The LDS use of the word “testimony” is different than the Evangelical one. This confuses Evangelicals because LDS like to talk about their testimonies quite a bit, but they’re talking about something different than Evangelicals. Kullervo has an interesting post about what a testimony is in the LDS world.
For Evangelicals, a testimony is a person’s story about how they became a Christian. For a couple of reasons I’ve decided to share my testimony with all of you. I hope you enjoy learning a little bit more about me.
I was born to my parents as they were still college students. My dad was studying to be a pastor and eventually became one. There has never been a time in my life when I have not been in Christian culture. If I was Mormon, you could say I was born in the covenant and had all of the pedigree of pioneer stock. When I was 6 years old I went to a summer camp (nothing like Jesus Camp) that my dad was speaking at . On one of the last nights my dad invited anyone who wanted to accept Jesus into their heart to come up to the altar. Receiving Jesus into my heart was something my mom had talked to me about a couple of times but I didn’t really understand what it was. As I knelt at the altar I still didn’t really understand what I was doing, but I felt compelled to be there. A stranger (my dad had no idea that I had come forward) led me through a prayer which I repeated. Afterwards I finally knew what it was that everyone was talking about.
I continued my life as a PK (pastor’s kid) and did my best to be an example to the other kids around me. It was really important to me to do the right things and not to sin. When I was 8 or so I was baptized by the prodding of my parents. I didn’t really know what it was but I did it anyways.
About this time my parents dropped a bombshell on me. We were going to be moving out of the United States and they were going to become full time missionaries. Later on we found out that we would be permanently moving to the Philippines. I was not too happy about it, I rather enjoyed my life in the United States and it didn’t need to be upset. Later another missionary told me what life was like for MKs (missionary kids) and I was a little bit more excited to learn that I could go swimming all year long in the Philippines. When we finally got to the field my parents became Bible college teachers and trained Filipinos to be pastors.
When I was 16 years old I experienced one of the most monumental moments in my life. The mountainous city we lived in suffered two powerful earthquakes within 10 minutes of each other. The first was a magnitude 7.6 centered about 100 miles away. This triggered a second earthquake that measured 8.2 centered directly beneath our feet. I literally thought I was experiencing the end of the world as I saw the earth and the buildings around me do things they were not intended to do.
Eventually I gathered with a number of the college students in an open field as we waited out the scores of aftershocks that struck. They were so severe that we started watching the tall pine trees around us to make sure they did not fall on us. It was in this moment of terror that I heard some one say “let’s pray.” The suggestion seemed preposterous to me. We had made it to safety on our own, I heard myself saying “what did we need God for?” It was hearing these words run through my head that made me realize that I was a faker.
By all external measures I was a Christian. I attended church 3 times a week, I didn’t swear, I didn’t fight, I didn’t get mixed up in any of the things that might tempt a 16-year old. I obeyed all of the commandments, I knew all of the lingo and most importantly I had accepted Jesus into my heart. It was in that moment that I realized that I had accepted Jesus as my Savior but I had never accepted him as the Lord of my life. As I had figured out every way to mimic and conform to Christian culture, I was out to please the Christians around me, but nothing more.
It’s difficult revamp your faith when your behavior is not the issue but rather your heart. Particularly when behavior is the benchmark you’ve learned to measure with. I discovered a book titled “The Divine Conspiracy” by Dallas Willard that has helped me immensely. I highly recommend it. I’ve learned how to begin to love the things that Christ loves. Then with great confidence I know that right motivations leads to right action. My focus is on what I should DO rather than what I should NOT DO. My eternal life in the Kingdom doesn’t start when I die, but rather it has already begun. As Jesus says, it is here and it is available to us now.