Written by Oluwatosin Fatade
Testimony time, blessing time! Testimony time, overcomers’ time! Then comes the two minute window where people are either cajoled to remember what God has done or they are begged to forget or postpone their appearance. I particularly love it in places where you must have indicated earlier of your intention to testify before the service. But those places where the moderator seeks for testifiers at the testimony time, there are some category of people who will eventually come out to testify. Their opening statement usually goes thus; “I didn’t initially want to come out to testify, but…” it is those kinds of people you’ll eventually have to wrestle for the microphone or switch it off from technical unit when you lose the match.
The aim of any testimony should be to glorify God and encourage others. No one should ever intentionally or unintentionally intimidate the listeners with a testimony. It is not as much the content of the testimony that intimidates, but the manner of delivery. Many folks try to do some storytelling to make the testimony moving and legit. In the attempt to do such, many have delved into the realms of fiction and conjuring of tales. Not all details are needed for a testimony, just enough to bring God glory and encourage.
I also think not all testimonies are necessary. Nowhere in the scriptures are we told of an impending reversal or punishment if you fail to testify of the goodness of God. God daily loads us with benefits, we can’t tell of all the things he has done and is doing for us. We only end up telling of the few we consider big and on point. We must not be sensational in our service and devotion to God. Some benefits you receive are so obvious to all that if you go ahead to share it as a testimony, it will be nothing short of bragging and intimidation. We must apply wisdom in all our dealings.
When you mount the stage to share a testimony, what exactly is your aim? To edify others, or to impress, or to give glory to God? We are commanded to exhort and encourage others and build up their faith, testimonies if properly shared and delivered can achieve some of this.
Another point to take good note of is the temptation to make our testimonies sound like a cause and effect scheme. We attribute whatever we consider the testimony to be as a result of something we might have done recently or in the past; or something someone else did for us. Take a cue from the blind man who received his sight after meeting with Jesus. He testified before the Pharisees. He had no idea who Jesus really was or how He restored his sight. But he was clearly sure of one fact that he was blind, he met Jesus and his sight was restored (John 9). Say it as it is, always! That is different from when someone gets a new job and attributes it to the evangelism he just did the previous week. God does work in mysterious and unexplainable ways, the more reason we shouldn’t attempt to explain. Just say what has happened and how happy you are about it, no need to ascribe wrongly.
Yet another category is those who dubiously achieved something and decide to bribe God with the glory. If you cheated in your exams and aced, don’t come and testify in church that God gave you straight ‘A’s, don’t! If your scam scheme paid off for you, don’t come to give glory that God blessed your hustle.
My friend and brother, Adebayo said “a testimony shouldn’t turn into another sermon; you don’t suddenly become an authority on healing because you got healed”. Be truthful at all times, if you had problems conceiving and had to do In-Vitro Fertilization (IVF), say it as it is – you did IVF and God worked through doctors to make it successful (not all IVF attempts are). Don’t climb to stage to confabulate stories of how you got pregnant by laying on of hands, you are not Mary and we don’t need another Saviour! You will end up achieving the opposite of edifying people when they find out the true story, and trust me, they will.
If God has really done something in your life and you would want to share, by all means do and make sure it is to give God all the glory and to edify others. The testimonies of changed lives after meeting with Jesus, or souls won to Christ on an outreached encourages me far more than some others. Jesus told His disciples when they returned from their first outreach to rejoice, not because demons fled and the sick were healed but because their names were written in heaven. We have bodily needs too, and signs and wonders are very desirable for us even here on earth; but the treasures we lay for ourselves in heaven are far more important and lasting.
Testimony moderators also need to learn not to coerce people. If it is testimony time and nobody offers to testify, pray and leave, stop reminding people that waking up and being alive is a testimony.