During high school, I attended only one church-related retreat. I had a great time getting to know the other kids and we had a fun and engaging speaker. What I remember most, however, was the panel of young adults who shared their conversion experiences. Each of these young people grew up Orthodox and yet they each told a compelling story about how and when they made the Faith their own; they were Orthodox by choice. I respected them and as I continued on my own journey I often thought about them; they became my role models.
Personal testimonies, like the lives of Saints, show us the way through example. Knowing that others have had similar experiences gives us courage and shows us who to ask for help when we need it. Sharing our stories also brings us closer to one another, strengthening the bonds of community.
For these reasons, we encourage you to think about ways to share journeys in your community.Here are a few ideas to get you started:
- Challenge the members of the Missions & Evangelism Ministry to create a 3-minute personal testimony or “elevator speech” to answer the question, “Why am I an Orthodox Christian?” Begin each meeting with a different member sharing their story.
- Ask parishioners to write out their journey in 800-1000 words. Enlist a volunteer to edit and format these for publication. Every month feature a unique parishioner story (with photo!) in the monthly newsletter or distribute via the e-mail listserv.
- Make a display or bulletin board of collected written journeys for the annual festival or other open house type events.
- Dedicate 5-min at the beginning of each Parish Council or other parish meeting to allow a PC member or parishioner to share about their Orthodox experience.
- Invite members of the community to visit the middle and high school Sunday School classes to share their journey.
- Make a video compilation featuring various parishioners, such as the excellent example, “I am an Orthodox Christian” video on the website of St. Anna Greek Orthodox Church in Roseville, California.
Our small stories make a big impact on the lives of others. You, the reader, can begin today by reflecting on this question, “Why am I an Orthodox Christian?” When the time is right, your story will be ready.