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    Testify!

    Sharing the hope we have in Christ is central to our faith. April 13, 2018 by Colonel Lee Graves
    Filed Under:
    Opinion & Critical Thought
    Photo: © 60kean/iStock.com
    We've just celebrated Easter, a time when we rejoice in what Christ has done for us. I am reminded of a practice in the Army that seems to be increasingly left out—the testimony period, once a much-anticipated part of the Sunday evening service. Some were short: “Saved and satisfied.” You could expect someone to quote a favourite Bible verse or a stanza from the song book, often the beloved line: “When I first commenced my warfare many said I’d run away; But they all have been deceived, in the fight I am today” (SASB 856). But the real gems were the accounts of what the Lord had done in the testifier’s life that week—perhaps an encounter where they were able to share their faith, or how they had experienced God’s promises.

    The format of the testimony period varied. Sometimes it was planned ahead, with a few people, such as the newly enrolled, asked to share. Other times it was the “popcorn” or “snowball” style— often dreaded, because you never knew when you might be called upon to stand up and testify.

    But sharing the hope we have in Christ is central to our faith. We should “always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15). Have our services become so neat and tidy that the testimony period has lost its place? Has it been all but squeezed out? Have our services become so sanitized and scripted that there’s no room for the Holy Spirit to speak spontaneously through his people? “For it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Matthew 10:20).

    The testimony period is one of the hallmarks of our worship services, and part of our practical training. If we are accustomed to sharing our faith indoors, we will be more likely to share it outdoors.

    Let us not forget the example of the early church, and the power of testimonies. Peter, the untrained yet inspired speaker after Pentecost? Stephen, full of the Holy Spirit? Paul, once Saul? Salvationists were once known to be ready, in season and out of season, to share that word of witness noted in our song book: “I want to tell you what the Lord has done, what the Lord has done for me” (SASB 852). Are Salvationists ready today?

    You might expect that the chief secretary would look to our orders and regulations for guidance on this subject. For corps officers, it reads: “Testimony should have an important place in meetings. The officer should encourage voluntary testimony in addition to testimony by invitation. New converts should be urged to testify. Such testimonies will often help strengthen the resolve of the convert and at the same time encourage and inspire others.”

    For soldiers, “the victorious life demands open and courageous confession before other people about one’s wish to live as a Christian. Because it has always been the conviction of The Salvation Army that those who have experienced the salvation of Christ are called to be witnesses for him, right from the moment of his conversion the convert should be prepared to witness by his word of testimony.” I encourage soldiers to read the rest of the relevant sections in Chosen to be a Soldier under the headings “Witnessing and Working” and “Public Speaking.”

    If we are not doing so already, can we consider giving the testimony period more prominence in our worship services? Personal witness is of high importance. “For the Holy Spirit will teach you at that time what you should say” (Luke 12:12).

    Colonel Lee Graves is chief secretary of the Canada and Bermuda Territory.


    Comment

    On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, Judith Hann said:

    Recently Re-Enrolled Soldier at Yorkminster Citadel - Standing Proud to Give My Testimony

    My Faith Journey I have spent the majority of my adult years being influenced by the evils of the world. I always believed in God but I believed that I wasn't worthy to follow Him.

    God tried to get my attention. Every time I felt the wave wash over me I said, “After everything I have done, why would you want me?” I was consumed with doubt and fear so I didn’t listen to God.

    More recently, a masked evil influence was destroying the things and people around me. God gave me the opportunity to see the true face of evil to show me that I was on a bad path. In the depths of despair for my guilt by association, I turned to God. He gave me the strength and courage to leave my pain and fears behind. He taught me to forgive through empathy and compassion. I was no longer interested in the evils that had controlled my life. God was patient and had loved me unconditionally all of this time.

    I was following a good path, so I thought that was it. God continued to call me. I knew what He wanted but I feared that I could not live up to His plan so I didn't answer Him. He kept calling; putting me in the paths of others and giving me the opportunity to share what He has done for me. So I shared and I thought that was it. God continued to call me. Again I doubted that I could not live up to His plan. He put someone in my path; a kind and gentle soul that encouraged me to go to church. I started going to church so I thought that was it.

    God called me at church. God called me through that kind and gentle soul on a regular basis. God called me daily for a deeper relationship; a commitment.

    The wave washed over me and rolled me over. I said yes to God and gave my life over to Him completely. Part of this commitment is living a lifestyle of servanthood, studying His word, keeping His commandments, keeping all thoughts and deeds that are pleasing in His eyes. I chose to do all of this and participate in the war against evil as a Uniformed Salvationist. I am grateful for every opportunity to bear witness to His love and compassion for all of His children.

    Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. Now all things are of God, who reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed us to the word of reconciliation. Therefore we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us; we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled with God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

    2 Corinthians 5: 17-21

    Thank you to Colonel David Gruer for being a driving influence in my faith journey. Thank you to all of His faithful servants that have led by example at my second home. I am grateful to work in a place where I can bear witness of God’s love and mercy to my residents, coworkers, volunteers and visitors.

    He only is my rock and my salvation; He is my defence; I shall not be moved.

    Psalm 62:6

    Judith Hann

     

    On Wednesday, April 18, 2018, Lovelett said:

    Yes, I grew up in a Pentecostal church. The testimony service held a big place. As another person stated, the testimony is helpful to the newly converted and it also inspires the faith of those listening.It brings confidence to the believer and it gives glory to God1

     

    On Monday, April 16, 2018, Robert Dicks said:

    Very sad when the Holy Spirit is quenched,and humans lead the meetings.This is not Scriptural! I have seen the person holding the Testimony period say we will have 2 testimony's from the left side, 2 from the center roll,and 2 from the right side. I have to ask is this led by the Holy Spirit or of human desire?If it's a small corp, maybe it would be better to have a prayer meeting1 I'm sure that in today's world there are many things to pray about, that God is really concerned about,like the falling away from the church and the souls of men. In the day's of Peter, John,Paul and the rest of the apostles and even the founder of the Salvation Army. Was not the soul's of men the main concern?

     

    On Sunday, April 15, 2018, Judy said:

    I think it's about time it was brought back and should never have been taken out in the first place. Sometimes one could be long-winded and yes, it was usually the same ones but the testimony itself is meant for that one struggling soul who can be uplifted by that repetitve testimony. It's not meant to entertain the regulars but if one soul is lifted or encouraged, the saint should be thankful and rejoice in a job well done.

     

    On Sunday, April 15, 2018, Diane Steadman said:

    If it is left out it is because people were not testifying. You had the same people always getting up because no one else would and sometimes some could be so long winded and took a lot of time, without adding anything of significance. I used to have it regularly, but don't now for those reasons. I only have it occasionally. In a small corps of 14.

     

    On Saturday, April 14, 2018, Edgar king said:

    Many souls have been won by the influence of a godly testimony. Sad that it is shelved in most corps today

     

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