by Larry Kreider

Three times the book of Acts records Paul telling of his conversion. Apparently Paul knew the power of his personal story to move people closer to hearing from God for themselves. The skeptics of his day, just like today, debated the validity of the risen Jesus and that He died for their sins, but they couldn’t deny Paul’s personal experiences with Jesus.

In the book of Thessalonians, Paul commended the Christians for believing his testimony: “On the day he comes to be glorified in his holy people and to be marveled at among all those who have believed.

This includes you, because you believed our testimony to you” (2 Thess 1:10).

When you tell your story of how God has transformed your life, no one can argue or debate it because you are going beyond the realm of knowledge into the realm of your personal relationship with God.

Your story is a powerful example of how God has worked in your life.

Your testimony is your personal story of encountering the Lord and what He has done for you and in you.

Your testimony can have a real impact on others’ lives. People will listen when you tell your personal story of how you came to believe in Jesus. They will not be intimidated, because they are not forced to agree or disagree with the statements you make. It is your story, and they cannot deny how you were persuaded to follow Jesus.

When you share your story with others, you should focus on the fact that God loves them and Jesus died for them, so they can be forgiven and be made new as well. Tell them of the changes the Lord has made in your life, which will give them hope for their life too.

Never be ashamed to speak for Christ: “So do not be ashamed to testify about our Lord, or ashamed of me his prisoner. But join with me in suffering for the gospel, by the power of God, who has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace” (2 Tim. 1:8-9).

A friend and I went to pray for a man who had cancer. My friend, the man’s believing wife and his daughter-in-law had been praying for his salvation for many years, but he had not received Christ. Upon entering his home, the Holy Spirit prompted me to share my personal testimony with him. About 30 minutes later, he was ready to receive Jesus Christ as the Lord of his life. God used my testimony to speak to him, and his life was changed.

As you share your testimony, you’ll find that the Holy Spirit will use you to speak the truth, and others will be built up in faith. Perhaps you are afraid that someone will ask you a question you don’t have the answer to. If you are unsure of the correct answer, it is appropriate to say, “I don’t know, but perhaps I can ask someone who does know.”

None of us has all the answers. That’s why the Lord placed different gifts in different people in His church. We all need each another.

Because the Lord has given all those who are His a powerful testimony, sometimes there is nothing quite like the testimony of another to get through to us. This is how it happened to me.

When I was growing up, my family went to church every Sunday in our community. When I was 11 years old, we went to an evangelistic meeting, and God convicted me of my sin. The preacher talked about eternal life and the importance of living for God and not spending eternity in hell. I remember thinking that night that I did not want to go to hell. So, I gave my life to God. I was baptized and became a church member.

I wanted to live for the Lord, but in reality, the commitment I made lasted only a few months. It wasn’t long before I was living a counterfeit Christian life. When I was with my Christian friends, I acted like a Christian. When I was with my non-Christian friends, I acted like them.

Seven years later, a friend confronted me with the question, “If you were to die tonight, are you sure you would go to heaven?” I didn’t know the answer. I responded, “Nobody knows that!”

My friend said, “Well, I know.”

I was uncomfortable that night because I was confronted with the truth. You see, I could talk about God and the Bible, but I couldn’t talk about Jesus, because I did not know Him personally.

I imagined that if I did good things, somehow God would accept me.

I went home and opened my Bible. Suddenly, everything I read spoke directly to me. I read where Jesus spoke to the religious people of His day, “You hypocrites!” I was a hypocrite. I knew that even though others had viewed me as “the life of the party,” when I went home, I was lonely. I was afraid that I would die without God. That night, I said, “Jesus, I give You my life. If You can use this rotten, mixed up life, I’ll serve You the rest of my life.”

God took me at my word. I was born again and became a new creation in Christ! My attitudes changed. My desires changed. The way I thought changed. And the Lord used the testimony of a friend, who later became my wife, to speak to me. I am eternally grateful!

You, too, have a story to tell, and people want to hear that you have experienced the same needs they have and that Jesus Christ has met those needs in your life. In your story (your testimony), you should include not only the outward sins that bound you, but the inward needs that drove you. Your personal testimony may consist of:

  • Describing the circumstance of your conversion—how you became a Christian (where, when and what happened)
  • Mentioning what the need was in your life, prior to your salvation, that brought you to Christ
  • Relating how your need has now been met after receiving Jesus

It is important to give your testimony—your experience of your encounter with Jesus—as often as possible to as many people as possible. You have a story to tell just as the woman at the well, or the blind man, or the woman caught in adultery had a story to tell! Your story is your experience of God’s kindness and power and love. You are telling what the Lord has done in your life and what God is saying about you. We know what God says about us by believing His Word. It is the truth of God’s Word that sets us free.

The Bible says that one of the ways we overcome Satan is by speaking out for Christ: “They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony” (Rev. 12:11). Why can’t Satan stand against our story? I believe it is because the power and forgiveness of God is in our story. There is spiritual power released against the powers of darkness when we testify how the Lord has changed and is changing our lives.

Start telling your story today!

This article is reprinted from Larry Kreider’s book,  Speak Lord, I’m Listening (Ventura, California: Regal, 2008).