Revelation 12:11 And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.
I want to share a quick story from last week about the power of our testimony. Each week for the past 4 years, we’ve partnered with Antioch ministries to invite neighborhood youth from the inner city into our home to share a meal, play some games, and hear a short Bible lesson. This might sound like a cute idea, but it’s not. Kids and their families are dealing with weighty things. Exhausting things. Depressing things because those things don’t change through lessons and meals. Change requires more. Most often I feel overwhelmed and inadequate in our ability to provide any realistic change, which leads me pray more fervently for our neighbors. Our hope lies in the power, majesty, mystery and love of Christ to transform lives and communities. It’s within the context of brokenness and feeling overwhelmed that I share this story.
Last week, I encouraged one of the young men from our discipleship home at 810 to share his testimony to our boys aged 8-13. Around the dinner table we began our lesson with their thoughts on what it meant to be a Christian. “It means you don’t swear,” said one of them. “You don’t do bad things,” said another. I asked my friend to share his testimony and what it meant for him to be a Christian.
His story was and is powerful. Drug addicted parents and an absent father helped lead to his own drug abuse and thoughts of suicide. “Since I don’t want my life, I’ll give it to You, Jesus” was one of the statements I remember. As he was talking, a hush fell over the table. One of the 12 year old held his head in his hands and began weeping.
When I asked if he wanted to share, he hesitated but eventually confessed to wanting to kill himself. He said last year was a real bad time, but then a neighbor invited him to the group. He says he felt God convincing him not to kill himself. This led to prayers and more tears from other boys. I admit, I’ve never sat at a table with young men crying in the Presence of God before. I wasn’t exactly sure what to do. We sat and prayed together and eventually got back to a game of Nerf wars, but all of us have a much clearer picture of what it means to be a Christian.
A couple things that impressed me about that night:
- Our testimonies are extremely powerful. I’m guilty of getting caught up in theology and reasons God came to die. Sometimes I forget that Jesus came to save sinners, of whom I’m the worst. Our testimonies need to be shared because you never know who needs to hear it.
- Jesus gets Glory: I’m guilty of minimizing my testimony and wanting to move past the hard things in my life. Jesus has promised that he’ll never leave or forsake us. As we go through hard times, Jesus will be glorified in the end if we just keep walking.
- You need to persevere: I often wonder what the heck we’re doing. Sometimes I think God purposely stretches us beyond our capacity to the point where we break. This breaking reveals our true motives and if there’s any self interest in our hearts; it will get exposed. Part of being a Christian means that I don’t take liberty to abandon my faith when my circumstances don’t match who I think God is.
- Don’t assume everything is fine: For this kid, I had no idea he was struggling with suicidal thoughts. I had no idea the group was having an impact in his life. Thank God he directed this family in to our lives. Thank God my family knows them. Thank God for bringing this young man to our discipleship home and allowing him to share his testimony. Thank God that a family moved here a decade ago and bought a house and started a ministry called Antioch for youth.
- Suicide is a real deal: I don’t struggle with these thoughts, but I realize more and more that many people do. This was a good reminder to me of the preciousness of life and to take value in each and every person God has placed around me. They are valuable to God. He paid the same price for us all; the precious blood of Jesus.
My encouragement today is: Don’t give up. Don’t minimize your struggles, but don’t give up! Keep doing with God has asked you to do in the place he asked you to do it. Share your testimony with someone today!
Hebrews 10:36 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.