A note from Chris Adams: For a number of years now, my friend, Linda Lesniewski, women’s minister at Green Acres Baptist Church, has been leading women through the process of discovering and sharing their stories. It has opened many doors to healing and evangelism for her, as you will see through this article. Don’t miss the free ebook link at the end to help you start using this process with your women’s ministry.
By Linda Lesniewski
God has provided a powerful strategy for believers to engage others with God’s truth―personal stories of faith! The Apostle Peter referred to this biblical principle in 1 Peter 3:15. Peter provided those early Christians some clear instructions during a time of Roman persecution. When others noticed how their response to these pressures differed from the non-believers around them, they were ready to gently and respectfully explain the hope Christ’s love and salvation had given them.
Believers today are once again discovering the effectiveness of this same principle in today’s climate of skepticism. I’ve discovered that stories are one of the key resources leaders can use to engage younger generations. These stories of hope include our testimonies, but they also permeate our entire lives’ journey. They embrace all the times God comforted us so that we can “comfort those who are in any kind of affliction through the comfort we ourselves receive from God” (1 Corinthians 1:4 HCSB).
I’ve observed, though, that many women are just like me. We haven’t taken the time to find God’s comfort within a particular life experience. I had walled off wounds that begged for attention and for the light of God’s love, grace, and merciful touch. There were many reasons why. Childhood experiences required adult guidance for processing and competent adults weren’t always available to do that.
Sometimes the busyness of life simply moved me forward leaving issues unaddressed. Painful emotions or my lack of skills in knowing what to do with some experiences stalled me. Regardless of the reasons, God wanted me to give Him permission to redeem them and be willing for Him to use them in others’ lives. Only then would He be able to use these spiritual truths to encourage someone else in their own journey.
Following is a specific moment in my life that demonstrated God’s tenderness and grace. By writing it down, it can demonstrate to someone else ways God works to heal. It’s a tangible example of what it means when we say, “God is love.”
I sat in the church balcony while listening to a guest harpist. I marveled at his expertise and joy in using his talent for the Lord. He eventually launched into such a beautiful melody that I closed my eyes to savor the experience. I thought of heaven and decided this must be very similar to the music there. I then began adding faces of family members to my mental image of heaven. I included Granny, Granddad, Aunt Dorothy and Uncle Ollie. Oh yes, Mother and Daddy were there! I knew for sure Daddy was enjoying the music of heaven. Unexpected joy flooded in when I realized their conflicted relationship was also healed — not as husband and wife but as children of God living in heaven. Tears coursed down my cheeks as I imagined them sharing laughter and joy together.
The harpist completed his melody. As I opened my eyes I realized the Lord had just brought me to a new level of healing, a new level of releasing my parents into His care. Throughout the rest of the concert I basked in that moment of unexpected joy and marveled at the goodness of God in offering me this tender gift. As I grow in my sensitivity to the Holy Spirit’s prompts to share a story, I’m realizing a growing number of avenues: face-to-face conversations, emails, texts, letters, blogs or phone calls. All of these avenues provide opportunities to tell of God’s love and how He demonstrated it to me. I’ve discovered that my life is not my own, I’ve been bought with a price. If my life is not my own, then my stories are not my own, no matter how the story unfolds. Even when our questions aren’t answered immediately, having faith that God was there and that He will one day heal our hurts and redeem our losses demonstrates our confidence in a living, loving, and personable God.
As I began to help other women identify and discover God in their stories, I realized the need for a strategy. His Story, My Story grew out of that need for a resource to guide women through the process. LifeWay has now made it available as a free download. It’s a six-week individual or small group resource that guides women to find God at work in their lives. It uses obscure stories of biblical women to remind them of similar life experiences. Each week the participant is challenged to develop one of these events to discover how God has redeemed it, how He has comforted them, how He was glorified, or ways He has used it to shape their lives.
Recommended Resource: Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level
Linda Lesniewski is the women’s minister at Green Acres Baptist Church in Tyler, Texas, and a LifeWay Ministry Multiplier. She is a contributor to the book Transformed Lives: Taking Women’s Ministry to the Next Level, and has authored Women at the Cross and Connecting Women: A Relational Guide for Leaders in Women’s Ministry. Linda is mother of four young adults and grandmother of six little girls.