Today I want to talk to you about using your personal testimony. Acts 5:42 says, "And every day in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ" (New American Standard Version). Notice that the disciples of the early church met in the temple every day, and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Many people feel a house-to- house or door-to-door type of approach is unnatural or uncomfortable. I want to share a few things we've learned in actually going out, having doors opened for discipleship, and seeing people converted and turning to Jesus Christ.
It's not nearly as hard as you've been told, and one of the things I noticed in the Scriptures is that the Apostle Paul used his personal testimony three times when talking to an unconverted person. In Acts 9, 22, and 26, he gave his testimony, his experience, and what happened to him as he talked to unbelievers. One of the best approaches we have found in bringing the message of Jesus Christ to other people is what we call "prayer-walking." We go to a door, knock, and tell them, "We're just in the area praying for people. We believe God hears and answers prayer, and we wondered if you're having any problems in your family—health or other problems—and would like for us to pray for you." Sometimes they say "Well, yes, I have a problem" and want us to pray; other times they feel a little uncomfortable or embarrassed and say, "No, we don't have any prayer requests at this time." Then we just begin to tell them our personal testimony.
I say, "I notice you have children. I have three of my own. On December 14, 1981, my girls who were twins were born. The second twin born was stillborn." They reply, "Oh, I'm so sorry to hear about that." Then I say, "Don't be sorry. Let me tell you what happened." I begin to tell the story. The second twin to be born had a breech birth; that is, she was born feet first. Oxygen was cut off from her sometime during the birth process. She was stillborn; that is, she was born dead.
The midwife picked her up, slapped her (hitting her as hard as she could), suctioned her lungs in case fluid had filled them, did everything she could, and finally gave up. I was like any other father. I just lost my daughter—what am I going to do? At this point, I say to the people at the door, "I would like to ask you, have you ever read much of the Bible?" They say "Well, I've read a little bit" or sometimes "No, not really." I explain, "The reason I'm asking is because the Bible says in Acts 10:38 that Jesus went about doing good, healing all who were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him.
I'm just going to tell you what happened. You can take it or leave it for whatever it means to you, but my baby was dead, and I was thinking that in a few days, we would bury her." I thought to myself, I just want to hold her. As I went to pick her up, there was an evil presence over her, which the Bible calls a demonic spirit. It physically attacked me and paralyzed me momentarily. Immediately when that happened, I said, "In the name of Jesus Christ, I command you, unclean spirit, to get off this baby, and I command life into this child in Jesus' name." That little baby, who had never breathed, gasped, took one breath, and then ceased to breathe. I said again, "In the name of Jesus Christ, you unclean spirit, I command you off of this child right now, and life to come into her!" This time she gasped several times, breathed, and continued to breathe.
I call the person I am talking to by name and say, "You know, after a period of about three minutes, a person without oxygen to the brain has brain damage. My daughter is perfectly normal in every way. We named her Vita, which in Latin means "life," because we wanted to tell the story of what God did for her. He brought life back into her. From that time on, I've studied the Bible a lot, and this is what I've discovered: Just like the unclean spirit over my child, there is a kingdom of darkness, a dominion of Satan and his rule, and there is a kingdom of God's dear Son.
"When Jesus came to the earth, He began to call people out of the kingdom of darkness into His own kingdom through repentance and faith in Him—receiving the forgiveness of sins and turning to follow Him. I don't know what you believe, but I'm just telling you what happened in my family and in my life. I want to tell you the real reason we're at your door. Jesus told us to go make disciples. I realize a lot of people are busy and can't go to church or don't want to. If you have a question there, you can't raise your hand and say, 'Pastor (or priest), what does what you just said mean?' So this is why we're coming to your door. In ten minutes we have a concentrated teaching from God's Word. Then we go to the Scriptures and ask some questions to make sure we all understand. It's really a dialog that goes back and forth. We're not preaching at people or telling them what the Bible says but trying to help them discover what it says by asking a few questions.
"Would that interest you? We'll set up a time at your convenience, come here to your home, and just talk to you and give you the lesson. If you don't get something out of the very first lesson, if it doesn't help, encourage, and build you up, you'll never see our faces again. We're not here to bother you, to get you to join a church or organization, or anything like that. We're only here to tell you what Jesus Christ did for you personally and help you come to understand the Word of God for yourself. There are a lot of things in the Bible we don't know or understand completely, but we're here to offer you a short study. Would you be interested in that?" A lot of people have said "Yes, I would be interested," so we set up a time to go into their homes and begin these discipleship lessons. We're not there to do what I call "microwave evangelism," twist their arm, and get them to say a little prayer when they don't even understand what they're doing. We follow the discipleship lessons and help them understand Christ and Him crucified.
I told a pastor about our discipleship lessons, and he said, "Don, what happens after the first lesson?" After the first lesson, a person understands what they need to do to respond to Jesus Christ and to receive the mercy and pardon He offers. We're not high- pressure salesmen. That's not our approach, but through the first lesson, they'll come to a realization of what they need to do from their heart. He then asked, "Well, what happens after lesson 15?" I said, "After lesson 15, if a person has stayed with us, they will have repented of their sins and been water-baptized and baptized with the Holy Sprit. We're seeing that kind of thing happen, not after lesson 15, but even after lesson 6."
In Matthew 28, Jesus said to go into the nations and make disciples and, in the process, baptize them in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. In the midst of discipling, we bring understanding of Jesus Christ and Him crucified to the unbeliever. In bringing that understanding week after week, we build a relationship with them, a friendship. They come to love and trust us. We're bringing God's Word to them, not coming to preach at them. We're reading the Scriptures, getting them to read them, and asking questions in a way that they see the answers from God's Word for themselves.
Week after week, we see people come to a place where they're willing to openly confess Christ because they know what it means to accept Him, to follow Him, and to be committed to Him. It's much different than many of the evangelism approaches today.
The way we go out to reach the lost is first of all by personal testimony, and each of us has a personal testimony. Many times we write our own tracts. I wrote one called "The Death of My Daughter," which I leave at doors many times. Other people on our Discipleship Evangelism team have written tracts, like "A Slave Set Free (renamed A Bottle of Taylor's Port Wine)," by Joe Rose, who was bound by alcohol and drugs and "The Death of a Dope Fiend (renamed I Liked the Way It Felt Getting Buzzed)," by Rocky Forry, who was bound by drugs since he was fifteen years old and Jesus set him free. We tell these testimonies at people's doors.
Some people say, "But I don't have a dynamic testimony. I didn't see my baby raised from the dead after eight minutes." I realize a lot of people don't have those kinds of testimonies. You might have a testimony like Andrew Wommack who had the power of God sustain his life, which, throughout his childhood, kept him out of the sin, filth, and ungodliness most people deal with. Each one of us has a testimony, and if you don't think yours is dynamic enough, use mine. When we first began our Discipleship Evangelism teams and started reaching out to people, Joe Rose used my testimony. After a while, he gave it better than I did, so I'd just say, "Hey, Joe, go ahead and tell them what happened to me."
If the Apostle Paul used his personal testimony three times in the New Testament in reaching the lost, you can do it too. We have computers today with all kinds of programs: Word Perfect, Microsoft Word, or whatever. It's very easy to set up a tract of your own personal testimony. It's much more effective to say, "This is not something I bought at a Bible book store. It's what happened to me that I'm sharing with you."
I'd like for you to sit down and begin to write your personal testimony—what happened to you—how you came to Jesus Christ. Then give your testimony to someone as if you were presenting it at someone's door.
If you need more information on this subject, look at the information on "Tips on Sharing Your Faith." Write your personal testimony, practice presenting it, and study "Tips on Sharing Your Faith." It is very important that you study it—not just read it—as you go out and evangelize the nations, one person at a time. God bless you.
- Read Mark 16:15."And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." - Mark 16:15Who is the Gospel to be proclaimed to?Answer
- Read Matthew 28:19‑20."19Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: 20Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen." - Matthew 28:19‑20Who should be discipled?Answer
- Read Acts 8:5, 26."5Then Philip went down to the city of Samaria, and preached Christ unto them. 26And the angel of the Lord spake unto Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south unto the way that goeth down from Jerusalem unto Gaza, which is desert." - Acts 8:5, 26Read Acts 16:13‑15, 23.Read Acts 20:20‑21."13And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither. 14And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul. 15And when she was baptized, and her household, she besought us, saying, If ye have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and abide there. And she constrained us. 23And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailer to keep them safely." - Acts 16:13‑15, 23"20And how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you, but have shown you, and have taught you publicly, and from house to house, 21Testifying both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks, repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ." - Acts 20:20‑21Where did evangelism take place?Answer
- Read Mark 4:11‑12."11And he said unto them, Unto you it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of God: but unto them that are without, all these things are done in parables: 12That seeing they may see, and not perceive; and hearing they may hear, and not understand; lest at any time they should be converted, and their sins should be forgiven them." - Mark 4:11‑12Before true conversion can take place, a person must:
- All of the above
- Read Acts 28:23‑24."23And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. 24And some believed the things which were spoken, and some believed not." - Acts 28:23‑24When Paul expounded and testified about the gospel, how long did he do so in order to convince people of the claims of Jesus?Answer
- Read Acts 16:14."And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul." - Acts 16:14When someone truly turns to Christ, what has to be opened?Answer
- Read Acts 2:37."Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?" - Acts 2:37What happens when a person's heart is opened and they are convicted?Answer
- Read Acts 16:31."And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house." - Acts 16:31Read Acts 2:38.And what is a person to do?"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." - Acts 2:38Answer
- Read Acts 2:42."And they continued stedfastly in the apostles' doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers." - Acts 2:42Read John 8:31‑32.And then what is a person to do?"31Then said Jesus to those Jews which believed on him, If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; 32And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." - John 8:31‑32Answer
- Read Romans 10:14‑15."14How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher? 15And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!" - Romans 10:14‑15In reverse order (in these scriptures), how does a person come to Christ?Answer