Trevor Dickerson encourages us to give our testimony
When we are making a significant purchase, like a car or a computer, we might look on the web or perhaps search the shops for what we are looking for.
Many of us will also take the time to check and see if what we are proposing to buy is good value for money, is reliable and has the features we need. The thing that may finally sway us in our decision is that it has a personal recommendation from a friend or work colleague, someone we trust.
Pulling or pushing?
When we think about being effective in reaching others with the gospel message, I’m reminded that over 78% of people are helped to find Jesus Christ as Lord and saviour because they have been befriended by a Christian like you and me. This means that you and I can have an impact – for the furtherance of the gospel.
However, we must also be reminded that our actions and words can also be a barrier to others. What we say and do can pull people towards faith in Christ, or push them away. Perhaps we need to bear this in mind before we open our mouth – does what I say hinder or further the work of the gospel?
Paul says ‘to one we are the smell of death; to the other, the fragrance of life’. (2 Corinthians 2.16).
You may be asking: ‘How can I speak to folk and be effective in sharing Christ?’.
One way that Jesus encouraged others to commend faith in God was for them to share their testimony.
Take a few moments to look at Mark 5.19-20: ‘Jesus said, “Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.” So the man went away and began to tell in the Ten Cities how much Jesus had done for him and all the people were amazed’.
You could also look up these passages: John 4.39-42; John 9.25; Acts 26.
How can we use our testimony?
If we are going to be able to share about our faith in Jesus, how we became Christians and what that means for our lives, then we are going to need to learn to listen. It is no accident that we have one mouth, but two ears. If we listen to people, then we will have opportunities to share about our saviour.
If you read Acts 26 you will notice how Paul shared his testimony. It is in three parts. The ﬁrst is Paul sharing about his life before he met Jesus; the second is about how he met Jesus; and the third is about what changes have taken place because of his personal relationship with Jesus.
If we want to reach others with the gospel, our testimony can be a powerful tool to do so – perhaps you might want to write yours down, memorise it, and then use it.
In Acts 26, Paul uses a progression in how he speaks of his faith in Christ. He starts by talking about his life before he came to know Christ. We should make mention of this in our own testimonies. People need to know where we are coming from. But it’s important that we don’t spend too much time on this aspect, or make it too glamorous! We need to be real and not exaggerate. We might not all have been into sex, drugs and rock & roll before finding faith in Jesus Christ, but we can still speak of our own experiences. We may have had a Christian family background, as I did. We may have found school, home or work life difficult. Being able to share our real experiences is important. We must move on to talk about how and why we needed Jesus Christ to be our Saviour and Lord – and how this came about.
How we came to Christ
This is the second part of our testimony – and in many ways, the most important. In other words, we are explaining to our listener that Jesus came to save them too. They too can come to know his forgiveness, love and grace. We might, if time and opportunity arise, go on to share what our faith in Christ means to us today – yes, our testimony is always new and fresh, it’s always being brought up to date as God works in our lives – with illustrations of how God has spoken to us, how he has helped us in all sorts of different life experiences and how he speaks to us through his Word, the Bible, and through spending time with him in prayer. Make a note of these things and have them ready to share with others.
We mustn’t focus on ourselves, but on Christ – it is he who people need to come to know. Having listened to the person you are speaking with, you may only share part of your story – because that is relevant to that individual at that time. But then look for further opportunities to share the rest. We need to scratch people where they itch. In other words, having listened, what we say will be applicable to this individual. Another writer put it like this: ‘Every person is an island. We need to row around them until we can find a place to land’. Look for an opportunity for the gospel message to cross from you to them – through the work of God’s Spirit.
Try the two minute rule
Our testimonies are a powerful tool to use in recommending Jesus as saviour and Lord.
What’s the two minute rule? You might want to try out your testimony with another Christian friend – take two minutes each to share your stories. Be strict; this might be all the time you have when on a bus or train with the person next to you. Remember, you might only want to share part of it in real life, but in the exercise try sharing your whole testimony in two minutes!
If you’ve been listening to someone talking about themselves or their lives, look out for natural opportunities, like a similar situation in your own life where your faith has helped. Perhaps you might say, ‘Thank you for sharing with me about those experiences, I had a similar one myself, I know it wasn’t quite like yours, but I found that, when I prayed about it, God really helped me through it, I had a sense of peace and stability – even though it was still there.’ We mustn’t say: ‘I know exactly how you feel’. We don’t and can’t, but we can have sympathy and use our testimony to explain how our faith in Jesus Christ helps us, giving us hope and security, or freedom or peace.
We might not always get thing right. If you make a hash of sharing your testimony, confess it to God and ask him to use you again. God is bigger than our errors!
On the lookout each day
How about looking for an opportunity each day to share your testimony with the people you meet. Pray for an opportunity. I’ve found it is a prayer that God loves to respond to. I’ve been out and about, just getting on with daily life when I meet someone who, sometimes to my amazement, is open to listening to my story about faith in God.
If I’m visiting the community around the church, I nearly always ask if people are interested in ‘spiritual things’. Many want to know about the spiritual side to life, but don’t know what to believe, or who to ask. I don’t ask if people are interested in the Bible, or in church, but leave it very open – to encourage a response.
In the same way that we might recommend a product that has been useful, so we can recommend Jesus as the only saviour – my saviour!