but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect
— 1 Peter 3:15
“So, what’s your testimony?” It was a perfectly reasonable question. We were on a 17-hour train ride from Moscow to Tolyatti, Russia, with lots of time to kill, so it made sense that the leader of this evangelistic mission trip might want to hear the story of how Jesus had changed my life. What was surprising was how terrified I felt. Here I was, about to go door-to-door telling people that Jesus can change everything for them, and I had no idea how to articulate what Jesus had done for me.
I am no salesman. I could be tasked with selling the best thing in the world, but I don’t want to make you feel obligated, or put you in the awkward position of having to tell me you don’t want it (and if I’m honest, I probably don’t want to feel that rejection either). But I sure don’t mind showing you the “lid-taker-offer” in my kitchen (I really don’t know the official name for this thing) that I inherited from my grandmother! I love to show people how it works and I excitedly attest to how it has made my life better. Almost everyone who sees it to asks me how they can get one. I think its appeal is its obvious usefulness combined with my enthusiasm. I’ve never tried to sell it, but people want it!
Why am I more willing and able to evangelize about my cool kitchen gadget than I am about my Lord? Well, I know the story of the gadget — what my need is (it’s hard to get lids off of things), how well it meets the need, and how grateful I am to have it. Also, I know everyone has the same need — we all have to get lids off of things. Its an easy story to tell. I think one reason we struggle with sharing the Gospel is that we don’t know how to tell our Christian story. What personal need did we have that led us to Jesus? How did he help us? What place does he have in our lives now? When we know how to articulate these things, we can tell our story of Jesus. Whatever your story is — it doesn’t have to be fantastic or dramatic as long as it is authentic – will be just the story that someone needs to hear. We aren’t trying to sell Jesus. We don’t have to. When people hear our stories, they will want what we have. We can tell people how they can find him, and let Jesus himself close the deal.
I’ve heard evangelism described as one beggar telling another beggar where to find food. That’s all we have to do: know our story of need, and how Jesus meets it. So, what’s your story?