Let me testify.
I grew up in small, organic faith communities in western Canada. We were a misfit crew, complete with the requisite charismatic tambourines and occasional renewal movement missteps. Our church services looked more like a youth group than grown-up high church. We were all a bit suspicious of authority, “smells and bells,” and The Establishment, we liked being outsiders, we met in homes, we wrote ‘yes, Lord’ in the margins of our Bibles, and when we baptized, it was all-in, barely after May long weekend into cold lake water.
And we had Testimony Time.
Do you remember that? How we used to get up in church and tell our stories to each other?
Sometimes it was awful. Someone would ramble on and on and on, enjoying the sound of their own voice, kids would fidget, someone would be inappropriately detailed leading to a few eyebrows raised to the ceiling, the few that fancied themselves as theologians would have near-heart-attacks over incorrect doctrine. There were times when a story was told, half-finished, still open-ended, no clear resolution.
But we told our stories to each other.
Here, listen, God met us once, twice, a third time, over and over. One time, in a bathroom, she swears God sobered her up after a binge, she promised she’d live her life for him forever, right then and there. One time, he had migraines every day for years and God healed him, bless God, not a migraine for six months now. Oh, and he was so afraid, so riddled with anxiety, he couldn’t step foot out of his house but now he’s free, he’s free, he’s free, he sings the word out loud and someone shouts out, “YES LORD, FREE!” in the back. She’s prayed and prayed for her mama to stop drinking, she is finally going to AA but can we all pray, please? Pray for her mum to really stop with the booze this time, it’s been so hard. It is so hard. Living is so hard.