I remember very clearly the first time I ever shared part of my testimony in public. I was totally terrified. With a group of about 9 other adults and 3 of their teenagers, I was on a missions trip at an orphanage in the Philippines. We were all so grateful to God to be there, halfway around the world, watching Him minister His love and acceptance to these beautiful kiddos. The week had been full of excursions to the beach, fun outings to the local “McDonalds” type fast food restaurant, and bike rides around the city. We also ran a Vacation Bible School during the day where the children got to hear all about Jesus and learn lots of fun VBS songs. I had gotten really close to many of the girls and boys throughout the week, and my heart was already heavy with the thought of having to leave for the return trip back to the States.
On our last night there, our group leader asked me to share my testimony of healing from the effects of sexual abuse. She had heard me share it in our small group at church and felt like it would be helpful and encouraging for some of the older boys and girls at the orphanage to hear. At first I refused out of fear and embarrassment. But then the Orphanage Director explained to me that many of the kids in their care had been molested by family members and that my story might give them hope for a better future and also help them see that there is healing available through Jesus.
So I prayed and really felt the Lord encouraging me to be brave and tell my story. I walked into a room where they had gathered about 30 teenagers, boys and girls, sitting cross-legged on the floor. With trembling hands, and a very shaky voice, I began to tell how I had been molested by an adult relative at a young age. I told how it had been kept locked up like a dark secret in my family. I spoke of the damage it caused in my life, in my relationships, and in the choices I had made as an adult. The shame and guilt I carried weighed me down for over 25 years until one day when Jesus set me free. I explained to them that they could be free too, that they could give all their pain to Jesus and let Him speak His Truth and healing words to them also. I read Jeremiah 29:11 out loud to them. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Then I closed with a prayer over them for their healing. Walking away I felt certain that my story hadn’t made much of a difference. I felt insecure and a bit embarrassed for baring my soul. But then one of the Orphanage School teachers came up to me outside and wrapped her arms around me in a tight, reassuring bear hug. She said, “ Karla, you may never see the fruit of what you did here tonight. But I know these kids and I know their stories. And by you being so brave and sharing your story, they can see that there is a hope and future for them too. So don’t be discouraged. God did a mighty work here tonight!” I was so grateful for the kind words of encouragement. I decided right then and there that whether the Lord ever let me see the fruit or not, I was going to be brave and obedient and tell my story whenever He asked me to.
Later that night one of the moms of a teen on our Missions team asked me if she could speak to me in private. She went on to explain to me that after hearing my story, her teenager daughter admitted to being sexually abused by an older neighbor boy. Although shocked and saddened for her daughter, she was grateful to know the truth. She thanked me for being so vulnerable and transparent and asked me if I would meet and pray with her daughter. I quickly agreed and met her daughter for prayer early the next morning before our team headed to the airport. The young girl told me how she had kept the secret for several years and that the shame and guilt had led her to turn inward and become very isolated and shy. I could feel the heaviness on her like a cloak. The Lord gave me such clear words of healing and freedom for her as I prayed over her that morning. Even before we finished praying she began saying “ I feel free! I feel light and so happy!” The Holy Spirit did an instant work of healing in her heart. It was truly an amazing transformation to see right before our eyes! Her mother was crying tears of joy – along with the rest of us :). As they left to go gather their things for the trip back home to the States, I heard the Lord whisper softly in my heart. “Little one, you may have come halfway around the world to share your healing with a group of strangers that truly needed to hear it. But there was also one who traveled here with you that needed to hear it. She would not have been set free this morning if you had not been vulnerable and shared your story last night. I Am Faithful.”
So friend, I encourage you to be brave, be vulnerable, let His light and truth SHINE through you. Whatever He has Healed you of, whatever lies He has broken off of you, and whatever He has set you free from, that is part of your testimony. Be brave and share it when He leads you to. Tell your story. Set a captive free. And when you do, I promise you He will meet you there. And sometimes, He will even let you see the fruit :).
“Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name;
make known among the nations what he has done.
Sing to him, sing praise to him;
tell of all his wonderful acts.” Psalms 105:1-2 NIV
Love and Hugs,