Sharing our testimony

The people of our day are more impressed by witness than by teachers, and if they listen to these it is because they also bear witness. (Evangelii nuntiandi, 41)

Our culture values experiences very highly. So we cannot underestimate the power of sharing our personal story of faith (i.e. our testimony). The other advantage of sharing our personal story is that it cannot be refuted. It is not a hypothesis being posed. It is your real experience. They may doubt its validity but they cannot dispute that you experienced it.

Most importantly, sharing our testimony is a powerful way to make Christ present to others. He becomes more than an historical figure. Instead he is alive and active in your life.

To share our testimony well takes some prayerful preparation so that we can have our “answer ready”. It would be good to take your faith story to prayer and ask the Holy Spirit to show you the important markers or points of decision that will be helpful to others in their faith.

A testimony usually has a simple structure consisting of a before, a point of decision, and an after. It may be that your point of decision was gradual. That’s ok. Nevertheless, there was probably a point when you realised that things were different for you. You consciously acted in certain ways that you would not have done before. You began to grow in a personal relationship with Christ. These are decision points that may have snuck up on you!

When considering the before of your testimony there are some questions that may help:

• What things were most important to you?
• What did your life revolve around?
• Why were they so important?
• What basic need were you trying to fulfil?
• How did you try to satisfy that need?

When considering the point of decision of your testimony these questions may help:

• When did you first hear the message of Christ?
• What was your reaction?
• Was it an event or series of events that brought you to the point of decision?
• Was it a friend/family member that encouraged you?
• Why did you make the decision to trust Jesus?
• How did you specifically do that?

Talking about the time after your decision is crucial. This is what gives people an understanding of what it means to be a follower of Christ. These questions may help you:

• How did Christ specifically begin to satisfy the basic need you had before?
• What changes have occurred in your life as a result?
• How do you know Christ is in your life?

Once you have prayed through this ask some good Catholic friends if you can share your testimony with them. Ask them to give your their reactions. What spoke to them? What did they want to know more about? Was there anything that didn’t seem relevant?

As you share your testimony you might also want to keep the following principles in mind:

Keep it true - avoid being overly dramatic.

Keep it real - avoid “church” jargon.

Keep it simple - strive to convert not to impress.

Keep it personal – like a one-to-one conversation (use “I”, “me” or “my” rather than “you”)

Now that you have done all of this, remember to pray for opportunities to share your testimony with others. The people that you share with are most likely going to be people who know and trust you, people who you have been striving to love and serve and whom you have been praying for (To learn more about this, go to the “What can I do?” page. If you think that a conversation may be lending itself to sharing your testimony, say something like this, “I understand what you are saying, but I have found something that really helped me.... May I share it with you?”  Once you have shared your testimony, be prepared to back it up by offering to say a simple prayer with those you shared with (see the prayer at the bottom of the “Who is Jesus Christ?” page) or by inviting them to some event where they can go deeper in their faith.

Let’s not be the silent majority anymore! Let’s stop keeping our greatest gift to ourselves. Share the story of Christ’s love and mercy with anyone who wants to hear.