Show and Tell
The last thing Jesus said to His disciples before ascending to heaven is that they--and we--would be witnesses.
"But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8 NIV)
A witness sees or experiences something important, and reports to others what they have seen or experienced. The thing I remember experiencing the night I gave my life to Jesus was a deep, powerful peace. My sins were forgiven. God was not mad at me. I wanted to know Him and to please Him, not to rebel against Him. And I have told others where they can find such peace many, many times since that night.
I have seen miracles. I have seen answers to prayer. Shirley had a spot on her breast revealed during a mammogram a few years ago. The doctor ordered a needle biopsy. Three days later we reported to the hospital and Shirley was prepped. She went to surgery, and I went to the cafeteria to get some breakfast. To my surprise, the doctor came to the cafeteria to find me and tell me what had happened. When he went to locate the spot to know exactly where to insert the needle, he was surprised to find there was nothing there! He gave a plausible medical explanation: sometimes these spots are watery cysts that reabsorb on their own. I smiled and said to him, "Yes, and sometimes God answers prayer." He broke into a smile and agreed.
What has God done in my life that I can give witness to? How has He blessed me? What prayers has He answered? Where have I seen His hand at work in my life? How has my heart changed in the past couple of weeks or months?
Jesus did not tell the disciples, "You will receive power, and you will be my theologians..." He did not say, "You will receive power, and you will be my explainers." The job description Jesus gives His followers is to make known what He has done in our lives--not just with each other in Church, but in Jerusalem (our local community), in Judea (the surrounding territory), in Samaria (across cultures) and to the ends of the earth (internationally).
How can I be part of making a witness for Jesus? It's as simple as the old elementary school activity, show and tell. Do you remember show and tell? We would bring in something from home that was important to us. We each took a turn to stand in front of the class and show the thing we brought from home to our fellow students, and tell what it meant to us.
Have I experienced the amazing grace of Jesus Christ? I can show grace to others and tell them how grace has changed my life. Have I experienced the deep love of God? I can show love to others (by serving sacrificially) and tell them God loves them and I love them. Show and tell. It is the most basic form of witnessing. And under the direction and power of the Holy Spirit, God can use our showing and our telling to make an eternal difference in other people's lives.
Through our missions partnerships at Dayton United Methodist Church, we show and tell the life-changing good news of Jesus Christ in Jerusalem (through Trinity Life Ministries), in Judea (through Narrow Gate discipleship ministry), in Samaria (through Teen Challenge of Indiana) and to the ends of the earth (through church planting and medical missions in Ghana, West Africa, through International Leadership Institute's leadership training, through Impact Ministries in Guatemala and through Hope for Today in India). We send teams to Ghana and Guatemala each year to embody our partnership with those ministries. And we impact each of these ministries profoundly through our prayers and our giving of financial Faith Promises to them.
There is one key principle we American Christians need to really get. When the Holy Spirit has hold of our lives, witnessing is far more than writing a check for missionaries. It means rolling up our sleeves and being involved in the work God is doing in our families, in our neighborhoods, in our schools and in our workplaces. What will I do today to show and tell what Jesus has done for me?