In college, the campus ministry I was with would venture out door to door in neighborhoods to share the gospel. We were to witness to people we met and tell them about the gospel. I often ran into an issue where the person or people we would greet would not be ready for company, let alone strangers wanting to share the gospel.
Usually, the only people witnessing to them were from other religions or the only contact they had with “religious people” were too pushy or judgmental. I always felt awkward, but I attributed it to my own nerves and being outside of my comfort zone.
In the midst of one summer semester, my grandfather passed. It wasn’t sudden, he’d been battling cancer since I was in high school. This hit hard though and I felt like I needed to go home and be with family, especially my father who was taking it very hard.
We’d decided that our family would host lunch after the funeral. People from my parents’ Sunday School class prepared food for us and my mother told us all to not eat anything because there may not be enough food. They would feed us after the dinner was over. We prayed that there would be enough food to feed everyone.
It was there and then I witnessed a miracle. None of us expected the food to last the number of family members who showed up to eat. We watched, expecting to have to purchase more food for the number of people eating. We prayed as we waited and saw more and more people fill plates to the brim, and we saw cousins fill plates to take with them for later.
None of us expected any food left for my parents and siblings. Yet, not only was there enough, there was enough for us to have leftovers as well. What we witnessed is also recounted in Matthew 14:13-21:
When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place. Hearing of this, the crowds followed him on foot from the towns. 14 When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.
As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”
Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”
“We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.
“Bring them here to me,” he said. And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.
Granted, there wasn’t 5,000 at my parents’ house, but there were more there than the food should have fed. There was way more than enough that if everyone there had taken leftovers, my family shouldn’t have had a scrap of food to eat. There absolutely should not have been enough for us to have leftovers, but we did.
I tell everyone I can that story. I truly witnessed a miracle, I believe that. I believe this story was more personal and one I can relate with more feeling and emotion than I can the story in Matthew, because I experienced it.
It’s not a substitute for the Biblical story, but it was proof to me that the Biblical story happened. I feel compelled to relate it because God allowed me to witness it. I believe that God wants us to share our experience when sharing our faith, not just some words written on a page passed down for 2000 years, as some see The Bible. As a matter of fact, the more I read about Jesus, the more I realize he told stories and related to people more often than he quoted scripture. When he did quote scripture, it was to emphasize a point to those who knew the commandments.
Our personal experiences are the stories God gives us to minister to others. Some are amazing stories of triumph, while others are heartbreaking tales of survival. Some are straightforward and uneventful, while others are full of action and suspense. Whatever your story is, let people know, for by sharing experiences, we strengthen the faith and witness of every follower of Christ.