I still remember my fear. There had to be a better way to tell my story than to give a blow-by-blow account of my entire life! I’d later learn that taking the time to prayerfully work through 4 simple steps would help me confidently and effectively articulate my faith:
- Your life before Christ
- How you came to know Christ
- Your life after Christ
- How someone else can know Him
Ready to tackle your testimony? Find some quiet time. You’ll need your Bible and a tablet for brainstorming. Next, go to God in prayer, asking for discernment in choosing what would be the most important parts of your story to share. Then, BRAINSTORM!
Your life before Christ.
What was your life like before you became a Christian? Were your parents believers? Perhaps you were from a broken home, or experienced adoption, neglect or addiction. Did people see you as successful? How did you see yourself?
As you are remembering, try to identify one attitude or emotion that would describe your life before you came to know Christ. Lonely? Driven? Unfulfilled? Fearful? Self-centered? Purposeless?
Now, write down two or three personal experiences that illustrate that attitude. (Later, you will choose one or two of these illustrations to include in your story.)
How you came to know Christ.
At age five I had rheumatic fever. I was afraid of the dark, and I was afraid of dying. One day, my wise mother paraphrased a Bible verse. It was John 3:16. Understanding my fear, she said, “Did you know that God loves you, Jennie, so much, that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die on the cross to pay for your sin? If you choose to believe in Him, you’ll never have to be afraid of dying, because you’ll live forever with God in Heaven? There’s more, too. When you know Jesus, you’re never alone, because He promises to be with you always.”
For me, that seemed almost too good to be true, but I desperately wanted to believe it! We knelt together and I prayed. I told God I was a sinner, that I had done wrong things, but that I did believe that He loved me, had sent Jesus to die to pay for my sin, and I asked Him to forgive me, and to make me brand new.
I was never the same again!
Who introduced you to Jesus? What attracted you to Christ? Write it down. How did you come to this decision in your life?
Share how you recognized your need, accepted Christ’s forgiveness, and received Him, the sinless Son of God as your Savior. Be sure to use scripture to illustrate your understanding of God’s great gift of salvation to you. You don’t need to preach a sermon here–just tell the story and share scripture that was meaningful in bringing you to a point acceptance.
Perhaps like me, you accepted Christ as a child, and you don’t have a dramatic “before Christ” story. If so, for this portion, share an experience in your life that showed your immaturity in Christ. I share an illustration about cheating on a test, getting caught, and the creative way my mother disciplined me. Ultimately, I learned two valuable lessons. First, the importance of a “sorry heart” for my sin. Secondly, I learned about the joy and freedom that comes with being forgiven, and the story illustrates both my spiritual immaturity, and spiritual growth.
Your life after accepting Christ.
What difference has knowing Jesus made in your life? Identify your positive change in attitude, action or emotion. Was there joy? Peace? Fulfillment? Confidence? Purpose? Write down two or three personal experiences that would illustrate the difference knowing Christ has made in your life.
It may be helpful, as you put your testimony together in it’s simplest form, to use a comparison outline. To do that, identify the emotion or attitude that represented your condition both before and after coming to know Christ personally. Did you go from fear to faith like me? From stress to peace? From being driven, to contentment in Christ?
How someone else can come to know Him?
Our aim in sharing our testimony is not to simply entertain with our story but rather to introduce others to the Savior, and to draw them to a point of decision.
- Tell a concise illustration that includes a spiritual application at the end. I tell a story about an old high school boyfriend dropping by. I was caught with no makeup, dreadful hair, and a stained sweatshirt! Mortified, I covered my face with one hand, and peeking through my fingers, I welcomed him and suggested that he wait on the porch while I ran to comb my hair!
How I regretted not being prepared for that visit! Later it occurred to me that one day, my life will end, and God will be standing at the door. Will I be embarrassed when He comes? Someday we will ALL answer that door! Will you be ready?
- Confront your listener(s) with his or her need for a relationship with Christ. “Do you have a personal relationship with God? Do you need one?”
- Give clear instructions, so they can make this important decision. For instance: “If you realize today that you need a relationship with God, pray silently with me right now. ‘Dear God, I need you. I admit I’m a sinner. I believe that you sent your Son Jesus to die on the cross and pay for my sins. Please forgive my past and make me brand new.”
Why bother with taking the time to prepare your testimony? It’s one of the most powerful tools you can use to lead someone else to Christ.
Jennie Afman Dimkoff is an author, international speaker, trainer and storyteller, speaking for retreats, on college campuses, and for conferences. Her books and Bible studies include Passionate Faith, and Unexpected Grace. Her most recent book is Miracle on Hope Hill which she wrote with her sister, Carol Kent.
She serves on the Global Board for ODB (Our Daily Bread) Ministries and on the board of Speak Up for Hope, a ministry that encourages the families of incarcerated individuals.
Jennie has a special heart for military wives and families and has counts it a privilege to speak for and encourage PWOC groups around the world.
She loves being married to newly retired Probate Court Judge, Graydon Dimkoff, and they have two adult children and two irresistible granddaughters.