We Have a Story to Share!

hannah young preacherYesterday, I had the honor of presenting at the INUMC Festival of Young Preachers. The theme of the event was “Share Your Story.” I hope this message inspires you to share YOUR story! We all have a story to share. 

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Acts 1:8

A few years ago, I found myself sitting in the audience, where you are now. I remember listening to everyone who stood here, with wide eyes, and inspiration burning in my heart. They were amazing storytellers! And I wanted to be just like them… and now, here I am! It is so good to be here!

I was excited to learn that the theme of this festival is “share your story” because I believe that God has given us all a story to share… and I know that he equips us to be great storytellers.

To me, great storytellers are people who can somehow make things incredibly REAL and ENGAGING for their audience, by inviting you to take a step into their story with them, and somehow make it your own.

Really great storytellers know that the key to continuing the story, even after the last chapter is finished, is to invite people to be a part of it… they give us a role to play… a job to do… a thought to ponder… a mission to accomplish.

They use their story to change things.
To make an impact on the reader and the world.
They use their story to make more stories…
Through you, and me, and everyone we encounter.

Usually these storytellers bring life to a concept that is hard to grasp. They make even the most crazy ideas seem possible… Because they have seen the impossible happen. Their lives have been impacted by the Greatest Storymaker— GOD

Recently, I had a chance to meet with an amazing storyteller: Mike Pierce, founder of Clean Water in Africa. He came to my home to thank me for the work I have been doing to raise funds and awareness for clean water in Burkina Faso. I was truly honored that he would make a special trip to my home to spend time with me. I fully expected him to talk about the mission of Clean Water in Africa, and he did… but the story about how the mission formed was full of other stories about how God had worked miracles in his life.

One of his stories included a time when he was asked to pray out loud for the first time. He was afraid he wouldn’t have the right words. He tried to get out of it! But he could not escape the job God was calling him to do… So, he joined 3 other men in a small prayer chapel… and each of them took turns praying. When it was his turn, he found that God had given him just the right words to pray… again and again. He was astounded! It was the first time he really experienced the work of the Holy Spirit in his life. And he believed with excitement that, in his words, “this Holy Spirit stuff is real.” And even though it was many years ago, he was still moved to tears as he shared his story… And, seeing this man talk about his faith journey impacted me in ways I didn’t expect.

His story reaffirmed that God empowers ordinary people to do his great work… even when it seems impossible!

Since that day, I have been thinking about the power our stories have to help people connect with God to form their own personal story. As people who have experienced the love and power of God in our lives, our role is to tell His story – our story – with passion and excitement – to all who will listen.

Our stories make God real to those who don’t know him yet… or to those who doubt He can work in and through our lives… and for those that need encouragement to do some crazy big thing God is calling them to do.  When we honestly and openly and excitedly share how he has worked in our lives – in big and small ways – people see that He is still alive— and He still works miracles— and He still loves!

I recently saw this quote on facebook…

“When we are open and giving of our light, we create an endless reflection that outlives our human existence (Gary Friedman)”

God has given each of us a beautiful light to share with the world…

He has made us His great storytellers…

Listen to these words Jesus spoke to his followers before he went up to Heaven —

Acts 1:8
“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

We know those first Christians did tell people everywhere, with the help of the Holy Spirit— and it changed the world around them in powerful ways. And I am so thankful for their bravery and perseverance because they helped share a story that impacts my life today.

I believe we have to get serious about sharing our story – God’s story – with everyone we can… because I believe there are a lot of people who are desperately searching to know that God is still at work, making stories today.. in 2015…

We all have a story that was perfectly made and formed by our Great Storymaker — and when we share that story, we invite others to be part of it… and their faith is strengthened… and lives are changed.

And, just like a tree that sends out seeds, that make more trees to make more seeds…

They share the story, too, and change even more lives…

And that’s how the Kingdom grows.

One story at a time…
one life at a time…

Until Jesus comes again to begin a new chapter…

Who will you share your story with?
How will you invite them into a relationship with our Great Storyteller God?

I HAVE A DREAM (Of A Much Better World)

I HAVE A DREAM (Of A Much Better World)

When I fall asleep at night, I often find myself suddenly in an amazing world. A world where anger and hatred are overpowered by love. A place filled with compassion and mercy, and people who truly show that they are made in the image of God. And when someone is mourning, the people around them provide comfort and sympathy. When someone is rejoicing, their neighbors rejoice with them. This is a world that lacks loneliness, depression, torment and unfair judgment. Would you believe me if I told you that this Heaven on Earth is achievable? I am convinced that if every Jesus Follower made it their mission to show God’s love to others, we would have a much better world to live in.

When most of us think about “mission,” we think about mission trips, or going somewhere to complete a task for someone else’s benefit. While week-long mission trips and projects are good, I wonder what would happen if we made every day a mission trip. When Jesus told us to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19), he called his followers to live lives of commitment, working daily to reach new people for him every day. This must have taken intentional planning of each day and a lifestyle of mission! So, when we think of mission as a project, we aren’t living the lives Jesus called us to live when he told us to “GO and MAKE disciples.”

Too often do we overlook someone who is in need of not only physical care, but also spiritual care. The reasons for this range from being too tired, too busy, too scared, etc. But most of the time, we are simply oblivious to the people that God places around us. We have forgotten that being a disciple of Jesus requires us to make more disciples by loving, caring for, helping, serving and TALKING TO people everywhere we go. I think we can do way better than we have been and I KNOW that if we do, this world will change right before our eyes in a powerful, totally cool, God-pleasing way!

For the next 30 days, I invite you to view your schools, workplaces, families, grocery stores, bus stops, neighborhoods, sports practices, and anywhere else you may go – even your churches – as a mission field, and allow God to use you to reach, love and serve on a daily basis. I invite you to take Jesus’s words seriously and really put some action and intention into GOING and MAKING disciples.

Here are some examples of how to do so. This is just a START! I want to hear how you will reach out to people every day. Let’s use #SmallStepsBigImpact to tell our stories on social media!

  • Start a Bible study in your school or neighborhood! Your friends and neighbors want to know more about who Jesus is, and they would love to talk about that in a comfortable setting. Start with the basics and make it fun! Start with a small group and watch the impact grow!
  • Lend a hand! If your neighbor is working on his car, offer to help. If your friend struggles with a school subject that you are good at, offer to tutor them. If there is a kid at school who doesn’t fit in, be their friend. When a person you know is going through hard times in their life, don’t simply say “Good luck with that.” Instead say “How can I pray with you?” or “How can I help?” and work hard to help them in their time of need. When they ask why you’re helping, tell them because Jesus told you to (or something like that)! Small efforts to lend a hand in Jesus’s name make a big impact because people will see him working through your life. That makes Jesus real to people who don’t know him!  These small tasks will make a big impression!
  • Show love to those who treat you unfairly. They will definitely notice your response! If you have a chance to talk with that person, help them to know more about you and let them know you want to know more about them. This small effort will make a big impact.
  • Be kind and patient when someone is frustrating you. Pray for that person and reach out to them to try to understand them better. Replace your everyday irritations with a smile. Your smile may be the only one people see today! This small step to resolve frustrations will have a big impact on you AND the other person.
  • Value people and treat everyone like they are important – even and especially people who are different than you. After all, isn’t every human a child of God? When someone talks to you, look at them. Put your phone away during a conversation. Give them your undivided attention and thank them for their time. Tell them that they matter to you and God!  This small gesture of kindness will make a big difference in someone’s life!
  • Be REAL! The best way to bring people to God, is to simply radiate Christ throughout your entire being. This means walking, talking, living, and loving like Him. This is no small task but it is one of the most important things you can do to make a big difference!

When you take the steps to do these things, not only will you impact a life, but also the entire world! Just imagine what would happen if every Christian did this? Would we live in that beautiful world that I know is possible? Would everyone’s lives be touched by God? There’s only one way to find out!

Keep in touch! Please let me know you’ve accepted this challenge and let’s use #SmallStepsBigImpact to tell our stories on social media!

I CAN’T WAIT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

-Hannah

PS: Remember, we aren’t doing this alone! We have God and each other!

Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore GO and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:18-20