Your personal story of how you came to faith in Christ is powerful. The purpose of this lesson is to guide you to prepare your personal story.
I love listening to stories. Each of us have our own stories — those narratives that define and give context to our lives, that give listeners clues about our existence, frustrations, hopes, and aspirations. Our lives are, essentially, a collection of stories — the personal accounts, however mundane or exciting, of our days.
If you want to get to know someone well, then listen carefully to their stories. Ask questions that prompt the telling of stories because stories are the keys that give us access to the innermost parts of a person’s heart. They bring clarity and sharpen our understanding about the people we know and those we would like to know.
One of the most effective tools you have for sharing your faith is the story of how Jesus Christ gave you eternal life and how He has enriched your life. Some refer to this story as a personal testimony. One use of the word testimony is when a person is brought into a courtroom and placed under oath to tell what they know or experienced with reference to the case under consideration.
Your personal story is important and should be told. The Bible often reminds those who have experienced the goodness of the Lord to tell their story. “Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies” (Psalm 107:2). Telling your story can encourage others and even guide them to the Lord.
Your personal story is also powerful and has authority. Someone wisely observed that a person with an experience is never at the mercy of a person with an argument. The Bible teaches that we should “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
Your personal story also communicates and relates to others. Never underestimate how God can use your personal story to touch the heart of someone who is searching for answers. If you will be faithful to share your story, then God will honor your faithfulness for doing so. He can take the words you speak and use them to draw others to Himself.
Learning from Paul
The Apostle Paul understood the power and importance of his personal story — the account of how he came to faith in Christ. He shared his story in Acts 22:1-16 and again in Acts 26:9-23. These accounts of how Paul shared his personal story can help us to frame our own story. Paul used a simple four-point outline to share his story.
Acts 21 records the account of Paul’s return to Jerusalem against the advice of friends who warned him of the danger awaiting him there. Paul was later seized by an angry mob at the temple but was rescued by a Roman regiment stationed in a fortress adjacent to the temple. Paul asked the Roman commander for permission to address the angry crowd. Paul used this opportunity to tell his personal story of coming to faith in Christ (Note: Paul’s conversion experience is recorded in Acts 9).
My Life Before Jesus (I have not always been a Christian…)
Your personal story should start with what your life was like before coming to faith in Christ. Paul talked about where he was born and educated and how he zealously followed God. Many people will relate to this part of your story. Keep it simple and set the context for what follows.
How I Realized I Needed Jesus (…but God showed me my need of Jesus Christ).
Paul shared how he had been going about his business of persecuting Christians when Jesus got his attention. Everything changed when he had an encounter with Jesus. Only then did he fully realize the depth of his separation from God. When you share this part of your story remember that the point is to talk about how you came to the realization that you have sinned against God. Do not use this as an opportunity to go into great detail about your sin.
How I Received Jesus (I committed my life to Jesus…)
When Paul encountered Jesus, he recognized Him as Lord of all and then asked an important question, “What shall I do?” Paul then obeyed without reservation. He entrusted himself to Christ without reservation. Be sure to share that you made a personal decision to place your faith and trust in Christ alone for your salvation. Avoid using churchy language that will not relate to an unbeliever.
How Jesus Makes My Life Meaningful Now (…and now my life is different)
Paul continued by sharing what the Lord had done in his life and how he had used him after conversion. Your testimony should not end with the conversion experience, but should also include what the Lord is doing in your life today. For example, perhaps you can share about how He helped you through a difficult time. The focus of this part of your testimony should be on the Lord and His faithfulness to you.
A Sample Testimony
Keep in mind that the purpose of your personal story is to put into words some of the important and interesting details of your conversion. God can use your story to open doors that will lead to a deeper discussion of how to come to faith in Christ.
While your conversion experience may not be as dramatic as Paul’s, you can still talk about some specific ways in which your life is no longer the same. Share what has changed in your life since you met Jesus — perhaps changes in attitudes, values, behaviors, the way in which you interact with others, healed relationships. All of these are things that others can relate to.
This is Pastor Omar’s personal testimony.
My Life Before Jesus | I was born in a small town in South Texas. My family placed a great deal of importance on living a good life, doing good things, being kind to others, and going to church. I faithfully attended church services every week, not because I had to but because I wanted to.
How I Realized I Needed Jesus | When I was in the ninth-grade, I began to sense an emptiness in my life that all of my good deeds and church attendance did not seem to fill. No matter what I did, I had a nagging feeling that something was missing in my life. I became concerned about where I would spend eternity. When I asked one of the adult leaders at the church I attended how I could know for sure that I would go to heaven when I died, he told me not to worry about such things.
How I Received Jesus | For the next two years I continued to sense the emptiness in my life. Then I met some friends who took an interest in me. I noticed a difference in their lives. One of them gave me a copy of the New Testament. I started to read it and soon realized that Jesus was the only one who could fill my emptiness and give meaning to my life. So, I asked Jesus to forgive me of my sins and committed myself to following Him. Jesus made a difference in my life, just as He had in the lives of my friends.
How Jesus Makes My Life Meaningful Now | I have lived everyday since I started following Jesus knowing that I will spend eternity with Him after I die. That gives me so much peace. I also live with the daily assurance that I am loved by God and that He walks with me — guiding me and helping me to live in a way that pleases Him.
Preparing Your Personal Story
Keep in mind that when the Apostle Paul stood before the people (Acts 22:1-16) and later before King Agrippa (Acts 26:9-23), he spoke simply, logically, and clearly about his life before salvation, how he met Christ, and what his life was like after coming to faith in Christ. His testimony takes just a couple of minutes to read aloud in a conversational manner. As you prepare your personal story, seek the leadership of the Holy Spirit as you do so. Remember that God honors preparation. Keep your story short and simple and to the point.