Sharing Your Testimony
Share Your Transformation Story
By Hannah Goodwyn
CBN.com Senior Producer
Reading Byron Widner’s story online yesterday moved me deeply. The tear-inducing Associated Press article detailed why Widner, a former white supremacist “thug”, endured 25 painful surgeries to remove hate-laced tattoos from his face, neck, and hands.
According to a repost on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer’s website, the husband and father allowed MSNBC to film his story in a documentary that aired last summer titled “Erasing Hate”. Though it was dangerous for him and his family to just leave the “white pride” associations behind, the risks are even greater now that he is publicly exposing his story and the inner workings of these hate groups. Still, he considers this exposure and the excruciating pain of tattoo-removal surgery as a small price to pay for his past sins.
Widner’s courage to reveal his devious past for the sake of his family and in the hopes of dissuading anyone else from fallen into a hateful lifestyle is inspiring. The in-depth interview by AP special correspondent Helen O’Neill – a story that is now being trending on Yahoo! – is a testament to how man can change. The popularity of this interview shows just how much the public wants to hear transformation stories.
The AP interview alludes to the possibility that a spiritual revelation played a role in Widner’s life-altering decisions, but does not say for sure what led this former skinhead to clean up his act. Regardless, Widner’s interview brought to mind words a recent 700 Club guest said while sharing his intense story.
“Don’t be ashamed of your testimony,” said criminal-turned-missionary Sam Childers.
The ex-drug dealer’s story is a powerful one, so much so that Relativity Media is chronicling his miraculous salvation and work in war-ravaged Sudan in their November major motion release, The Machine Gun Preacher, starring Gerard Butler. During Childers’ visit to CBN, he encouraged anyone who would listen to not shy away from their story. He believes that’s a big problem in the Church; we are so focused on presenting ourselves as godly people that we forget and even downplay our past lives, who we were before turning to God.
How can anyone see the redemptive work of God’s grace in our lives if all we show is our Sunday best? Wretched sinners, Christ’s saving grace makes us clean. Our souls are made right before God the Father because of Jesus’ sacrifice. We have, some of us, forgotten where we were before we realized that.
We need to embrace our pasts, acknowledging God’s redemption in our lives. Each of us has a “testimony”, the story of when and how we were saved by grace. Don’t be afraid of sharing the full version, not a watered down one. We discredit God’s redemption when we downgrade our need for a Savior. It’s not just that one day we decided to follow a religion. It’s much deeper than that, and the world needs to know what you and I do. God is not a belief. He is a very real being. He is “I Am”. He is the beginning and the end. He is redeemer and our hope.
Plus, how boring would the Bible be if all of "juicy" details were left out? We would read the passages saying King David was a man after God’s own heart, but we wouldn't understand it fully without knowing his repentant heart after committing adultery and murder. What about the lustful, manipulated Samson or the demon-possessed Mary Magdalene, the betrayer Peter or the persecutor Saul?
We didn’t cry out to a superficial God to simply spruce up our image. We all needed a life-resurrecting God to save us from our sin, our pride, our depression.
“So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord…” II Timothy 1:8a
The enemy of our souls is defeated when we share God’s Word, but also by when we share our testimonies. Our lives are the continuing story. We are 21st century disciples, the good and the bad we do tell the whole picture of God’s mercy.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” I Timothy 1:15
Just as we aren’t to judge others, we can’t judge ourselves and the forgiven wrongs we committed. The Holy Spirit does the work of saving souls as He convicts and counsels, but we can be God’s first spoken words to people in this generation.
Share your story and let God do the rest.
Let all the world look to me for salvation! For I am God; there is no other. Isaiah 45:22
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles and information, visit Hannah's bio page.
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