My Personal Testimony on Gospel Sharing
By Gary Estacio
“He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”.
Sharing this testimony does not make me any better than any of you brethren. Some of you are more burdened, prolific and consistent when it comes to evangelism. I just wanted to share how my burden started hoping and praying that somehow my little testimony could encourage you to share the gospel more deliberately especially that we are in a lockdown.
Where it all started
There was a time in my life that I really wanted to share the gospel, but I am reluctant, because at first I don’t have the boldness, and secondly, I do not have a good grasp on how to do it. A couple of years ago, I cannot recall the exact time, I happened to join SIGA as they go down to Pangasinan to minister to Brother Junjo’s relative’s wake. As brother Cris Paguergan started sharing the gospel, I got inspired by his boldness and eloquence in gospel presentation. I remember praying to God to save the people that are there and at the same time, I earnestly asked God to equip me to do the same. There started the desire to deliberately share the gospel.
Training and practice
I started joining different gospel presentation trainings such as “The way of the master”, “The Gift” and others. I joined OJT opportunities at Burnham Park, listening and trying to share the gospel myself. I practiced sharing the gospel first to my 4 children every time I have an opportunity to talk to them. Praised God for they are all believers now. Also to my dad, who was a practicing catholic with a cultic background at that time, he died 4 years later having a personal saving relationship with Jesus. Then to our laundry woman, who happened to be a “hilot” or a local healer in our barangay. Never did I expect that there will be a violent reaction from her as if she is possessed with something. I got goose bumps, thinking what I had myself into.
We were in Tuel, one of the places GLCC tried to do outreach before. I just completed the gospel presentation to a group of elderly people when somebody from my back asked a question in their local dialect: “sir, what can say about my visions, I happened to see my dead brother asking for clothing and food?”, without bothering to figure out who was speaking, and what is his context, I answered: “Manong, in Hebrews 9:27, it said, it is appointed for man to die once, afterwhich, comes judgment, meaning, once a person dies, he is either with Lord, if he is saved, or in the place torment if he is not. Now, as for the brother in your vision, it’s no longer him, the devil could appear to be like your brother to deceive you.” Never did I know that he would respond in rage that he is about to attack me, accusing me of making his brother the Devil. It’s good that we have someone from the group who happened to speak their local dialect and pacified the mad Manong. I really thought I won’t get out of there alive. Lesson: always be careful and wise when handling the gospel especially in an unchartered territory.
Miracle and an extension
During my chemo-radiation therapy in Dagupan City, the Lord burdened me to share the gospel with my “classmates” at the hospital. I took the chance to share it with several people, knowing that many of us may not last long. It includes Kuya Willy, who seemed to be an eccentric old man. I got close to him, even with his wife, but eventually he died after several months of fighting CA. The wife called to tell me that the he wanted me to pray for him at his deathbed.
Three days before my scheduled colorectal surgery, I was told by brother Quinn that since the tumor is at the lower part of the colon, there will be two possibilities: one is that the anastomosis (reconnecting the colon) is via suture, and that he has to cancel the special staples (it’s not needed anymore), or I might have permanent colostomy bag for the rest of my life, depending on the actual situation during the surgery. As I contemplate on these possibilities, agony and worry begins to set in until the night before the actual procedure. The Lord allowed me to go back to the gospel once more and as I start to meditate on the depth of my salvation, the peace that I cannot comprehend engulfed my heart. The operation started at 6:30 am and end up at 3 pm. A day after, Doc Quinn related to me what transpired during the operation. The procedure is formidable, he has to tag along another Surgeon, of whom I never had a chance to meet before I went to the operating room. When I was “opened up” and the tumor is removed, the other Surgeon saw that my colon can still be reconnected via staples and not via suture, meaning I don’t have to be on colostomy. But where can they get the staples now? Well, that Surgeon has a spare staples sitting on his car for the longest time. They have to ask one the Interns to go to his car and get it. It was short of a miracle. To my delight and thankfulness before the Lord, I cannot help but boast it to the people who visited me while I am recuperating, at the same time, used it as a jump-off point to share the gospel to some of them. Lo and behold, I never knew that too much talking after stomach surgery can have complications. I suffered bloating and severe abdominal pain, and I have to stay three more days at the hospital. It’s all worth it though!
Two answered prayers
I am a recipient of God’s unmerited favor. He saved me, a stubborn sinner by sending His Son Jesus to die and pay the penalty of my sin. He rose again to secure my future. His gift of faith enabled me to repent and believe that indeed Jesus is my only Savior and Lord. Not only that, He even gave me second leash on life. From then on, I prayed earnestly for God to give me opportunities to share the gospel. He answered that prayer big time. I never lacked opportunity to share it. In funerals, weddings, birthdays, at the office, I even had a chance to share the gospel to my boss, on airplanes, vehicles, schools, on medical missions, at Burnham Park and at the pulpit. It is unprecedented that there were times I have to choose which way to go. God never failed to give me chances. Of course it’s only by God’s enabling grace that I had that boldness to do it so. One day, I asked the Lord, is my gospel sharing effective? How come I am not seeing anyone change, or see some fruits of my effort? So I prayed an endearing prayer to God if He could just at least allow me to see some fruits. We just came from gospel sharing at a funeral, my son Earl, confessed to me that this is the first time he really understood the gospel, even after being in the church and serving already, and he was thanking me as he praise God for saving him that night. What I am pointing is, it is God’s desire for people to get saved, He will give us opportunities to share the gospel when we ask of Him.
This COVID-19 scare brought about so much fear among people. It’s a ground that we can use to share the gospel, but physically it is difficult. Just like what others do, I thought of sharing the gospel via Facebook. So I created presentations and made posts about the gospel. My thinking is that, among my 2000+ friends, many are unbelievers, one or two may come to know Christ through my gospel posts. Indeed, some of them started liking my posts and one woman pm’ed me to share the gospel to her. I am deeply convinced that God is calling each one of us to share the gospel in whatever medium we can use. We cannot be defeated by the circumstances, in fact, I believe that we should double our efforts to reach out to the lost by sharing the gospel through social media. We don’t know what may be the outcome, but at the very least, we heed the call of our Lord to share the gospel. Let’s trust that He would use that sharing to save His elect. Of course this does not replace in any way our physical face-to-face evangelism. It’s just that while we are on lockdown and unable to go out, we should be challenged to continue to share the gospel in any means we can. Below are some of the best practices I gathered from the internet on how to effectively share the gospel via social media.
Some Principles to consider
According to Social Media Today, there are over 2 billion active users on social media and the user base has increased by 176 million since last year. The harvest is enormous in terms of souls that can be won and encouraged by the word of God. However, we must be strategic and purposeful.
Whether we realize it or not, social media has become integral part of our lives, we cannot separate what we post from our lives. People are looking and it’s time to give them something that could save them.
1. Do not have a conflicting social media presence
It is God’s will for us to live a life where our message of the gospel is not compromised due to our own through and actions. If you say who you are who you say you are, make it consistent.
2. You don’t have to act as if life is perfect in social media
Be transparent. Remember that you want to connect. As a human being, life is not always perfect and pleasant. Share how people can overcome tests and trials through the word of God as you experienced in your life.
3. Use your status updates as a way of identifying yourself as a Christian in front of your friends
Don’t use Facebook for rants or venting out your exasperations. Post verses that have spoken to you during your devotional times, quotes from other godly people, and other spiritual insights that the Lord gives you from time to time. Regular, subtle status updates can go a long way in drawing your friends toward God.
4. Connect with your friends by commenting on their pictures and status updates
When you like a picture or status update of one of your friends on Facebook, it communicates a subtle message that you care about them. These work well because they are light touches. Occasionally noticing their updates can help you to begin connecting at a deeper level.
5. Maintain balance with your posts by continuing the personal side of Facebook along with your ministry focus
Facebook is powerful because it is relational. If you use it merely for self-promotion, you will actually begin to alienate your friends. So work to maintain a balance here. Go ahead and post a picture of that incredible food or the video of that meaningful activity you had. But then be sure to post some occasional scripture verses and the Gospel onto your timeline from time to time.
Trust that God wants people to come to Him to save them.
Understand that the harvest is plentiful but the workers are few.
Trust that God leads His people to opportunities and we are responsible for making the most of these opportunities to share the gospel.
Don’t be ashamed of the Gospel; be faithful in you daily life. Talk about God in your daily life in whatever media platforms you use.