Happy Monday, dears! I hope this finds you well and continuing to seek Jesus always!
Many of you have moved back in to your dorms or are gearing up to move back in for the upcoming year. For my freshmen out there, welcome! I can totally understand every single feeling you are having right now: excitement, anxiousness, worry, and even homesick. Welcome to college life, the freedom of living away from home, and the trials and difficult decisions coming in the months ahead. I pray some of our discussions this summer has better equipped you for those decisions and those hard times. To my sophomores all the way through grad students, welcome back! Are you ready? All those things you said you wouldn't do, couldn't do last year? Turn those into goals and stick to them even if that means telling your roommate so they'll keep you accountable. Now go and make this year the best one yet!
This week, we'll be talking about something that is amazing and beautiful and should be celebrated but ultimately leaves people feeling awkward or uncomfortable: testimonies.
There are two questions that will leave any small group or congregation in complete and utter silence: Does someone want to open/close us in prayer? Does someone want to share their testimony/what they've been learning?
Crickets for a solid two minutes until someone talks just to break the silence.
Crickets every time.
Why is this topic even important? Why are we even discussing it?
In college, you will come across people from all walks of life and backgrounds. You'll have lunch with them, sit beside them in classes, work on projects or study together. There will be people who don't love Jesus all around you. What a better mission field!! If you love and follow Jesus, His love and His light will be evident in your life to those around you, especially those who don't believe. You will get asked questions about you and your faith. Allow me to repeat that. You WILL get asked questions about you and your faith.
So, what are you going to tell them? What has Jesus personally done in your life that would make them want to deny themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Jesus?
I get it. It's tough. Usually, I get two responses to that question. Either there's so much you want to tell them, how could you possibly narrow it down? OR Your mind has drawn a blank. Usually after a few moments of staring off into space and a lot of "ums" later, people find something (or pick one thing) to talk about.
Campus ministries. Usually, the first night is a get-to-know-you night and more than likely the conversation will turn to, "Does someone want to share their testimony?" or "Let's go around in a circle and share our testimonies." Sweat, panic, and feelings of inadequacy and unpreparedness wash over you (and me most of them time). You aren't even hearing what other people are saying because you're so focused on trying to figure out what in the world you're going to say. As you hear amazing stories about how Jesus redeemed a lot of people from really horrible situations, you start to feel embarrassed by your "grew up in church, got saved at a young age, and have been sold out ever since."
Those of you in that last boat, please let me encourage you and maybe give you some ground to start building on. Your story is beautiful. It is not any less powerful than other stories because there wasn't an ah-ha moment. You story isn't centered on one moment but your journey with Christ. You know more know about Him than you did when you first got saved. What have you learned? You maybe have had to make some tough decisions regarding your faith. What were they? Maybe you've faced bullying or been left out because of your faith. How did you grow through that? How did you see God moving in those situations? What are you learning about God now?
When preachers and teachers are giving a "how-to" on sharing your testimony, they give the three point outline:
1. Your life before Christ.
2. How you got saved- what happened, how you felt, etc.
3. Your life now.
I agree that this is a solid basis for sharing your testimony. I will say, however, you will have to use discretion as to whether or not the person you are sharing your testimony with is going to be responsive to you saying you were saved at 5 years old. I would suggest sharing your journey with them and some of the difficult roads you have had to walk since them and share what you are learning now.
So, in an effort to avoid any anxiety or "winging it" or any temptation to just make something up, take a few moments to write your testimony down following the outline. Then, take a few minutes to write about what God is teaching you now. God might even show you something new about Him or yourself as you work.
I'd love to hear your story! You can share it with me in the comments or on social media using #hsfoundations! I can't wait to get to know a little more about you!