It's been a while since my last update due to a vacation in Arizona, so, I'll jump right into the third chapter of "To the Jew First".
The third chapter is entitled “The Personal Testimony” and deals with how to set up a personal testimony that can help jump start a conversation. The first guideline that Mitch Triestman gives for the personal testimony is that it should be shared as soon as possible. He says that when he starts a relationship with a Jewish person, they almost immediately recognize him as Jewish, that being said, he knows that he needs to set up an honest report with them, because they may proceed with him as if he were not yet Christian which can lead to feelings of deception or, just as negatively, feelings of embarrassment when the Jewish person recalls saying something, or behaving in a way that may not be acceptable to a Christian. This is the same with anyone who seeks to evangelize at all, but particularly with the Jews who should be aware of the difference early so as to not surprise them which would risk offending them.
The next rules are how to set up the testimony. The first rule is that it must be brief. No one wants to sit around and listen to several minutes of testimony. Triestman recalls a time when he was looking for a religious book strore in New Jersey and couldn’t find it. He pulled up to a red light next to a Chasidic man and asked him for directions. When the man seemed puzzled at the appearance of the Triestman, who was clean shaven and not wearing a skull cap, Triesman managed to share his testimony, and get directions. This kind of Testimony can be exceedingly valuable. Making the testimony shareable in less than a minute can help to avoid wearing on the patience of a non-believer and also will help keep the attention, and even whet the curiosity of, the person being evangelized.
The next rule is that the testimony must be good news. The greatest difference, in my opinion, between Christianity and any other religion is the total forgiveness and grace of Messiah. There is no need for worry or fear and all is well with our eternal lives, even if the here and now is hard. As it is written in Ephesians 2:8 “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” This rocks because it is a gift! Gifts are free, all that we need is the faith to receive it!. Don’t be gloomy within your testimony because you have received the gift!
The third rule states that the testimony should be easy to listen to. There is a lot of language that is exclusive to the Christian church. There are terms and vocabulary that could easily confuse the seeking or the lost. When preparing a brief, joyful testimony, be sure to use language that is applicable to the lowest common denominator, which would be the completely uninformed. Triestman also makes sure to point out several words that would detriment the testimony to a Jew. These are called the 4 offending c’s. They are as follows: Cross, Christ/Christian, Crucified and Convert. These words can bring up many negative associations or emotions in the Jews. The replacement words are Tree for Cross, Messiah for Christ, Sacrificed for Crucified and Repent for Convert. Making these changes can help to avoid the fearful or saddening responses that these words can relate, and also avoid confusion.
In light of this type of personal testimony, what do you think are the advantages of following these guidelines? Are there any other rules that you would suggest one follows to ensure the best possible results? And here’s the pop-quiz…What does the term Christ mean? This is a point of confusion for Christians as much as Jews and other non-believers. Let’s set the record straight!