by Tiffany C. Chaney
The Bible records countless times crowds gathered around Jesus to learn from him and to be healed by him. How did they know to show up? They didn’t read a post about Jesus that went viral on social media. They likely showed up because someone they knew shared their story.
Mark 1:21-28 tells the story of Jesus, early in his ministry, teaching on the sabbath in Capernaum. He encounters a man with an unclean spirit, which Jesus banishes from the man. And then, verse 28 says, “At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.” Jesus’ fame spread because the people who had gathered that day in the synagogue shared the good news of the teacher, of the healer they had encountered. As a result, the people around them wanted to encounter Jesus too.
In Mark 5:24b-34, Jesus is on his way to save a young girl’s life. As the crowd pressed in on him, a woman who had been hemorrhaging for twelve years took the risk of going into the crowd. According to the rules at the time, she knew she wasn’t welcome. She did so because she believed Jesus could heal her.
When we tell our stories, we strengthen and encourage those around us, and I believe we strengthen ourselves too.
She had not watched a YouTube video of Jesus healing the man with the withered hand. The teachings of Jesus were not on Kindle for her to read in her free time. How did she know to follow the crowd to see Jesus that day? Mark 5:27 said she had heard about Jesus. That’s how she knew it was worth it for her to be among the crowd that day.
According to the Levitical standards of her time, this woman would have been ritually unclean, untouchable. So who told her about Jesus?
Perhaps someone had been willing to put their concerns aside to share a word of hope with her. By sharing what they knew about Jesus, they participated in God’s plan for healing this woman.
Sharing the story, one person at a time
Once, I met with graduate students in a Christian fellowship group at a local university. One student talked about hearing from another student about some things they had been dealing with lately. He told the group that he could tell his classmate about his struggles and how his faith sustained him in the midst of them.
He said to his friends around the table, “We’re not ordained or anything, but we do have a story to tell, and we can pray for each other, support each other.”
He is right. We all have a story to tell about our encounters with Jesus.
Faith conversations are not limited to those who have been to seminary. When we tell our stories, we strengthen and encourage those around us, and I believe we strengthen ourselves too.
Have you ever shared with someone about God’s love? Who would benefit from a word of hope from you today?
This post was adapted from, “Sharing our faith stories” by Tiffany C. Chaney from the December 2017 issue of Cafe (http://boldcafe.org).
The Rev. Tiffany C. Chaney is Pastor Developer of Gathered by Grace, a Synodically Authorized Worshipping Community of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, serving Montgomery, Alabama. A bivocational pastor, she also serves as Chief Diversity Officer for Baptist Health – Central Alabama.