It was one of my favorite things about my church growing up. Testimony Service. The preacher would get up behind the pulpit and say, “Tonight, we want to hear what the Lord has done in your life. So we’re just going to go around the room and testify.” He’d start at the front on the “older folks” side, (that was what I called it, cause, well most of the people who sat on that side were older folks, of course I was 5 so any side was the older side. – I digress) and work his way around the room. Some of them were simply unforgettable- Brother Mack would say, “I want to thank the Lord for waking me up this morning and starting me along life’s way. He didn’t have to but I’m glad he did..” It would impact me to watch grown, strong men like him, his brother Ralph, and their wives Sister Elsie, Sister Mildred, tell what God had done for them. They didn’t like to talk in public, but when they would talk about Jesus, they would be moved to tears. I remember Sister Carol, she would get so excited about what Jesus was doing in her life, she’d nearly go through the roof. Sister St.Clair would always ask us to pray for her children and grandchildren. Sister Ocie would always ask us to pray that she “would get the Baptism” She prayed like nobody I’d ever seen, to experience the empowering of the Holy Spirit and when it finally happened, I remember that testimony too – she couldn’t talk for crying with joy. Brother John, was a quiet voiced man, he struggled with a crippling disease, but he never seemed to talk about that, only how good God was. It was obvious that he loved Jesus, and Jesus loved him. Man – I remember it all like it was yesterday. What I’d give to go back to one of those old Testimony Services and listen again.
To testify means to tell what you have seen, witnessed or experienced. Its important to do that, especially in our faith walk. It encourages others, most importantly it publicly brings glory to God.
I want to testify this morning. Last night at Saturday Church was a turning point night for us. I’ve been trying to fight off discouragement and disappointment lately. Not seeing things happen the way I’d like to, seeing things happen that I wish wouldn’t. The last couple of weeks at Saturday Church were challenging. But this week, our lead team decided we were going to set time aside before Saturday Church to go into the coffee shop and pray before we did anything else. To simply declare together that the space we were occupying belonged to Jesus Christ, pronouncing His Lordship in that place, inviting the Holy Spirit to make His presence known among us as we gathered for worship. So we prayed, and a healthy group of people joined us. It was a different night from the get go. We have a large number of non-believers who join us on Saturday nights, many of them are like a fish out of water in a worship service, going in and out of the front doors, talking out loud during the sermon, sometimes even getting into arguments. It can be a little chaotic. Not last night. People listened intently to the Word. People sang, out loud, songs of worship, and it was BEAUTIFUL.
Afterwards I invited people to come pray with a volunteer if they wanted to follow Christ for the first time, or if they wanted to experience a life that was full of the Holy Spirit. I had just shared that the only way we can overcome temptation is to be full of the Holy Spirit. (Luke 4:1). Did they ever come? John came forward for prayer. I was blown away. He never comes inside to Saturday Church. He sits outside, walks around the block smoking cigs until we’re done then he comes in where his wife is and eats with us. He said, “I’ve carried so much anger in my life, but tonight I gave it to Jesus.” I thought his wife was going to come unglued. Every week, she fills out a connect card, asking us to pray for John. Last night some of her biggest prayers were answered.
Then there was the couple who came to Christ at the very same moment. He was praying with one volunteer, she was across the room praying with another volunteer. They both started their new lives in Christ at the same time. Would have loved to have seen the party in heaven over that one.
Afterwards we had our Volunteer Recap Meeting, and one of our elders and his wife said they prayed with a guy who came from the Walnut Street walking bridge. He had been reading in Acts 2 that day, a chapter I had referenced in the sermon. He prayed for an empowerment of the Holy Spirit last night and he just began to speak in tongues. No screaming, no yelling, no craziness, just simple praying and receiving. (Now, some of you might wig out on me here about the whole speaking in tongues part. That’s ok. I know in some circles that is seen as weird or crazy. Its not. Its a real experience and it doesn’t have to be weird or crazy. Its one of the mysterious gifts that God has made available through life in His Spirit. We can talk more about that later in another post. – I digress again).
I testify to this because all of this is what God has done. Not me. Not RiverChurch. God answers prayer, changes lives, sets people free, empowers those who want more of Him. I have seen this, witnessed it, experienced it. This is my testimony to the Glory of God.
Sorry this “testimony” was so lengthy. Testimony services were longggggg. Longer than the preachers sermons, but they were always just as good.
Hey – I have an idea – let’s have a testimony service right here – why don’t YOU testify? Here on this page or on my Facebook link. Let’s take some time to tell what God has done in your life. I’ll read every word, cause well I LOVE testimony time.
Ready. Set. Go.