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I Have a Testimony


I grew up in a Christian home and strayed from what I knew was right. Now I’m in prison. I recently gave my life back to the Lord, and I’m scheduled to be released in a few months. I want to share my story with other troubled teens. What’s a good way to do that?

Steve Answers:

First of all, let me say, "Welcome back!"

It seems as though God never gives up on us. That’s good news for people in prison as well as for those out of prison.

My simple answer to your question is "Tell people what God has done for you." That’s it!

Sometimes when people share their story of living apart from God, they spend most of the time giving vivid descriptions about their lifestyle without God. Surprisingly, some listeners feel a lure to experience that same kind of lifestyle. They might even think that they too will have a wonderful testimony if they live that way for a while!

For some reason they don’t understand that your real testimony is the joy of being free from your past. So I’d suggest not spending a lot of time on details about your activities before committing to Christ. Share enough to let people know that you were living apart from God.

As you talk about your past, though, be careful not to sugarcoat it by saying that sin was always bad. Nobody would get involved in sin if it were all bad. It can be exciting and new and give a person a sense of independence–that is, until they get bored of the whole thing or get addicted and eventually imprisoned in one form or another.

After your testimony you may find that teens who are trying to be cool may come and quiz you for more details. Listen to their story, and see what parts you can identify with. You can acknowledge what you’re familiar with, but I’d recommend that after listening you steer the conversation toward why you chose to return to God and what the results have been.

Remember the "wild" story in the Bible about the demon-possessed man and the herd of pigs (see Mark 5:1-20)? After Jesus sent the man’s demons into that bunch of pigs, He gave the healed man this commission: "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you" (Mark 5:19).

Like the cleansed man, go to your family and tell them what Jesus has done for you and how He’s had mercy on you. Then tell others–teens, adults, kids.

You can do this one-to-one with people. And you can do it in small groups, at Sabbath school, at Adventist schools. Share your story with church leaders, too, and ask them where else they think it would be helpful to share.

Don’t wait to tell your story until you get out of prison. Start sharing it with those around you right now. Don’t let negative reactions get you down. Your role is to share the story. How people respond to it is between God and them.

One other thing. Be on the lookout for other things God will do in your life and through you. Then you’ll have other stories to add to this wonderful one. 

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