(Photo: Saddleback Church/Vu Le)
Evangelist Pastor Greg Laurie said he believes that every Christian's personal testimony is significant whether their story of coming to know Jesus Christ is less "radical" than another person's story or not.
"How did you come to know Jesus Christ? That is your testimony," Laurie, the leader of Harvest Ministries and pastor of Harvest churches in Southern California, writes in his blog posted Friday. "Some stories [may] be more radical than others, but every testimony is significant."
Laurie shared an email letter from a former member of gang known for its extreme violence. The man came to Christ at a Harvest Crusade more than 22 years ago.
The ex-gang member writes:
"On that divine Thursday evening in 1991, God took this lost, suicidal, hardened, 15-year-old member of the Crips and radically transformed me. My life was instantly revolutionized, and I've never been the same since. Next month, I will celebrate 23 years in the Lord. By God's grace I've had the privilege of ministering His Word all around the world. Had I not gone to the Harvest Crusade that evening, I'm confident that I would now either be dead or in prison!"
Laurie writes that despite the man's amazing testimony, his transformational story is "no better than yours. Just different."
He said he remembers that as a young Christian, a girl telling him that she was going to "go back into the world because she wanted a 'more dramatic testimony.'"
"She never came back," Laurie explained. "Listen, not everyone's story may be dramatic, but everyone's conversion is drastic, because when you get down to it, God essentially does the same thing for all of us at conversion:
We were all separated from Him by sin.
We were all going to hell.
We all come to salvation through the cross.
And now we are headed for heaven."
He emphasized that everyone's story is "legit" because everyone essentially starts from the same place in life and can experience a dramatic change at the hand of God.
Laurie adds, "And no matter how different their circumstances may be from yours, those who listen to your testimony can recognize that they too are sinners and need change - they can see a part of their story in yours.
"When you share your faith with others, one of the best tools in your evangelistic toolbox is your personal testimony. But it should always be a bridge to share the gospel. Your story points them to the greatest story ever told: the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ."
He concludes his post by asking, "So, what's your story?"
Laurie and Harvest Ministries is preparing for outreach events in Southern California later this month and in Philadelphia for "Harvest America" Sept. 28,29.
On the Web: http://harvest.org/.