a God who loves me more than anyone else can. He has a plan for my life, and great things in store.
There's my short story, but how do you build your own testimony? What's the best place to learn how to tell it? The Bible of course! Let's take a look at Paul's testimony from Acts 22:3-21.
3 Then Paul said, “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, and I was brought up and educated here in Jerusalem under Gamaliel. As his student, I was carefully trained in our Jewish laws and customs. I became very zealous to honor God in everything I did, just like all of you today. 4 And I persecuted the followers of the Way, hounding some to death, arresting both men and women and throwing them in prison. 5 The high priest and the whole council of elders can testify that this is so. For I received letters from them to our Jewish brothers in Damascus, authorizing me to bring the followers of the Way from there to Jerusalem, in chains, to be punished.
Here Paul shares background information, who he was before he knew Jesus. He tells of Jewish upbringing, with quality Jewish education. He shares his early life persecuting Christians. He gathered believers in chains and brought them to Jerusalem to be tortured, but them comes Jesus.
6 “As I was on the road, approaching Damascus about noon, a very bright light from heaven suddenly shone down around me. 7 I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?’ 8 “‘Who are you, lord?’ I asked. “And the voice replied, ‘I am Jesus the Nazarene, the one you are persecuting.’ 9 The people with me saw the light but didn’t understand the voice speaking to me. 10 “I asked, ‘What should I do, Lord?’ “And the Lord told me, ‘Get up and go into Damascus, and there you will be told everything you are to do.’ 11 “I was blinded by the intense light and had to be led by the hand to Damascus by my companions. 12 A man named Ananias lived there. He was a godly man, deeply devoted to the law, and well regarded by all the Jews of Damascus. 13 He came and stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, regain your sight.’ And that very moment I could see him! 14 “Then he told me, ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and hear him speak. 15 For you are to be his witness, telling everyone what you have seen and heard. 16 What are you waiting for? Get up and be baptized. Have your sins washed away by calling on the name of the Lord.’
Now Paul shares his conversion experience. The moment he met Jesus, and his life was forever changed. It's an experience beyond words. Seeing Jesus with his own eyes, hearing Jesus speak with his own ears. God blinded him and brought him to another believer, who healed him and commissioned him to be a witness for Jesus. Finally Paul shares what life with Christ is like now.
17 “After I returned to Jerusalem, I was praying in the Temple and fell into a trance. 18 I saw a vision of Jesus saying to me, ‘Hurry! Leave Jerusalem, for the people here won’t accept your testimony about me.’ 19 “‘But Lord,’ I argued, ‘they certainly know that in every synagogue I imprisoned and beat those who believed in you. 20 And I was in complete agreement when your witness Stephen was killed. I stood by and kept the coats they took off when they stoned him.’ 21 “But the Lord said to me, ‘Go, for I will send you far away to the Gentiles!’”
Paul shares of his conviction before Jesus. Knowing he harmed believers, but God still uses him despite his past. Telling Him he will go out of Jerusalem, and share Jesus with the world.
We can look at Paul's Testimony and break it down into three easy parts:
2. Conversion Experience
3. Life with Christ.
For #1 Background, communicate who you were pre-Christ. Share Family life, Childhood, and what you were like before your conversion.
#2 Conversion Experience is the most important part. It's a means of presenting the Gospel to someone. Share the moment that you realized you needed God, and exactly what you did to be saved. After this section people should be able to have an idea how to turn to Jesus themselves, and a basic understanding of the Gospel.
Lastly #3 Life With Christ, is the part where you can share how you are different than before. What life with Christ is like, and the joy and blessings that come with living a life for Jesus.
A few tips:
- Be joyful. Your story is something to be stoked for.
- Don't lie or embellish. When I was younger I thought, "My story isn't as great as someone who turned from drugs or abuse and found Jesus", but Jesus effecting your life is it's own special story. You're going to heaven, that's amazing enough!
- The Bible is pretty cool, use it when possible. Place verses or Bible stories that God used to make a difference in your life.
-Keep it current. Let your listener know that God is still working. While we may be changed, God is still refining all of us.
Your testimony is a powerful tool. No one can refute the changes in your life, so be prepared to share it. Take the time to write down your story, use the three sections, and reflect. Take a look down memory lane from where you've been to where God has brought you, but most of all be prepared to share it. God can use your story to drastically effect those around you!
My hope is that Hilinaʻi: The Believer’s Blog will be a way I can share what God has done in my life, and what God is doing right now! If you’ve stumbled across this and have any questions or thoughts please reach out to us! We hope to connect with you!
If you just started reading check out the intro post to understand the heart behind Hilinaʻi: The Believers Blog.
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