Q: What’s your story?
Dr. Francis Collins has been the longtime head of the Human Genome Project and was appointed by the POTUS as the Director of the National Institutes of Health. He is one of America’s most accomplished and visible scientists. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from Yale University as well as an M.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. And he’s known in the realms of science as a “gene hunter” being one of the leaders in the world-wide project to map out human DNA, or what Collins calls “The Language of God.”
Dr. Collins is now an outspoken evangelical Christian and proclaims Jesus as Lord… but it wasn’t always that way.
He became a staunch atheist in college as he worked on his chemistry degree. He was apathetic towards simple-minded Christians and had no real beliefs about the deeper things of life. Mathematics and chemistry had all the answers he desired, and for him there was no need to move beyond.
But then he went to medical school, and was faced with an argument for faith that he had never before seen. Dr. Collins recalls that time and time again he encountered people suffering and dying from terrible agonizing diseases. It was painful to watch. It shook him to the depths of his soul, often leading him into reflections over his own mortality.
Strangely though, Collins noticed something interesting about one particular subgroup of his patients – Christians. He said that Christians were an anomaly, an enigma if you will. They absolutely blew him away, time and time again, with the manner in which they handled death. It was as if they had some secret supernatural opiate which provided them with peace, contentment, and happiness during the waning moments of their lives. It was their stories, lived and told before his very eyes, that were indisputable to Collins.
He said one day one of his patients, after telling him about her story, a story of God’s power carrying her through her heart problems, turned to him and said, “So what about you? What do you believe?”
And Collins recalls that he stuttered and stammered and felt the color rise in his face, and then finally said, “Well, I don’t think I believe in anything.”
And this small spark kindled a fire which has now consumed Dr. Collins life into a robust faith for God.
A brilliant doctor who had all the answers, stunned, shamed, and saved, all because of a simple story.
Life lesson: Your stories speak for themselves.
In our quest to take to the world the life-saving earth-shaking gospel of King Jesus, it is often our very own stories that can serve as our most valuable evangelistic tool. Here’s a few reasons why I think this is so:
(1) The Bible is a story. Plain and simple. And there is something inherently powerful about you placing yourself within this epic narrative. You do just that when you tell your stories.
(2) In an affluent and tolerant West where everyone has a degree (or two or three), an opinion, and a supposedly equal claim to truth, rational arguments often just don’t fly. People have a subset of answers and responses already set on auto-reply for your apologetic pointers, and no matter how wrong they may be, they’ve heard it all before. Nonetheless, your stories are unique and your testimony is a first-hand eyewitness account.
(3) The stories you tell are ultimately about life-change. It may be about you climbing out of depression, healing your marriage, and recovering from extreme illness. Or it may be about your small-group serving at a shelter, or your church cleaning up a neighborhood, or some missionaries starting an orphanage. No matter if it is you being transformed or others, your stories are centered on life-change. And positive humanitarian reform is something most people can happily support. Pretty much everybody wants to see their city become a better place. Pretty much everybody wants justice and benevolence for third-world children. Pretty much everybody can rejoice when an addict conquers a devastating addiction and renews their life and relationships.
(4) In connection with the previous comment, stories typically highlight love (which is what the church should stand for) rather than hypocrisy, judgment, or various other unfortunate labels we’ve gathered through the years.
(5) Every Christian can do it. You all have a story about how Jesus changed you. And hopefully you have stories about how he is using you to change others.
(6) A simple story speaks for itself. A changed life needs no argument. A new you is indisputable. The proof is in the pudding. And this type of life change is magnetic.