Luke 15:7 …there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.
Our testimonies can be a very powerful tool that God can use to strengthen believers, and to call non-believers into Himself. Over the course of the summer I have found myself sharing my testimony perhaps dozens of times. I’ve shared a couple times in front of groups of people...
But mostly I have shared my story on long car rides, or across the dinner table. I’ve spoken recently with maybe a dozen parents who have adult children who are currently living in darkness, away from the Lord. This is an all-too common story that breaks my heart, but at the same time, I know the saving power of Jesus Christ.
You see, I was an adult who had turned my back from God, from my parents, my church, and pretty much anything that had to do with Jesus. I was living my life for myself. I thought I was seeking freedom, but what I found was bondage. My sin was tangled around every part of my life, pulling me further and further into a pit of darkness. I was such a mess and was at the end of my rope financially, emotionally, spiritually, and every other –ly word you can use to describe your life! I was completely lost.
Even though I refused to have a relationship with my family, they prayed. They prayed and prayed. And I’m not talking about sweet bedtime prayers. I’m talking about battling in prayer. They knew that they were fighting a spiritual battle and that God heard their prayers.
Finally one night…August 21, 2004… I was completely gripped with anxiety and couldn’t sleep. I had had enough. I had been trying to do it on my own for so long, but I just wanted to get out of the messy life I had gotten myself into. Somehow or another I knew the answer was Jesus. But, what would I even say to Him? What could I say? Do I have the right to pray after everything I have done? I hadn’t prayed in years!
I simply said, “Save me.” I whispered it again. “Save me.” I began to sob. My shoulders shook as I repeated this very simple prayer, “Save me.”
In that moment I was changed. I was pure. I was forgiven. I was loved. I was a new woman. Praise the Lord. It felt as if Jesus came into my life and completely swept away the mess I had made of my life. I was completely clean inside. My stomach untangled. I could finally… breathe. I was free.
This is a real-life image of what Jesus did in the temple as recorded multiple times in the New Testament.
Matthew 21:12-13 Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. “It is written,” he said, “’My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a den of robbers.”
He turned over every table. He chased out every corrupt act from His temple. This is what He did for me. He cleansed me! Why? Because we are His temple.
1 Corinthians 3:16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are that temple and that God’s spirit dwells in you?
Every time I share how Christ saved me, the worst of sinners, I am once again reminded that Jesus continues to forgive me everyday. He loves us so much. I know that I was finally open to that love and was showered with grace because of my family’s prayers. Prayer works. God hears you. Keep praying.
So, what does this story have to do with Burundi? Maybe it doesn’t have anything to do with it. Or maybe it has everything to do with it. I am telling you, if some people who knew me 18 years ago found out that I was a Missionary today, they would laugh, or maybe not even believe you. Take courage that no matter where you have been, no matter what you have done - God’s grace is bigger. The blood of Jesus washes away all sin. Every single sin. And God has a plan for your life. You are never too far gone. Your son or daughter is not too far gone.
“Jesus, I pray that You storm into my life, Your temple. Turn over any table that shouldn’t be there. Chase out any unclean thing from my heart. Cleanse me, purify me like only you can. I want to live for You with all that I have.”
You see, the Gospel is not a story that you only need to hear once. I know I need to be reminded that Christ died for my sins and that He continues to forgive me and cleanse me from all unrighteousness.
I was recently asked to speak at a village church not far away from Kibuye. After reflecting on these very thoughts, I shared my testimony with them and told them how much Jesus loves them. The altars flooded with people repenting and asking God to cleanse them. At least one young woman came to Christ for the first time, Hallelujah! Heaven surely rejoiced.
So if you’re reading this and you are a follower of Christ, let me encourage you to share your testimony with someone! Redemption is a powerful thing, and maybe someone needs to hear your story of how Jesus redeemed you. And then pray. Pray for us living at what feels like the “frayed edges” of the world. Pray for Burundi. And pray for salvation across the globe.
If you’re reading this and you don’t know the Lord, or have not ever had a life-changing encounter with Jesus Christ, let us know and we will pray for you and with you. God loves you and has a plan for your life. Trust me, God's plans are always much more exciting than any plans we could make for our own life!
If you're reading this as a parent much in prayer for your son or daughter, be encouraged. Your child's story is not finished, this is just where you are in the story right now. But keep praying. If you would like to hear a little bit more of my story, you can watch this testimony video that my home church put together a few years ago. Reach out to us and we will pray with you. And just like Heaven rejoiced when I surrendered my life to Jesus, and just like they rejoiced a couple weeks ago for the woman at this village church who made a decision to follow Christ, we will pray for a day of rejoicing the day your child accepts Jesus as her Lord and Savior! Who knows, maybe she will become a missionary one day sharing her testimony of how God didn't give up on her. Praise the Lord!