Small beginnings eventually affect entire communities. When my father, David Wilkerson, started a church in Times Square, the main area on 42nd Street was a darkened mess. Every few feet one could see a drug dealer or a prostitute or a porn theater. My dad’s approach to any ministry was always to begin in prayer—and he asked me to lead a Friday night prayer meeting at the church.
Those first meetings drew twenty to thirty people. We faithfully cried out for God to bring change to the city. Over time, our meetings grew to almost eight hundred people. As we lifted our voices in travailing prayer, God placed a burden on our hearts for 42nd Street. So we took our praying efforts to the street, where we handed out tracts.
Soon we noticed changes taking place. There were fewer drug addicts and prostitutes around. One by one the porn palaces closed. Finally, a developer came in and bought up property after property. Today, the principal business presence in Times Square is the Walt Disney Company, and 42nd Street may now be the most wholesome block in New York City. I believe this is partly due to a praying people who believed God to do great things.
The first effect of a godly testimony is the building up of our faith. The second effect is the building up of others’ faith: “I may seem to be boasting too much about the authority given to us by the Lord. But our authority builds you up; it doesn’t tear you down” (2 Corinthians 10:8, NLT). Paul is saying, in essence, “Not only did God work mightily through my life. His work in me and through me is meant to stir up your faith to greater works.” Our faith is contagious. It builds up the faith of others to engage in greater acts of boldness.
Paul’s final boast is a curious one: “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am” (11:30). His point is this: Our good testimony will never result from our own strength. Our boast will always be, “Without God, I am not a giant slayer—I am a shepherd. I am not a wall builder—I am a cup bearer. I am not a deliverer—I am a shepherd wandering in the Egyptian desert.”
Our testimony will never come from our own strength, zeal or effort. If we lean on any of these things, our testimony will lose its power. But the more we acknowledge our inability, the more God’s power will rest on us: “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me” (2 Corinthians 12:9, ESV).