When I worked for Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Chicagoland and the Washington D.C. area during the late 80’s and early 90’s, occasionally I would find myself one on one with a co-worker for a longer period of time. Maybe it was just a lunch hour and two of us made plans to grab a Chicago style hot dog at Luke’s (try it when you’re near the Windy City). Maybe the Vienna, VA office was running out of cars and we needed to get to Gaithersburg to pick one up. Whatever the case, I remember asking a question on a long ride that yielded fruitful conversation on at least more than one occasion.
“John, what’s the story of your life?” I would ask.
“Well, I graduated from Purdue…”
“No, no…” I might counter. “…the story of your life. Go back further…like where were you born? Your family. Give me details.”
And so it would begin. I would ask questions along the way, really trying to draw them out. I’ve found that most people like to tell about themselves, and as long as the questions are not too prying, it can be a great way to get things going. And for my part, I find people interesting…a great way to pass the time.
Invariably, after chatting through the notorious D.C. traffic and maybe on the beltway for a while, they would turn to me: “OK, now your turn. Tell me the story of your life.”
And I would…Born in Jackson, Mississippi, an only child, moved to Antioch, Illinois when I was 7, became an atheist in middle school/high school. Got an appointment to West Point…
“And you know, when I got to West Point, it was interesting – they suggested we go to church.”
“Yeah, I think they felt it was good for your reputation as an officer….”
And so it went. I would tell about how at the protestant church service, the Chaplain talked about Jesus in a way I had never heard…etc…all the way to when that cadet Bob Maruna dropped by my tent and showed me the Bridge diagram and that verse:
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)
For those who are uninitiated, what I was doing here is called sharing your testimony, and I have found the testimony to be a really great way of explaining the faith. It’s a method of fishing for men which has a long and honored tradition, starting with a man named Paul in the 1st Century A.D.
…when they heard that he was addressing them in the Hebrew language, they became even more quiet. And he said: “I am a Jew, born in Tarsus in Cilicia, but brought up in this city, educated at the feet of Gamaliel according to the strict manner of the law of our fathers, being zealous for God as all of you are this day. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women…” Acts 22:2-4 (ESV)
And so, before a hostile crowd of his fellow Jews, the testimony of the Apostle Paul begins from the steps of Herod’s Temple in Jerusalem. It would not be the only time Paul would tell his story in this manner in the book of Acts – a wonderful opportunity would afford itself before King Agrippa, recounted in Acts 26.
I have personally found that sharing my testimony is a very effective way of telling someone about Jesus. Who can argue with it? It’s your story. And the format is pretty simple. Tell about your life before you met Christ. Tell how you met Christ, and try to include a verse at this point, especially one that meant something to you at the time and helps to explain the gospel (like mine: Ephesians 2:8, 9). Then finally, tell about what has happened in your life since you met Christ.
I hope you’ll give it a try sometime. If it was good enough for Paul, why not you and me?
For tomorrow, Thursday, March 12: Acts 23