Sharing Your Testimony: An Introduction

13 Mar

If you’re anything like me, the first image to enter your mind when someone says you ought to give your “testimony”, is standing in front of a large group of people, your palms sweaty and voice trembling as you tell a story that may or may not actually be that interesting.  “Real” testimonies involve dramatic change: “I was once a drug-dealing, womanizing, alcoholic member of the Hell’s Angels.  Then Jesus changed me and I deal in the gospel, love my daughters, don’t drink, and run a mile from motorcyclists.”  My testimony isn’t at all like that, so it surely isn’t something that anyone is going to want to hear!  Right?

Wrong!  One of the wonders of God’s work is that it looks different in each one of us – and for good reason.  You can bet that the person who thinks that they’re living a pretty decent life isn’t going to be as deeply affected by the story of the reformed biker as they will by the testimony of the church kid who discovered that they need Jesus too!  While your “God Story” might not be that dramatic, you can bet that it has a special place in bringing others to Christ.

So what exactly is a testimony?  The word frequently translated as “testimony” in our English Bibles actually comes from the Greek term “marturio” from which we get “martyr”.  Biblically speaking, these weren’t just people who died for Christ.  In fact, once they’d died, in a strict sense, their active “marturio” had ended.  To be a “martyr” was to demonstrate Christ’s activity in their daily lives and not just to demonstrate it, but to speak of it.  It was a distinct, formal confirmation of Christ’s value.  Webster’s Dictionary gives us a very similar picture, defining a testimony as “evidence” or “an oral or written statement made under oath”.  A “testimonial” is “a statement concerning the character of a person or value of a thing”.

When I first read this, I was rather taken aback.  Following that line of thinking, a Christian testimony becomes any evidence concerning the character of Christ or His value in our lives.  A testimony isn’t just a list of bad things that we did in the past and it doesn’t always revolve around the tale of how we met Christ.

This revelation was particularly valuable to me since I was saved at the age of six.  My testimony in the sense of “How I came to Jesus” is really pretty uninteresting.  I heard a sermon, realized that I had broken God’s rules, and that I needed Him to put things right.  End of story.  If you recognize that a testimony is a statement about the character or value of Christ in your life, however, most of us find that our testimony totally rocks.

For example, my testimony now looks a little bit like this:

I was saved on October 31, 1989.  While most people recognize this day as Halloween, a few others know it as “Reformation Day” – the anniversary of the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the door of the Wittenberg Cathedral.  Within a month, two things had become apparent:

The first was that God had gifted me as an evangelist.  I didn’t care how old you were or what your life looked like, you needed to hear about Jesus and I was going to tell you.  (I think this made my parents a little nervous at first.)

The second was that God had gifted me with the written word.  My First Grade teacher gave everyone in my class a single piece of paper and asked us to write a Christmas story.  When we were finished, we could return to the front for another piece of paper and write a second story.  I returned 19 times and, when I’d finished, I hadn’t written 20 Christmas stories, but 1 – the life of Christ from birth to resurrection.  I remember being asked why I hadn’t ended with the Wise Men.  The answer?  The story didn’t end there!  And it hasn’t ended yet!

Clearly there isn’t much to tell about my life before Jesus saved me, but there’s certainly plenty of interest that can be communicated about my life after that blessed encounter.  And you can rest assured that your life is the source of a few decent “God Stories” too!  Next week, we’ll take a look at some of the different testimonies presented to us within the pages of Scripture and what those stories have to teach us about how we tell our own.  Meanwhile, why not share your “God Story” (dramatic or otherwise) in the comment box below?

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17 Responses to “Sharing Your Testimony: An Introduction”

  1. linneann June 8, 2012 at 09:17 #

    The fact that you have not wavered in your faith since the age of six is a great testimony in itself.

    • acgheen June 8, 2012 at 09:25 #

      I consider myself distinctly blessed on that account. I’ve been spared much of the heartache which precedes a conversion later in life and this, through no merit of my own!

  2. Peggi Tustan (@PeggiTustan) June 8, 2012 at 21:10 #

    Wow, Anna, I am amazed that within a month of coming to Christ your giftedness as an evangelist and writer became apparent – at the age of six. What a blessing to have such clear direction so early. It’s beautiful to watch you use your gifts for His glory!

    I wrote my “God Story” in a blog post a couple of months ago. It’s called “The One Thing Worth Pursuing” (http://peggitustan.blogspot.com/2012/03/peggi-i-used-to-be.html)

  3. Butch Dias June 9, 2012 at 08:05 #

    Awesome testimony, When I got saved people asked me to share my testimony. I didn’t want to. I didn’t want everyone to know that I was bad. I didn’t want everyone to know that I was a drug dealer and an alcoholic, that I partied and slept around with women. I wanted them to see the new Butch.
    Then God spoke to me through Revelation 12:11. We become over comers through the blood that He shed and the word of our testimony. I never realized how powerful it could be. When I shared healing was brought to me and others.I shared people came to Jesus, because of what Jesus did to me. It was living proof that God is still alive and working here today.

  4. Kimberly McPherson June 9, 2012 at 17:07 #

    Anna, I think your testimony is amazing and encouraging.
    I know for myself I was raised Christian and chose to be baptized at the age of 17. It may have sealed my fait but I still did horrible things to myself in the years following my baptism. I became enthralled in an eating disorder, self mutilation, drug abusing, partying and sleeping around. I am not proud of what I did but, it was because of those things that I realized my head wasn’t on straight and I needed to seek help.
    I nearly died on many accounts only to be saved from every attempt. I didn’t understand how God could love someone as wretched as myself. It was while in treatment for my eating disorder and other things that I fully turned over a new leaf and gave over control to my maker, God. I was told that if I was to keep going the way that I was that I would die a terribly suffered death within 48 hours. It was then that I chose to surrender and prayed like I never had for the Lord to forgive me and heal me. He did just that. I walked back into the admitting room where they first took my vitals and said I would have to be tube fed immediately and hooked up to all different types of machines in order to get my body back on track and I asked them to retake my vitals. Lo and behold once I finally convinced them to they came back normal and all I had to have done was to be tube fed for a couple of weeks in order for my body to begin to take in nourishment. This was a far cry from when I first stepped foot into that place. The doctors and nurses were astonished that my vitals could go from nearly dead to close to normal in a matter of hours. I knew then it was the work of God.
    Since my release I began to suffer from debilitating panic attacks among other things. During these bouts of panic and mania I was drugged beyond imagination since I suffered from seizures because of the panic attacks that were happening over 30 times a day. The doctors just kept pouring liquid xanax into my system every time I would awaken with another bout of panic that would make me nearly seize out of my hospital bed. During one of my hospital stays I finally gained a moment of clarity and screamed out “NO MORE DRUGS”! I realized that all they were doing was placing a blanket over my deep rooted problems and not fixing anything. I continued to panic and seize for days and had to be institutionalized. While in the psychiatric hospital I continued to have panic attacks that made me see actual spiritual warfare in front of my very eyes. I could see angels and demons fighting over my soul. I thought I was going crazy because there were no windows in my room and I continuously saw darkness and light fighting each other. In one of my deepest bouts of panic I remembered that if you were to say in the name of Jesus I command you to flee then all evil will flee because they are scared “poopless” of the mention of His name.
    I screamed at the top of my lungs “Father, I give EVERYTHING to you and in the name of JESUS I command all evil to leave”. it was like lightning struck down from heaven and at that moment the darkness fled from my room and my room was lit up with an amazing, spectacular light that was so warm and inviting. I saw hundreds of angels filling my room to the brim and felt a peace like never before come over me and calmed my seizing in an instant. At the time i thought I was just seeing things but I knew that the panic was gone. After a few days without panic i was finally dismissed from the hospital. Once I got home the panic started again and every time all I had to do was mention the name of my precious savior Jesus and the panic would flee. After a few months of going back and forth with this panic I decided that until I became deep rooted in his word and prayed over my house then nothing was ever going to change.
    I started my quest immediately and during this quest I had a Mexican carpenter working on my house that kept calling me God’s princess. I didn’t understand why he kept calling me this but I was too weak to really put much thought into it. He spoke no other words of English except You are God’s princess. It really made me question his sanity to be honest with you, but who was I to judge anyone’s sanity. Finally one day he came to me with tears in his eyes and had brought his son that spoke English with him that day. His son said my father has something to tell you and I’m going to interpret for him. He insisted that I call my mother and father before he would tell me anything. My parents thankfully raced to my side and the precious Mexican carpenter told us to hold hands because we were going to pray. We all held hands in a circle in my kitchen and he began to speak in Spanish while his son interpreted what he was saying. During this prayer he said that God had been speaking to him in a booming voice that would not leave him alone and let him work. He continued to say I am not just here to fix your house I am here to fix your home. He kept saying that God would not let him be until he told me that I had a job that needed to be done for God. He stated that he knew I had a dozen journals in my room that needed to be used to write a book. Not just one book mind you, but many books. These books were to change the way that the world viewed God.
    Okay, step back I thought. How in the world was this man to know that all my life I had written my prayers in journals especially when I was in times of need? How did he know the exact number and how did he know that my wish in life was to be able to use these struggles to help bring others to Christ? Also, how in the world was I to accomplish such a task seeing that I am dyslexic, cannot spell, had ADHD, learning disabilities, and English/Language was my worst subject in school? All of these thoughts were racing through my mind and all I could do was sit there and sob.
    He continued to say that God knew my struggles and as long as I relied upon Him then He was going to help me accomplish this task. He began to speak to my parents saying that I needed encouragement and support in every way possible and to not question the work of God. He stated that my struggles had not been in vain and they would help me on this journey more than I could ever imagine. He said please do not question what I am telling you, please know that this is coming from the Lord himself and not from me. At this point all of us were sobbing terribly yet I felt that peace come over me once again letting me know that it was all going to pan out in God’s time.
    Since this divine intervention I had been told the same thing from two other complete strangers. I began transcribing my hand written journals into type immediately. I also started a blog http://www.withoutalabel.me to get feedback on my writing and to try to bring those that suffer from things like mental illness some help and inspiration. I am hoping that by starting with a blog I will eventually be published.
    Anna, I think what you are doing is phenomenal and I wish you abundant blessings on your journey.
    Much love,
    Kimmy

    • V B Browning July 6, 2012 at 12:02 #

      PRAISE GOD for your conversion and your re-dedication! I can identify with you…I, too went thu a terrible period in my younger days…tried to be the opposite of everything I had been taught growing up (in church all the time). God will never give up on us if we believe and TRUST HIM to do what is right for us…and now lean to our own understanding. Walk by faith, Kimmy…it’s the only way to Heaven ❤

      • V B Browning July 6, 2012 at 12:04 #

        …I meant…NOT lean to our own understanding!

  5. Rev. Gabriel T. Kumeh June 10, 2012 at 09:01 #

    Thanks,
    Kimmy yours had also been a great blessing to me personally. As much I would like to thank Anna for sharing; may I let you know you too have so much a blessing.

    Anna & Kimmy keep up the good works.
    Blessings,
    Gabriel

  6. Lyn Deutsch June 12, 2012 at 07:26 #

    I’m very blessed with your writing and Kim’s testimony. God bless you beyond measure and continue to use you for His glory!

  7. Steven June 14, 2012 at 08:08 #

    Hi all. Kim, you did it again – I felt like Sandra Bullock in Blind Side, having to go to my room and have a cry – Okay i didn’t cry, but I had a moment. Thanks Anna for this opportunity, I can really relate.

    To tell you about me means first telling you about my Dad. I grew up in a christian home. I’ve always kind of been in the shadow of my father (then again my whole family have been). He was a larger than life character – always the life of the party, and a natural born leader. God anointed him as a teenager when he was considering suicide after a battle with epilepsy – back then no one knew what it was – the church banished him saying he was possessed. And then one day, whilst weeping on the banks of the nearby Princess vlei (lake), thinking of throwing himself in, he had a vision of Jesus, where his true calling was highlighted. He became a missionary, evangelist and later a pastor. his true gift though – amongst prophesying, speaking and translating tongues, teaching and mentoring – was undoubtedly Preaching… he could captivate like few others, and deliver Gods message to all kinds both intellectuals and rural tribesmen in southern Africa. He often didn’t need a microphone to preach because his voice was so loud, earning the nickname “Die beck” – ‘the mouth’
    I say all this to give you indication of the man that was my father… I gave my life to the Lord aged 5, when he took me to see the Power Team at the local Three Arts theatre… I would later accompany him on Mission trips, the first was to Namibia in 1996, I was ten… (of the four children he has, I am his only son).
    He taught us to maintain and pursue a relationship with God,for that is the core of our faith. When he died seven year ago, I was 19, the same age he was when his Dad died. And with his death I lost a father, my guidance counselor and my best friend.
    A woman told my mother that my father was this big oak tree, and we, his family, were the shrubs and bushes at his base; and now that he has been cut down, the Lord intends for us to grow spiritually, no longer in the shadow of my father. I was baptized in 2008 (late i know, but i wanted a full understanding of it) by my uncle(my Dad’s youngest brother, now also a missionary after being mentored by my father)

    So yes, apart from his death, I have had no real traumatic event, or debilitating illness which the Lord delivered me from, but I have experienced him.
    A couple of years ago a man came to service the electric motors of our garage doors, and after he was done he asked me if he could “have a word”; and then he prayed over my life, delivering a message for me that God had laid upon his heart , about the plans he has for my life – a man I have never met, seen or come into contact with since… there’s no other feeling like, when you know that God is looking at you directly – yes we pray, and we know him and he knows and loves all of us – but the power in those words “God wants me to tell you this…” and knowing in that moment: signed sealed delivered, God has his eyes on you!

    I am a writer, an introvert – even social networking is an effort for me. I am more often, NOT the life of the party, and I do not have a loud voice… but I have Jesus, and his word over and within my life, to lean on him as I deal with the knowledge of what one man told me: “that I will meet and achieve greater things than my father” .

    (http://stevenbenjamin.weebly.com/)
    God’s richest blessings on all
    Steven

    • rm harrington September 22, 2014 at 09:40 #

      Hi, Anna. Popped over here from linked in because I found the title interesting. Although I have never had any problem sharing my testimony (God has done too much for me to worry about what men think), I do see that some people would feel very nervous. Yet how anyone can refrain that voice of wonder, excitement and thanksgiving that follows salvation is beyond my true understanding.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

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