You are reading in your living room and your oldest child walks in and asks you “Why do people get Baptized?” Your coworker is annoyed and demands in the break room “Why are you always so positive?” Your church begins an outreach program in your local park. There you meet an exhausted grandmother raising her two young grandkids. “Why are you guys helping us?” she asks. It may seem overwhelming to give your testimony, but all of these situations are times when you are getting the amazing chance to talk about the greatest thing that has ever happened to you.
It doesn’t take a seminary education to give your testimony, but you might want to put some thought into it ahead of time. I’ve heard so many people say they are afraid they will mess it up. Don’t think so little of God! If he has put you in a place where you have a chance to share your faith, take it. He has allowed you the blessing of being present when he is at work in a person’s life! Giving your testimony is telling your story of how you encountered God and he changed your life.
Let’s look at a testimony expert. Paul had a radical conversion experience. He spoke about it before the major rulers of his day as well as planted many churches in towns across the known world. Check Acts 22 to see how he described his own encounter with God.
Begin With Your Former Life
Paul starts off by describing his former life. There is no question that something is different from before his encounter on the Damascus road. He doesn’t sugarcoat anything. He was so committed to the persecution of Christianity, that he traveled from Jerusalem in order to find and imprison Christians. Acts 8:3 confirms this and goes so far as to say that Paul (Saul at the time) was “ravaging the church.’ Believers in other towns had heard of him and feared him.
Begin with what your life was like before you became a believer. I became a Christian when I was five, so I don’t have the same story of turnaround that Paul had. However, I distinctly remember that I felt I was good enough to get into heaven. The realization of my sinful heart was the same experience Paul had when Jesus confronted him on the Damascus road.
Tell the Facts
When Paul gives his testimony, he sticks to the facts. Though I can’t imagine the emotions involved in hearing the voice of Jesus and being struck blind in the middle of the road, Paul just states what happens.
Emotions can fluctuate so widely and so quickly. Not every person experiences overwhelming emotion at their conversion. That’s okay. The facts stay the same, regardless on the emotion you have in the moment. I realized that I was a sinner, I knew that there was no way around my sin unless I asked God to get involved. Jesus paid the price for my sin when he died on the cross.
It’s as simple as that. If God is moving in a person who hears your story, he is speaking directly to their heart. Simply tell the story of how you encountered your Savior, and leave the rest to him.
Tell the Result
A part of your testimony should include what has happened since you made this decision. Paul heard God’s call to go to the Gentiles. Talk about a major life change! He went from a dedication to persecuting Christians, to leaving his home and traveling for years to see this message spread as far as possible. Spend more time talking about this part of your story. Everyone is a sinner, but not everyone has experienced Jesus changing their life.
You might not be called to travel the world, but you can talk about what God has done where he has put you. He has placed you in a workplace. How does your relationship with God affect your behavior there? You are in the neighborhood and family where he designed for you to be. Share how your life looks because of God’s intervention, compared to how it looked before.
Keep it Simple
You can give your testimony very simply. I condensed this all into a bullet list to go through:
- Tell what your life was like before you encountered Jesus.
- Tell how God got your attention. (What made you realize you needed to change?)
- Stick to the facts. Just leave out emotions and feelings and tell what happened.
- Talk about how your life is different now. Spend the most time talking about how your life has changed and what God is doing right now in your life.
Some Verses to Use
It’s a great idea to lean on Scripture when you have a chance to give your testimony. You may have many verses that are near and dear to your heart, and if you have certain passages that were integral in your journey, definitely share them. If you aren’t really sure which verses to use, here are a couple that help sum up why we need salvation and how we receive it.
The first is Romans 5:8 “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” This verse works whether someone is struggling with the magnitude of their sin, or whether they feel they really aren’t that bad. It tells that we are all sinners, but reaffirms that in our sinful state, God still died for us.
Another one I like is Romans 10:9 “because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” It quickly summarizes how to be saved. I hope that you add to these as you practice giving your testimony. There are so many great passages, and if you know more verses, you can chose one for the situation you are in. But this is a great place to begin. It’s a good idea to study the Bible on a regular basis, get some tips on Bible study here.
One Last Thing
Leave the results to God. as you come to the end of Acts 22, you will not see crowds of people who turn to God. You see an angry mob calling for Paul’s execution. Your job is not to convince someone. Your job is to obey.
This is really good news! Whether or not you are successful at sharing your testimony doesn’t hinge on someone responding to your story in a positive way. Instead, it is about you responding in obedience to God.
Read more about how to make obedience a priority in your life here.