An Emoji Testimony
I want to give you a simple way to share your faith. Not trivialize it, as the title of this post could imply, but help solidify it in your heart and mind as a ready way to share the hope of Christ in you. Let me explain.
In Matthew 13, our Lord told a parable likening the kingdom of God to a sower sowing seeds indiscriminately. Regardless of the soil type - hard, rocky, weedy, or fertile - the sower just threw out the seed. Later, when Jesus explained the parable to his disciples, he told them the seed was God's Word and the soils represented people's hearts. Though other applications can be made from this parable, one thing we learn is that we are to be liberally and widely sharing God's Word with others.
Often, we stop short of testifying to Christ with unbelievers around us, be it a neighbor, a co-worker, an acquaintance, or even a longtime friend because we simply do not know what to say. We are unprepared, and I know many Christians can also feel unqualified to speak.
Yet this parable should encourage us in at least two ways. First, it reminds us that we are not accountable for the response of the hearers but only for sowing the Word. Second, even the smallest act of bringing God's Word to another can result in a fruitful response. When speaking to others of Christ, we do not always have to give them a whole boatload of knowledge when we do. Rather, a humble, short testimony to the truth - a seed - can be blessed by God to bring life and salvation to others.
The Lord allowed me to experience this truth a few years ago, near the end of my mother's life. As I was in a hospital room with her, a lab tech came in to draw her blood. As we talked, we realized we knew each other. Jake had been a math student of mine some fifteen years ago at the time (I taught part time in a local university in my early church planting days.). He told me that after getting married and doing a hard stint in the military, God had humbled his heart and he turned to Christ. He was now serving in his church and raising his children to fear the Lord. Jake also mentioned a short testimony I gave in class about being a Christian was one of the many factors God used to open his eyes to the gospel and, as he tended to my mom, smiled with joy and thanked me. I do not share this to boast except only in the Lord, for he took a small act and blessed it beyond my imagination (Eph. 3:20-21). As Spurgeon says, the Lord hides most of our fruit on this side of heaven to keep us humble, and reveals only enough of it to keep us encouraged.
So the simple way to share your faith is a one-minute testimony. That's about all I did in the math classroom. Throughout my Christian training, I have been encouraged to prepare short testimonies of varying length. A concise, one-minute testimony is a project I have worked on more recently with a group of men, as we meet to sharpen one another in being intentional in evangelism and discipleship. Having a basic way to summarize your life and the impact Christ has had on it can help you to be ready for any occasion.
To do a one-minute testimony means you can only have five or six sentences. Here is where the emojis come in. To help me keep my testimony in order and visualize it more for memory, I have six emojis (or icons or symbols) that represent each sentence in my testimony. In word format, they are a tarheel, report card, broken heart, block M, Bible, and a question mark. Or, as they appear in my mind's eye, it looks like this:
Here it is in written form so you can see how these symbols are associated with the short form of my life story.
I grew up in North Carolina and then as a teenager moved to Michigan.
During those years, I thought life consisted of just trying to be good - getting good grades in school, playing well in sports, being nice to others.
But as I grew older, I realized I was not good as my corrupt heart caused me to hurt others in relationships and I began to feel my separation from God.
In college at the University of Michigan, a friend told me I had been created to have a relationship with God though his Son, Jesus Christ, and at that time I believed in Christ, that he died for my wrongdoings on the cross and was raised from the dead to give me a new heart.
The Lord gave me eternal life that day, and through the Bible I have come to know him more through the years and love teaching others about him.
Would you be interested in learning more about Jesus from the Bible?
A few other thoughts about this. I can say this comfortably in 45-50 seconds, so it gives a little leeway to add a thought here and there that might relate more to the person I am talking to. I give a few details of my life to add some realness to my testimony. Some key gospel components are contained. Though I do not quote it, the truths of one of my favorite Bible verses (John 17:3) are woven in. I like ending with a question, in the hopes that I might be able to share more. Having this outline allows me to expand it if I have more time with someone. Practicing this over and over with an accountability group, and saying it out loud in private, helps me to be ready when opportunities arise and, as I pray, gives more boldness to create opportunities.
Why not try putting down a few emojis that capture the Lord's work in your life and putting a one-minute testimony together? Encourage your Bible study to do it, and stir each other up to share it with those around them. And I'd love for some of you to share your testimonies this way, with both symbols and text, in the comments below.