By Joseph Ametepe
One of the most powerful and proven ways of spreading the good news of Jesus Christ is sharing your personal testimony. Your personal testimony is simply a story of what Jesus Christ did and is doing in your life. It is a story of making known to others how Jesus has transformed your life through the power of the good news. This is a story that is well-known to you because it happened and is still happening in your life. Unfortunately, some Christians do not know how to go about writing their personal testimonies in a way that is clear, concise, and convincing, with a passionate concern for the glory of God. Just a few weeks ago, I had the privilege of teaching a brother I am discipling about how to shape and share his personal testimony. Little did I know that my lesson with this brother would also bless his believing wife. For several days, she attempted to write her personal testimony but could not. She said, she would sit in front of the computer and just stare at it. She just didn't know where to begin nor how to end it in order to bring honor and praise to God for all He's done and is doing in her life. In frustration, she would turn off the computer and walk away. She would try the next day, but there was no positive result. She was getting desperate until one night after my teaching session with her husband, she had a breakthrough. Her husband had shared with her the lesson he had learned from our time together. She said, "that was all I needed." The lights were turned on for her. The next day, armed with fresh insight, she got on her computer to write her personal testimony. She knew where to start and how to end to bring honor to God. Following the simple biblical principles outlined to her from the lesson I had with her husband, she was able to write her personal testimony for the first time in her life. What brought more joy to my heart was that, she in turn, shared the principles with her family members who are believers. Her plan is to get all of them to write their personal testimonies. She would later collect these testimonies and make them into a family book for the younger generations to read. How wonderful! Thanks be to God! I believe God can lead you into wonderful ways of not only preserving your personal testimonies but more importantly, presenting it to others who need to hear the story of what the Lord Jesus has done and is still doing in your life.
Basic Reason for Writing Your Personal Testimony
Why should I write my personal testimony? Is there any need for that in my life? What difference does it make for me to write my personal testimony? Perhaps you have asked those questions before. Perhaps the answers you received to these questions did not satisfy you. Therefore, you have not made any serious effort about writing your personal testimony. Please listen, I do not have any eloquent or lofty answer to give you. My purpose here is to give you the basic reason for writing your personal testimony, that is, simply this: Your story of what Jesus has done and is doing in your life is worth telling others about. That story may not be dramatic and filled with great suspense, yet it is worth sharing. Why? It is a tangible evidence of the grace of God at work in your life. Sharing the story of God's grace in your life is a powerful way of promoting the glory of God in your life. The exercise of writing itself, gives you the opportunity to reflect on God's work in your life. It also forces you to state what Jesus has done and is doing in your life in clear and concise terms. In other words, writing your personal testimony helps you become exact. It is sad to say that some Christians just beat around the bush when called upon to share their testimony. Others say a ton, but miss the essentials. There is no excuse for these sad ways of sharing our testimonies. Why? By writing out our personal testimonies, we can cut out the "fluff" and the "excessive ramblings" and all "the rabbit trails" that do not lead anywhere. This is the basic reason for writing your personal testimony. You become clear, concise and convincing. A Christian couple shares this insight about writing and sharing your personal testimony: "When given effectively, in the power of the Holy Spirit, a testimony will (a) help you identify with the listener, (b) open stubborn hearts, and (c) provide opportunity for sharing the gospel in a non-threatening way." -Al and Lorraine Broom: One-To-One Evangelism. This expands on the basic reason for writing your personal testimony.
Biblical Principles to Follow in Writing Your Personal Testimony
The Bible presents us with four principles to follow in shaping and sharing our personal testimony. These principles come largely from the life of Apostle Paul. But someone says, "Paul's conversion was dramatic. Mine is not. Why should I pattern my testimony after his?" Please listen, the principles from Paul's life are not dependent on the drama of his conversion. Rather, they present us with a proven and powerful way of shaping and sharing our personal testimonies. These principles are so important that God saw to it that they are repeated in the Bible. Paul related his personal testimony to the Galatians as well as to kings and governors. His personal testimony to the Galatians is recorded in Galatians 1:13-24 while the other is recorded in Acts 26:4-29. In each of these passages, Paul was defending himself and his ministry. But he did so by sharing his personal testimony. Please take time to read these passages and familiarize yourself with them. The four biblical principles we discover from the presentation of Paul's personal testimony are as follows: (1) Past life:-your life before meeting Jesus, (2) Point of Conversion:-how Jesus changed your life, (3) Present life:-what Jesus is doing in your life now, and (4) Passion in life:-what passion has God given you to pursue in life?
In reading Galatians 1:13-14 and Acts 26:4-5, 8-12, where Paul described his past life, we discover that he was very brief. He didn't beat around the bush. He didn't ramble. He didn't waste words. He was concise. He touched on the highlights of his past life that clearly revealed that he was living a life that was opposed to God. He was a religious rebel. The key to writing about your past life is being concise in relating to others how your life did not please God. That's the key. In his former life, Paul was very religious, but his life was not pleasing to God. God was not impressed about his religiosity.
In both Galatians 1:15-16a and Acts 26:19-26, we find that Paul did not leave any room for ambiguity about his conversion. He was very clear about that. He had met Jesus and Jesus had radically transformed his life. Paul made it clear that there was a definite change in the direction of his life. Please listen! If Jesus Christ has come into your life and begun His work of changing you into His likeness, you would also be very clear about the change He's brought in the direction of your life. For Paul, that change was dramatic and radical. Yours may not be dramatic, but certainly, it must be radical. Why? The direction of your life has been changed. Notice in Galatians 1:15, Paul was led to say, "But when He who had set me apart, even from my mother's womb, and called me through His grace." The conjunction "but" (Greek: de), speaks of a definite change in the direction of Paul's life. In other words, Paul's life took a one hundred and eighty degree turn. His life had an about turn. Jesus changed the direction of his life.
The essential guiding principle for writing about your point of conversion is clarity regarding the change in the direction of your life upon meeting Jesus and submitting to His gracious work in you. I hear people say, "I've always been a Christian." When I hear that I cringe. What this statement reveals is that these people were born Christians. There was no about turn in their lives. They've been going in the same direction since they were born. There was no point in their lives when they encountered Jesus to turn their lives around. We all know very well that no one is born a Christian. Being born to Christian parents doesn't mean you are a Christian at birth. So the next time you hear someone say, "I've always been a Christian," probe more carefully and discern if the person really had a genuine life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ. Even if you were saved as a child, the direction of your life has been changed. Your testimony must clearly reveal the "But Jesus" change of direction in your life.
In Galatians 1:16b-23 and Acts 26:19-26, Paul convincingly stated what Jesus did in his life after his conversion experience. Paul knew he had personally encountered the Risen Lord. He also knew that the Risen Lord had begun a good work in him. Paul was convinced of Jesus' call upon his life to spread the good news to Jews and Gentiles alike. Paul was definitely responsive to the work Jesus had been doing in his life. With deep conviction, he declared to King Agrippa, "I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision. First to those in Damascus, then to those in Jerusalem and in all Judea, and to the Gentiles also, I preached that they should repent and turn to God and prove their repentance by their deeds" (Acts 26:19-20). In this statement, we learn that Paul revealed that he was not following his own direction in life, but that of Jesus Christ, who is not only his Savior, but also his Lord. In other words, Paul specifically stressed to his audience the positive changes Jesus brought into his life. In other words, his new life was full of changes. Once, he was a persecutor of the church, but now Jesus had transformed him to be a preacher of the gospel. Once, he was religious, but now he had a personal saving relationship with Jesus Christ. Once, he was hostile to the name of Jesus of Nazareth, but now he had been changed into a humble servant of Jesus. These positive changes reflect the work Jesus had been doing in Paul's life. Regarding your present life, write your personal testimony with conviction of heart so that those who hear your story would know that Jesus has indeed begun a good work in your life and that you are responding to Him and following His direction for your life. In other words, your story of what Jesus is doing in your life now must emphasize the key positive changes He's brought into your life. Christianity is about Christ and the changes He brings into our lives. That should be evidenced in your personal testimony.
From Galatians 1:24 and Acts 26:27-29, we learn that God had given Paul a passion to pursue in life. Simply stated, this passion was leading unbelievers to faith in Jesus Christ for the glory of God. Paul's concern was for the honor of Jesus Christ. He wanted Jesus Christ to receive all the praise. His passion was not to promote his own honor. It was to promote the honor of God among the Jews and Gentiles. I believe every believer has a God-given passion to pursue that brings honor and praise to God. This is where shaping and sharing your personal is important. God has given me a passion for Himself and His Word to equip and edify believers and to evangelize the lost for the praise of His glorious name. Yours may be leading God's people to worship at His throne. For another, it may be encouraging people. When God works through you to encourage someone you are so fulfilled. You rejoice in praising God for using you to touch the life of one of His own. Whatever, your passion, live it and share it so that others will give glory to God. In other words, end your testimony in such a way that others see your passionate concern for the glory of God. It is sad that some Christians tell their testimonies as if it's all about them. They receive the honor, not Jesus Christ. Please avoid that. Jesus and He alone should receive the honor and praise for what He's done and is doing in your life. It's now time for you to write your personal testimony. It is important at this point to pray and ask for God's wisdom to write your testimony. After praying, follow these four biblical principles and write the story of what Jesus has done and is doing in your life. From Paul's examples, I suggest your personal testimony be one page in length. At most two pages. Be concise, clear, and convincing! Above all, let your story show your passionate concern for the glory of Jesus Christ for all He's done and is doing in your life.
Before Sharing Your Personal Testimony With People.
Now that you've successfully written your personal testimony, what do you do next? You don't shelf it. You share it. But before sharing your personal, I suggest that you first approach a mentor or a spiritual leader in your church, or someone you respect and know who is walking with God to help you evaluate your testimony. Or you can ask your spouse if he or she is a believer a few questions in the evaluation process. Ask the following questions: Is my personal testimony clear and convincing? Does it emphasize the positive changes Christ brought into my life? Does it give glory to Jesus Christ?
After your evaluation, I suggest you pray and ask God to open a door of opportunity for you to share your personal testimony. Pray also to be led by the Holy Spirit. He is the One who convicts people of sin. He is the One who woos, warns, and wins them to Jesus. He is the One who helps them see that they are sinners in need of a Savior, who is Jesus Christ. So please don't leave Him out. If He is not leading and guiding you, your sharing will be a failure. It will be a great disappointment for you. You need the Holy Spirit in sharing your testimony and spreading the good news of Jesus Christ. Since God wants others to hear of the good news of His saving grace, He will certainly open a door for you to share your story and will fill you with the Holy Spirit to be His effective witness. Begin to share your testimony. Remember, it is worth telling others about.