By Sherry Schumann
Grandparents love to shop for their grandchildren. While there’s nothing wrong with purchasing strollers or cribs, dance shoes or soccer balls, the greatest gift that we can give our children can’t be purchased online or picked up at a big-box store. It won’t break, corrode, deteriorate, fray or rot. It costs nothing, except time and commitment on our part. The greatest gift is a legacy of faith.
There are three ways to pass a faith legacy: sharing our testimonies, giving the spoken blessings and praying daily. In this article, we will talk about what it means to share our testimony.
What is Our Testimony?
According to the first letter of John, “Whoever believes in the Son of God has the testimony within him” (I John 5:10). This testimony is Jesus within us. It includes our witness of the Gospel Message or the Good News of Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension. It also includes our family heritage, salvation stories and faith journey.
Author Ken Canfield writes, “Everyone’s life is a story. Each of us has received incredible blessing and overcome daunting obstacles.” It is a story that was, is and will continue to be written, edited and published by God. It’s a story meant to be shared with future generations.
Whey Do We Share Our Testimony?
We share our testimonies for the following reasons:
- Scripture warns us not to hide our testimonies from our grandchildren but to “tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and His might and the wonders that He has done” (Psalm 78:4-8).
- If we don’t tell them our faith stories, they will become “a stubborn and rebellious generation” (Psalm 78:8).
Can you imagine the impressive stories, which Joshua told his descendants? Stories about spying on the inhabitants of Canaan, watching the walls of Jericho fall and stepping from the desert into the Promised Land. Tragically, these stories were never passed down. After Joshua’s children “had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the LORD nor what He had done for Israel. Then the Israelites did evil in the eyes of the LORD and served the Baals” (Judges 2:10-11).
- We have a responsibility and the desire to present our grandchildren “mature in Christ” (Colossians 1:28) when we reach heaven’s gates.
Where Do We Share Our Testimony?
Let’s turn in our Bibles to the first chapter of Acts where we find our Risen Lord. giving instructions to His disciples. “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, to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:9). These instructions weren’t intended only for the disciples; they are intended for us, as well.
Christ calls us to be witnesses in Jerusalem and in Judea and Samaria, to the ends of the earth. This includes New York City, Boise, Dallas, Havana, Cape Town, Mumbai, Cebu and wherever our families live.
Whether we are local or long-distance grandparents, estranged or charged with the responsibility of raising our grandchildren, we are called to share Jesus to the best of our ability with the generations coming after us.
When Do We Share Our Testimony?
Are you familiar with Moses’ directive to talk about God’s commandments and decrees “when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up” (Deuteronomy 6:7)? There wasn’t anything special about these activities; they were part of the Israelites daily routine.
If Moses had been talking with grandparents living in the twenty-first century, he would have told us to talk about the Lord when we are sitting at the kitchen table, standing at a soccer match, driving down the road, talking via FaceTime, sending a text message or simply “doing life” with our grandchildren.
What are Different Ways to Share Our Testimony?
We’ll examine the four parts of our testimonies—Gospel Message, family heritage, salvation story and faith journey—separately.
The holidays provide the perfect time for us to teach our grandchildren about Jesus’ birth, death and resurrection. For example, we can encourage our grandchildren to learn and tell the Christmas story in their words, using an inexpensive Nativity scene or creating their own. We also can plan a baby shower for Mary or a birthday party for Jesus, complete with a homemade cake.
“Resurrection eggs” are an excellent tool for teaching about Holy Week, Good Friday and Easter. While these plastic eggs can be purchased online, I recommend making homemade ones. (See below.) One of my family’s favorite Easter traditions is enjoying yummy resurrection buns and talking about the significance of the empty tomb. (See below).
Everyone wants a connection or sense of belonging; therefore, it’s important for us to share stories about our family heritage. Our grandchildren need to know about our parents and grandparents, childhood home, accidents and illnesses, education, experiences, livelihood and family’s faith traditions. They also need to what it was like growing up without cell phones and computers, why we got married, what it was like being a parent to their mothers and fathers and why being a grandparent is so special. Anecdotal stories are a wonderful way to convey this information.
Our grandchildren often catch us off-guard with their questions about God. Not only do they surprise us; they only give us a narrow window of opportunity to answer questions like, “Is Jesus real?” before they dart to another topic.
In her book, Pass the Legacy, Cathy Jacobs recommends getting prepared now. She suggests considering the following questions and jotting down a one-paragraph answer for each:
- What was your life like before you came to know Christ?
- What happened to change your life?
- How is your life different now?
(For those of you who grew up in the church, you may want to answer describe the moment Jesus became real to you.) These three paragraphs form the “bare-bones” version of your salvation story. I suggest that you practice telling this story to another grandparent and listening as they practice theirs.
Our faith journey includes stories of answered prayer, lessons learned, Godly-coincidences and examples of God’s mighty hand working in our lives. A great exercise to help us remember these stories is to create a timeline of our spiritual journey, using the following steps:
- Draw a horizontal line across a blank sheet of paper.
- Place a dot on the far-left corner of the line and write “God knew me before He made the world.”
- Move one inch to the right of the first dot. Place another dot and write Birth, plus the date and year you were born.
- Placed a dot on the far-right corner and write “Eternity.”
- Proceed to fill in your spiritual timeline, placing a mark to represent times when you have experienced transitions and/or transformations. Be sure to include the date or year and place the marks relative in time to each other. Don’t forget to include things like your baptism, first job, wedding day, birth of your children and any moments closest to Christ.
There are numerous ways to record and share these memories with your loved ones. I recommend the following:
- Write a spiritual memoir for a specific period of your life. (There is a difference between an autobiography and a memoir. An autobiography includes everything on your spiritual timeline, whereas a memoir only includes a portion of the timeline or specific event.)
- Keep a prayer journal. Include your requests, the answers you receive and dates for each.
- Create “Ebenezers” by gathering stones, shells or other collectable items, which you can write on with marker. For every answered prayer or wondrous work of God, write a word or Scripture verse, which will remind you of this specific event, on one of the stones. Showcase your Ebenezers in a glass vase and use them to share your faith stories with your grandchildren.
- Create a Blessings Jar filled with thank-you notes to God.
How Do We Share Our Testimony?
We share our testimonies respectfully and sensitively, being aware of our grandchildren’s physical, emotional and spiritual maturity. We also share with Holy Spirit boldness, knowing that God doesn’t call us to be spiritual lawyers, responsible for proving that Jesus is Savior and Lord. He simply asks us to be witnesses, to tell our God-story, and leave the results to Him.
Directions: Number plastic eggs 1-12. Add the following objects to each egg.
- Egg #1: Oyster cracker (or bread) – Matthew 26:26
- Egg #2: Silver coins – Matthew 26:14-16
- Egg #3: Purple cloth – Matthew 27:28
- Egg #4: Thorns – Matthew 27:29
- Egg #5: Rope – Mark 15:15
- Egg #6: Cross – John 19:16-17
- Egg #7: Nail – John 19:18
- Egg #8: Sign that says, “This is the king of the Jews.” – Luke 23:38
- Egg #9: Sponge (with vinegar) – Matthew 27:48
- Egg #10: Cloves or spices – Luke 23:5-6
- Egg #11: Rock – Matthew 27:59-60
- Egg #12: EMPTY! – Matthew 28:55-56
Recipe for Resurrection Rolls
- Allow a package of frozen or homemade yeast rolls to rise overnight (Holy Saturday).
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees the next morning (Easter).
- Wrap each roll around one large marshmallow.
- Dip the wrapped roll into melted butter
- Roll in cinnamon and sugar, coating well.
- Place on a greased cookie sheet.
- Bake in the oven until the marshmallows have evaporated, and the rolls have browned.
- When the rolls have cooled, give one to each of your grandchildren. Examine the hole left by the evaporated marshmallow, which represents the empty tomb. Talk about the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection.