Last week I had the opportunity to ask a friend a question I had wanted to ask for a long time. "How did you go from being _____ (a member of one of the world's major religions) to being a deacon in a Baptist church?" What followed was one of the most compelling stories of a spiritual journey that I had heard in years.
This young man spent his childhood and teenage years going through the motions of religious activities that satisfied his parents but never engaged his heart. By college, he was no longer even pretending to be connected to a church. He described a period in his life filled with poor choices, coming to a point of brokenness, and realizing there was something missing. (Isn't that the point we all get to when Jesus finally gets our attention and the Holy Spirit is able to do the work that needs to be done)? Through his job, he had observed the devotion of a man for his mother as he came to feed her in the nursing home every day and found out the man was a pastor. One day my friend walked into that pastor's church, poured out his heart to him, and ended up praying to receive Christ as his Savior and Lord. What happened next was both profoundly wise and critically important. That pastor asked two solid Christian men to come alongside this new believer, spend time with him, and disciple him in his new faith. They helped him understand the truth of God's Word through hours of Bible study and poured their lives into him. Two years later, my friend met the girl who would become his wife. It was no accident that her father was a Baptist preacher and this girl was a grounded and committed Christian. They began their married lives as "equally-yoked" believers and are building a family founded on Christ and Christian principles. My friend's story is unique to him and explains so much about who he is and why he does what he does.
This friend's testimony has stayed on my mind. I, too, have a testimony of how God pursued me "while I was still a sinner," drew me to Himself and led me to profess my belief in Jesus as His Son. My testimony includes times of rebellion followed by restoration and of dating dozens of wrong guys while God was preparing my heart and Steve's, knowing that the two of us were what God had planned as each other's partner for service and for creating a family that would honor Him. My story incorporates periods of trial, sorrow, searching, and testing followed by obedience. It is uniquely my own testimony.
My testimony doesn't end when I got baptized at the age of 8 or when Steve and I served as missionaries when we were both in our 50's. My testimony could be updated DAILY. It is amazing how God leads me continually, how He puts certain people in my path, how He orchestrates circumstances giving me the chance to share my faith to those who enter my life. He puts people on my heart who need a touch. He gives me words to speak. Words of encouragement and words describing what God has done for me. He has granted me good health to continue serving Him. He allows me to love and stay connected to my children and grandchildren.
When we were in Ecuador and had groups of volunteers from the States to come in and help, we always instructed them to prepare to share their testimonies. We wanted them to be able to tell not only how they first came to Christ but also what God had done for them after that day and what He was doing in their lives right then.
The beauty of your testimony is that it is unlike anyone else's, and no one can argue with it. After all, it is the story of what happened and IS HAPPENING, of what God did then and what He is still doing.
It's Christmastime, a natural setting for sharing the God moments of your life. Let me encourage you to tell someone how you came to Christ and how He continues to guide you -- even during a year like 2020.
Acts 1:8 -- "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Jeremiah 1:7-8 -- "But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you to deliver you, declares the Lord.”
1 Peter 3:15 -- "But in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect,"
Mark 16:15 -- "And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation."