It has been said that to learn from one’s own experience is “smart”;
to learn from the experience of others is “wisdom.”
One valuable feature of living within a faith-informed recovery community is testimonies. We gain strength and confidence in our journey as we hear stories of resilience and overcoming shared by others who have trusted in God and found him faithful.
The art of testimony, of witnessing to others through our own experience, requires that we understand the lesson we are hoping to communicate. Ideally, our experience offers hope and assurance that one is never beyond a fresh start to a new life. The message, communicated well, is that God is always ready to help us and restore us when we are honest and sincere in confessing our sins to him and desire to be restored to relationship with him.
At Titus 2 we have adapted guidelines offered by several Christian ministries and give our women the opportunity to write and share their own testimonies before they leave Titus 2.
If individuals do not respond to our testimony as we expect, let it go. At the end of the day, we are only responsible for faithfulness in sharing what we know about Christ. We are not responsible for others’ response to the message of the Gospel through our witness. God will use our words and experiences to speak to those he has brought our way. Whatever a hearer gets out of it God will use either immediately or at some future time. We may be used to plant a seed that will not sprout for some time to come. We do not need to know the outcome to trust that we have been used by God in the lives of others.
It is our hope that any person hearing another’s testimony would find something worthy to take into her heart….. that one might be moved to conviction, confession, and joyful new life in Christ. However, some will simply say, “Wow. I never knew that about you” and think to themselves, “I’m glad I’m not like that…….”, “I’m different from this person. This doesn’t apply to my life…….”, or “I’m smart enough to avoid the pitfalls that she fell in.”
Each of those kinds of responses reflect a pharisee-like blindness, like the story Jesus told in Luke 18:9-14 of the Pharisee who watched a publican, a despised tax collector, praying in the temple.
“Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:
10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.
11 The self-righteous one stood by himself and prayed this prayer: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!
12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’
13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’
14 I tell you, this sinner, not the self-righteous one, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
• Who we are is revealed by what we say
• Self-righteous pride is unacceptable to GOD
• A broken and a contrite heart as revealed by the tax collector was the basis of his receiving GOD’s mercy and grace
• Men may hate you and what you do – collecting taxes – and they may love you as an outstanding man in the community and church – it doesn’t mean a hill of beans to GOD. What counts is our deep need for forgiveness and humility of spirit before GOD
• Both were sincere in their self-estimation of themselves
• We do not know if their prayers were audible or silent – GOD reads the thoughts, and knew what each was praying
• The one saw himself as a virtuous man, the tax collector saw himself as a sinner…
The Pharisee’s virtue was destroyed by pride.
The tax collector’s humility opened the Kingdom of GOD to himself.
If we are wise, we will observe the example of others and listen to their testimony, recognize that sinfulness exists in the life of every person, including us, and find ourselves declaring, “There but for the grace of God go I!”
Suggestions for Giving a Christ-Honoring and Winsome Testimony (Titus 2 Guidelines)
Giving a personal testimony is one of the best ways to present salvation to all sorts of people. People are interested in and can identify with a true human interest story. Sharing the story of Jesus’ work in your own life and what salvation means to you shows that you are interested in others. Furthermore, you are obeying the charge in the Great Commission of Acts 1:6-8! As an added blessing, you will experience the reality of the presence, guidance and empowerment of your partner, the Holy Spirit – John 15:26; Acts 1:8; 5:32!
You may be giving your testimony to a friend, a co-worker, someone that you meet on the street, or in a church service or other group venue. Here are a few guidelines that will make your testimony the kind that others will like and that will bring glory to Christ. We ask that you honor these guidelines in your presentation of your testimony at Titus 2 and elsewhere with our students:
1.) Realize what is at stake: the destiny of the souls of people. You are representing Jesus Christ. II Cor. 5:18-20.
2.) Ask the Lord to give you wisdom and guidance in preparing and presenting your testimony.
3.) Begin with an interesting, attention-getting sentence and close with a good conclusion. Include relevant, thought provoking facts and experiences.
4.) Consider the audience and offer it in such a way that others will feel associated with you (as a mother, as a student, as one growing up in the church, as one who never attended church, as one with “hurts, habits, and hang ups”, etc. ).
5.) Give enough details to arouse interest but not so much that it becomes sensationalistic or overly graphic. Remember, the emphasis is on Christ and His work, not your prior life in sin. Note especially that graphic descriptions of activities like drug use, violence, or sexual encounters can be an emotional trigger that causes one with addiction to have unwanted memories or to crave drug use. We do not allow “war stories”, as they can be uncomfortable for listeners who have had similar experiences and are still working to overcome their own past. References to specific drugs or methods of using are inappropriate. We don’t want to inadvertently further educate people about substance use and abuse or cause them flashbacks and triggers.
6.) You should always have a general outline already in your mind. You can give your testimony in two or three minutes to an hour or more. You never know when or for how long you may be called on to give a testimony. Prepare for those “elevator moments” and for the longer opportunity that the Lord may give!
7.) If you are the first or only one to give a testimony, explain how one can be saved and offer a salvation prayer for those who are ready to receive Christ.
8.) Be sure your experiences are scriptural before you share them with others. Interpret your experiences by the Word of God and not vice-versa. The Bible is our authority.
9.) Be lovingly enthusiastic. Let them know you really believe in what you are saying.
10.) Speak loudly and clearly, in a relaxed tone of voice. Make it conversational.
11.) Smile often. A smile tells a person,”I like you,” and “You’re worth smiling at.” Ask the Lord to give you a happy, radiant face. Eph. 4:15.
12.) Avoid mannerisms when you speak, such as: rubbing your nose, playing with your ring, jingling coins in your pocket.
13.) Feature Christ as the key point of your story, not yourself.
14.) Present your best appearance: clean, good posture, smell good. Let the life of Christ within you be evident!
Salvation in a testimony:
• Tell the circumstances involved in your salvation.
• Spell out exactly what salvation is. Be clear and simple. Think: Could a person be saved by hearing that testimony alone?
• As a general rule, it is good to quote at least one clear salvation verse, and no more than two. Eph.2:8-9; John 3:16; I John 5:13.
• Always distinguish between faith and works, between salvation and service, Christ and religion.
• Remember the gospel is the power of God unto salvation. Rom. 1:16. Rely on His Word and the Holy Spirit.
• Don’t use jargon. Words like “born gain,””convicted,””converted,” do not communicate truth to the average non-Christian.
• Don’t preach– Do talk, share something of value.
• Don’t tear down. Be positive!
• Don’t let your testimony drag on. When you have finished, you can stop. Don’t keep talking just to talk.
• Don’t apologize. This gives the person or audience lack of confidence.
• Don’t mention church denominations, especially in a derogatory way.
• Don’t speak negatively about any other individual or group. Talk about Christ and present a saving knowledge of Christ.
• Don’t give the impression that the Christian life is a “bed of roses.” Some people are told that when they give their life to Christ, that all of their problems will be solved and life will be a complete joy for the rest of their lives. If you have been a Christian for very long, you know that you will still have problems.
• Don’t give a bragamony or feel that you need to convince the listener of how bad you were before Christ.
What is a saviour? We call Jesus our Saviour. Here is an example of how to explain to someone that you are witnessing to what a saviour is.
“Let’s suppose that you are 10 miles from shore and your boat sinks and you can’t swim. Along comes another boat as you cry out for help. – What is a Saviour?
Let’s say that the man in the boat throws out a book for you entitled “How to Swim”. Would you call this man a saviour? I don’t think so. You may have a few other names for the fellow with your last breath, but I doubt that it would be saviour.
Now let’s say that he gets out of the boat and shows you different methods of swimming. He shows you the dog paddle, the back stroke, and a few other things. Is this person a saviour? NO! You might call him an example at best. How about if he throws you a life preserver, pulls you into his boat, gives you a blanket, some hot chocolate and takes you about a mile from shore and throws you back into the water so that he may continue on his way. Is he a saviour? NO! Maybe an indian giver. He really didn’t save you because you will still drown one mile from shore just as quickly as you will ten miles from shore.
None of these examples are of a saviour. A saviour is one that gets you out of the water into his boat and takes you all the way to shore.
Jesus did not just give us a book with instructions in it, He was not just an example for us to follow, He does not take us part way to Heaven and then cast us back out again. When Jesus saves us, He stays with us through this life and takes us all the way and sets us on Heaven’s shore. That’s what happens when you accept Jesus as your saviour. He has stated that He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5) and He will not cast us out (John 6:37).”
Our main thrust in giving testimony is to tell WHO the Lord is to us, and WHAT HAS BEEN DONE to us and for us. We should avoid focusing people’s attention to ourselves or to other people. We are giving our testimony to “proclaim good tidings of His salvation from day to day, to tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among the peoples” (Psalm 96:2-3), or “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1Pet 2:9). We are Christ’s Witness!
And when they bring you before the synagogues and rulers and the authorities, DO NOT BECOME ANXIOUS about how or what you should say, for the HOLY SPIRIT WILL TEACH YOU in that very hour what you ought to say. ( Luke 12:11-12;cf. Mat 10:19-20).
• You will be honored by God before his angels – Luke 12:4-9
• Every time we open our lips to declare who Jesus is, the deception and power of the enemy of our soul is defeated. Rev. 12:1
• People become obedient to the true faith (Acts 6:7), they are saved from the penalty and power of their sins and Satan (Acts 2:40-42,46; Col. 1:13-14), and they will inherit heavenly inheritance and enjoy life eternal.
What Was My Life Like Before I Accepted Christ (or gave Him complete control)?
How Did I Receive Christ (or gave Him complete control)?
How Has My Life Changed After Accepting Christ (or giving Him complete control)?
How And Where Do I See the Lord Leading Me Forward From Today And Into The Future?