Friday, May 10, 2013

How to write and share a childhood conversion testimony / My story

Last night I taught a mini-seminar on evangelism to our mission team headed to West Virginia. Part of what I taught was how to write and share our stories - our testimonies - of coming to faith in Christ.

It's especially tricky sharing a childhood conversion story.

Below is how a ministry called the Navigators taught me to put it together my childhood conversion story. You might want to try it this way.

1) Start with a current issue that you are facing that you think others might be facing, too. Create a bit of tension by moving from talking about "me" to talking about "we."

2) Go back to tell about when you trusted Christ. Be sure to share facts about the gospel.

3) Come back to the present and share how Christ is helping you deal with the current issue that you are facing.

Below is my story that might give you a better idea of how you could organize yours if yours is a childhood conversion, too.


Rick Duncan's story

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a winner – to succeed. I was pretty good at baseball, a pretty good student, and, as a kid, a pretty good musician. Somehow, I started to believe that to get the approval and applause of important people in my life – parents, coaches, teachers – I had to perform at a pretty high level.

So, I became driven. For many years, I was able to keep up the fa├žade of competence. I received a scholarship to play baseball in college. After graduation, I spent a few years playing baseball professionally. I was seen as one of the good guys. I got married and started a family.

Then, I went into the ministry as a career. I thought, “I didn’t make it to the major leagues in baseball, but I’ll make it to the major leagues as a minister, as a husband, as a dad.” Deep inside, I felt like I didn’t quite measure up – like I didn’t quite do anything good enough.

The pressure to perform began to take its toll. Life wasn’t as enjoyable or restful as it should have been. I wasn’t truly life-giving for the people around me.

As a child, my parents made sure they took me to church. I learned that having a personal relationship with Jesus can give you peace and purpose as well as eternal life. I knew I had broken God’s laws and deserved to be separated from Him forever. I knew God sent His Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life and to die on the cross to forgive me. I knew that He rose and that if I confessed my sins and trusted Jesus, He would forgive me and send His Holy Spirit to live in me and change me.

So, one night, I told my dad I wanted to receive Jesus. He led me to pray, “Dear Jesus, I know I have sinned. I believe You came and died on the cross to forgive me. Come into my heart and change me. Help me be who You want me to be.”

I believe He changed me that night. But I unnecessarily carried that performance-based baggage for many years. No matter how well things went in my life or ministry, I wasn’t satisfied. I thought, “I’ll have to do better next time.” I wanted to be “big league” in everything. It wasn’t a good way to live.

God began to teach me more about what it means to be loved unconditionally by Him. Someone encouraged me to go to some counseling training. I thought that I was going to learn to help others. Instead, I gained a whole lot of insight about myself – how I was driven by a desire to be seen as competent. Later, I read what God has to say about how to find true significance in life and about how to live with the pressure off.

I still want to succeed and win. But I can honestly say that it’s becoming more and more about God and less and less about me.

Now I realize that I have great worth apart from my performance – apart from my success or lack of it – simply because Christ gave His life for me and imparted great value to me. No matter how badly I perform, I know that I am deeply loved and fully pleasing to God. The pressure is off. And I’m enjoying ministry and life more than ever.

There are times when I still fall into old patterns of life. Sometimes, my relationships and my career don’t go the way I want them to go. And I often blame myself for things I didn’t do or for things I did. The pressure to perform perfectly starts to mount.

But during those times, I often remind myself that Jesus is my friend, my Savior who says, “Come to Me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy, and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Has anything like this ever happened for you?

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