I’m fresh off a couple of mission trips this summer, one to Chicago and another to Kiev, Ukraine. This Sunday in our Young Pros ministry we will be having testimonies from these and several other trips. I LOVE such testimonies. I love hearing about how people are taking the gospel around the world.
But there’s a problem. We’ve all been there–the missionary testimony is perhaps enthusiastic, but definitely rambling. The person sharing is not a public speaker, after all (in most cases), and so he/she tends to be a bit scattered. I’ve been guilty myself. How do we stay focused and give effective testimonies briefly–to allow others to share as well–and powerfully?
I think Dr. Luke offers great counsel on this. Read the Acts. Again and again, Luke tells us two things well. I would like to offer these two tips and a third to help anyone share an effective missions testimony.
First, give the big picture. Look at Acts 2:42-47. In a few verses Luke describes the life of the new church. Or, look at 8:1-4 (or the corresponding passage in 11:19f). Luke is a master at giving a big overview in a compelling way.
Tell your listeners where you went, who you served with, and what your main focus was.
For instance: From July 6-16 a dozen of us from Richland Creek Community Church flew from RDU to Paris to Kiev to worship with Open Hearts Church, a church we have served the past few years. From Monday to Saturday we led an English and Sports camp with almost 100 people, many of whom were not believers. We sought to help them learn the language, have fun, and hear about Jesus!
Next, give an example of the bottom line of what happened during your time. Again, Luke does this so well. Just after 2:42-47, he gives us a remarkable and specific instance of their daily witness (daily was mentioned twice in 42-47). A lame man was touched by the Lord through Peter and John. He leaped up and began praising God. A crowd gathered and Peter preached, and many were saved!
A similar thing happens in 8, where after a general description of widespread persecution, Luke describes the specific ministry of Stephen.
Tell your listeners one or two specific incidents that were memorable for you on the trip. And, you can share one more involving someone else. You can’t recount the whole trip, so don’t try. People really don’t want a documentary; save that for the family reunion. In Ukraine I had a wonderful opportunity to share Christ with my language group and had several specific conversations like one with a very bright and remarkable college student named Natasha. On Monday, we talked about her Orthodox background and how little she knew about Protestants. On Friday, we were able to go deep into the gospel. She has connected with an InterVarsity group at her university and I continue to pray for her.
In addition, I’m especially excited that my mentee and Young Pros assistant Kevin got to lead two people to Jesus–that doesn’t always happen in these camps.
Third, leave your listeners with one specific challenge. “What I want you to remember is this:” And tell them. I want people to remember we have a unique opportunity to share Christ in Eastern Europe in a pace where the Soviet Union forbade such outreach, so it’s a great time to go there. For the Chicago trip, I want the listeners to know these great, megacities in the US are filled with people who are open to the gospel and need someone to talk to them about Jesus. Or, sometimes I will simply leave the listeners with the idea that one of the great ways to add fuel to the fire of your passion for Jesus is to get out of the country on a good mission trip.
Doing this is not only helpful for the listener, but it helps those not used to speaking publicly to land the plane.
There it is: Give them a big picture, give them a bottom line example or two, and leave them with a specific challenge. Hope this helps!