Every Christian is an ordinary person with an extraordinary story. That's the theme behind CT Magazine's long-running Testimony section. It's also a big part of the reason that section resonates with so many readers. A fan-favorite, we often receive glowing feedback from those who resonated strongly with particular testimonies. One such reader is Ellen Tuthill, who expressed in an email that the Testimony section had a significant impact on her spiritual life and ministry.
We thought we'd take the opportunity to allow a Testimony reader to share their own testimony and hear more about how CT's esteemed column has helped her in her own spiritual progress.
The CT testimony that felt most similar to my own story was Rosalind Picard's. Like Picard, I lived much of my life believing I was vastly superior to born-again Christians, whom I saw as weak and closed-minded. I had to win at everything, and be the smartest person in the room. I didn't love people. I only judged them.
I grew up hearing that Jesus was just a really nice socialist reformer-but probably not God. I was raised by brilliant, wonderful parents who resented the conservative environment they came out of in Dallas and appreciated the hippy-dippy culture in Austin. I was taught that church was primarily about politics, great music, and community.
I came to associate progressive politics with Christianity. Because I was part of a progressive church that focused on the social gospel, I did lots of work projects to help the poor. I even served as the president of the youth group. But not once in 18 years did I hear that I was a sinner, or that Jesus could save me. Those ideas were considered awkward, closed-minded, and negative.
I received a full academic scholarship to Southern Methodist University, where I became even more driven, perfectionistic, and judgmental. I was quite successful by the world's standards. Just before my senior year, I met a Baptist boy at a secular collegiate conference who had the gall to explain that I was, in fact, a sinner. Everything else flowed from that one truth, and after several hours of illuminating the gospel and graciously revealing my sin, this young man led me to Christ next to the resort's swimming pool. I have never been the same.
Through the first decade after being born again, I read constantly from The Economist and Christianity Today. Both are packed with facts, stories, and information, something I specifically craved as a new mom, whose world felt small. Both feature exceptional writing and greater international coverage than I find elsewhere. But CT's Testimony section is unique. I nearly always cry when I read it. I see my story in most Testimonies I read: one of brokenness, depravity, and rescue.
I read the testimony of a woman who left her lesbian lifestyle for the joy of the gospel and realized my friends with the same hindrance were not beyond His reach. When I was battling fear about my husband being out of town, I read Virginia Prodan's story, and realized that even if my home is broken into, it could be a divine appointment to speak to the intruder about Christ. When I read about Mitali Perkins, I felt so affirmed. Art had moved her towards Christ, a realization that reinvigorated my investment in art history outreach in the public school.
For the last five years, I've gathered a team of Christians from my church to write a summer series for women and their teen daughters in different homes. We have as many as 50 attend each night: Muslims, Hindus, Jews, atheists, and Christians. We discuss a range of topics, from body image and beauty, to friendship, to the Sermon on the Mount.
My husband and I also started a couple's ministry in our neighborhood. At one point there were 19 couples coming to work on their marriages every week across multiple homes. Many of those same couples began attending church, or even came to Christ, through this marriage ministry. Many face significant challenges, including adultery, alcoholism, and lack of intimacy. But CT's testimonies always seem to illustrate the gospel in the ways my friends need to hear at the time. I often copy and print out testimonies for friends and Bible students at church or in my neighborhood.
Once, I gave a talk on "Beauty, Body Image, and the Bible" at a mother/teen daughter retreat at my church. I wanted them to understand that even though body-shaming and self-loathing is practically a national pastime for many women, God can use our bodies for glorious purposes. I shared CT's 2018 testimony from Kim Phuc Phan Thi: her background, horrible burns, and conversion, from the article, as well as the photo from the 70s.
The moms in the room were familiar with the famous photo, but the teens were not. They gasped. Then I showed a recent photo of her scars, and how her imperfect body and those burns actually led her to Christ, and that she now shows her scars proudly, and serves the whole planet as a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. I think the teens (and their middle aged moms, of which I am one) were forced to recognize that their own bodies have value, no matter how they look, but are temporary, and that our physical flaws are actually a gift from God. And they would never have had those visuals or that story if I hadn't learned about Kim Phuc in CT.
God gave us our intellectual gifts for a reason, and until we were humbled, we cannot use them well.
As Rosalind points out,
"I once thought I was too smart to believe in God. Now I know I was an arrogant fool who snubbed the greatest Mind in the cosmos—the Author of all science, mathematics, art, and everything else there is to know. Today I walk humbly, having received the most undeserved grace. I walk with joy, alongside the most amazing Companion anyone could ask for, filled with desire to keep learning and exploring."