The book of Hebrews mentions two types of testimonies. We all prefer the first kind, when saints conquered kingdoms, destroyed the enemy, slew giants. The second kind of testimony is altogether different: Christians were sawed in half, they starved, they froze, they hid in caves.
It is too easy for Christians today to live off the testimonies of others. How often do we catch ourselves saying, “Have you heard about the spiritual awakening in Africa?” “The church in America does a great work among the poor.” “Our church has opened its doors to reach drug addicts.” We should rejoice in the faithfulness of those making a difference in Christ’s name, of course, but Paul refused to live vicariously through another’s work: “Nor do we boast and claim credit for the work someone else has done. Instead, we hope that your faith will grow so that the boundaries of our work among you will be extended” (2 Corinthians 10:15, NLT).
You may think your life doesn’t measure up—that you don’t deserve a boast-worthy testimony—but that is not the issue. Everything can change with one simple prayer of faith. Just before I preached recently, a woman in church told me about something that had happened that week. After thirty-eight years of being addicted to marijuana, God had set her free! It happened through a simple visit from two lay ministers in our church. As they sat praying with her, she grew convicted over the pot in her apartment and immediately threw it out.
The woman’s deliverance is real and lasting. She has obtained a boast-worthy testimony of God’s power to deliver—and the two lay ministers have a testimony as well. God used them in a way they could not have orchestrated. All three can say, “Look at what God did in our midst today.”
With even the smallest beginning, faith starts to rise up in our hearts. We realize, “God did it last week and He can do it again this week.” I want to boast that our church has powerfully effective ministries that were launched just this way—because an individual was faithful to help one person. In every case, a believer’s prayerful act led to a counseling ministry, a mercy ministry, a discipleship ministry, and more. The same can be true for every believer. As we build a history of testimonies, our faith will grow to seek God for greater things.