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DEL CITY, Okla. (BP)--It was mealtime at the annual family reunion and, this year, the entire family was present for the traditional time of fellowship, reminiscing ... and food. Little did they know that they were in store for one of the most moving and memorable moments in their lives. Their father stood awkwardly at the head of the table, cleared his throat and asked for their attention.
"You know," he began, "I have always said there are two things I will not discuss -- religion and politics. And, about religion, I have always said that it is a personal matter. Well, I still believe that religion is personal. But lately I have come to understand that it was never meant to be private.
"On this sheet of paper," he continued, "I have written the testimony of my faith in Christ. I will admit that, until recently, I didn't have a testimony. That's why I didn't want to discuss it. But, a few days ago, all that changed and I want you to know about it. I'm a little new at this, so if you don't mind, I'd just like to read this to you."
A hush fell over the room as the father humbly read his testimony to his family. The father stumbled on through the brief statement of his faith in Christ. When he looked up he was amazed at what was happening. His sons had turned their faces toward the wall to hide the tears that were welling up in their eyes. His wife and daughters dabbed the tears that were now flowing down their cheeks. His grandchildren were looking curiously at their parents to determine just what was happening.
Little did that father know that he was setting in motion a series of events that would ultimately see all his family members come to Christ. This would be his legacy of faith that would be passed down for generations to come. And little did the family or the father know that they would all gather again only a few weeks later. And this time it would be at a graveside where his earthly remains would be deposited, along with the clear assurance that he was with God.
Have you shared your faith with your family? On more than one occasion, grief-stricken children have stood at the casket of a father asking, "Pastor, do you believe my dad will be in heaven?" The pastor, of course, will try to comfort them, but he cannot give them the assurance they so desperately need. After all, the Scripture clearly states that one of the evidences of genuine salvation is a willingness to testify to that fact. The psalmist exclaimed, "... let the redeemed of the Lord say so" (Psalm 107:2).
Has your family heard your testimony of faith in Christ? In Africa they say, "When an old man dies, library is burned." One day it will be impossible for your friends and family members to access all that is stored up in the library of your heart. That is why it is imperative for you to share with them now the simple story of your conversion. A legacy of faith in Christ is the most important thing you can leave with them. So, tell them "your story." And, while you're at it, ask them about theirs.
This article is excerpted from the book, "In Their Own Words," by Tom Elliff and Robert Witty, to be released in June 2003 by Broadman & Holman Publishers. Elliff is pastor of First Southern Baptist Church in Del City, Okla., and chairman of the Southern Baptist Council on Family Life which, in conjunction with the SBC Pastors' Conference and LifeWay Christian Resources, is inviting Southern Baptists to the SBC's first-ever Kingdom Family Rally June 16
in Phoenix, Ariz.