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Share your testimony to praise God and bless others, Cloud urges

GLORIETA, N.M. (BP)–“God doesn’t deliver us for us to keep quiet and not tell anybody,” Olivia Cloud believes.

Cloud, a freelance writer and senior editor at R H. Boyd Publishers of Nashville, Tenn., led daily conferences during Black Church Leadership Week, July 2-6, at LifeWay Glorieta Conference Center, Glorieta, N.M.

In a session, Testify! Testimonies of the Faithful, she challenged Christians to share their experiences of salvation and ways God has helped them in difficult circumstances. The session also is the title of a book by Cloud released in 2000 by MEGA Corp.

“What is your story?” Cloud asked. “All of us have events in our lives where we can say if it weren’t for the Lord we wouldn’t have made it through.”

In an interview, she said she was drawn to the importance of Christian testimonies because “God has done so many wonderful things in my life and given me opportunities to testify by word and by action of what he has done.”

She cited as a biblical basis John 4:29 when the woman at the well left Jesus after her salvation and immediately returned to her town to tell others what had happened. She took this action even though she was known by the town’s residents as a person of low morals.

To Cloud, this example illustrates that “even the ‘sticky’ kinds of subjects need to be told.”

“Sometimes Christians don’t want to tell how God has changed their lives,” she said. “But when new believers see Christian leaders practicing their faith, they think the leaders have always been that way.”

In her book, Cloud tells the stories of 18 people in the Bible, including some lesser-known figures such as Gideon, the blind man healed by Jesus and Mephibosheth, the disabled son of Jonathan.

Gideon “is one of my favorite stories,” she said. “We tend to think of strength in numbers, but God took Gideon’s army away from him to show Gideon what he (God) could do.”

With the blind man, Cloud said he didn’t feel he had to try to answer every question he was being asked. Instead, he offered the simple testimony that once he had been blind, but after encountering Jesus he could see.

David took Mephibosheth into his home after the death of Jonathan and cared for him as if he were his own son. This story, in Cloud’s opinion, shows “how different one person’s life can be because of another.”

She acknowledged that she used her imagination to fill in parts of the stories not addressed in the Bible.

“This has been done with the hope that it will enable readers more readily to identify with the experiences of these faithful witnesses to the power of God,” Cloud wrote in the introduction of the book. ” In those cases where liberties have been taken, they certainly are not out of the range of possibility of human feelings and emotions.”

In conducting research for the book, she said she selected characters and situations relevant to people today.

“I can relate to something in every story,” Cloud said. “These stories reaffirm my own story and give me hope in areas where I’m still struggling.”

God wants Christians to share their testimonies, she said, because he “wants us to remember what he’s done for us.”

“It’s really easy for us to start giving ourselves credit for what God did for us. But when we re-tell our story, we can see God did it, and give him praise,” Cloud emphasized.

When others hear a Christian’s testimony, that person “never knows how it will touch someone. The world needs to know what a mighty God we serve.”

Approximately 1,400 people attended Black Church Leadership Week. The conference was sponsored by five Southern Baptist Convention entities — LifeWay Christian Resources, North American Mission Board, International Mission Board, Woman’s Missionary Union and Annuity Board.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: SHARING.

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  • Linda Lawson