Sharing Your Faith by Sharing Your Story by Kris Swiatocho
As a speaker of God's word, teacher, and trainer, I come across individuals all over the world who truly believe sharing their faith is something for those with the gift of gab. They come up with tons of excuses on why they can't share about Jesus with others. This has mostly to do with fear of what to say, how to say it, and dealing with rejection. But what if, what if folks could write out one of the many stories of their life in which God did something? Maybe he cured them of cancer, provide the funds to buy a house, or protected them from a car crash, etc. And instead of trying to convince people of one of the Bible's stories and its authenticity, they instead shared their own story verbally OR in story form on paper resulting if little chance of rejection. Well, I decided to try it myself, and below is a sample of one of my letters. I challenge you to get your singles to do the same.
He Changed Me by Kris Swiatocho
Hi, my name is Kris, and I have a story to tell you. I grew up with a birth father who was absent for most of my life. When he was around, he was very abusive. I didn't know why my father was the way he was until I met his mother, my polish grandmother, at the age of 6. Throughout my childhood into my young adulthood, she was also very abusive to me. You have heard the saying, "hurt people hurt people"? She definitely hurt my siblings and me. She would tell me I was worthless, ugly, and that no one would ever want to me. She loved to say that my mother was a prostitute, a piece of garbage that had entrapped my father into marriage. My grandmother was ruthless in her pursuit to destroy me. But why? What had my family or I done to deserve this? I often asked my grandfather, a very kind person, who, unlike my grandmother, why doesn't he leave her. But he would say, "where would I go"? He asks me, for his sake, to put up with her. When I was 26, my grandfather passed away. This was now my opportunity to exit her life. I could escape the continuous abuse. She couldn't hurt me anymore. Over the next eight years, I had nothing to do with her.
In the meantime, I had my own struggles. I had spent many years making bad choices. I was drinking too much, doing drugs, living with a man, and in horrible debt. I was a mess. I knew I needed some help. After years of my family pray for me, I got down on my knees and asked Jesus into my heart to heal and help me. From that point, my life began to change. I started going to church, attended a Bible study, and got involved with a young singles ministry, where I made some better friends. Over the next few years, the Lord started working on my heart. He told me it was time to reconcile with my grandmother and that I needed to forgive her as Christ had forgiven me. But what if she had not changed? What if she continued to abuse me? I was so scared. What would the Lord want me to do?
My first step was sending a card on her birthday. I remember just signing my name. Then I sent another card at Easter and signed it sincerely, Krysia (my name in polish). Then I sent her a Mother's Day card in which God gave me the courage to say, love, Krysia. Wow, how could I sign it with that word? How could I possibly love such a person? A person who has abused me my entire life. But that is how God works and how he can help you.
Two months past and I got a phone call from a lawyer that my grandmother had gone crazy and was in a mental hospital. He told me that I needed to come to Connecticut to sort out things and make provisions for her. I wasn't sure I could do this. I took one of my brothers along for support. I remember walking into the facility and seeing her sitting on the side of her bed. The first thing she said was, "I forgive you." Forgive me? Forgive me for what? What have I done? The following weeks would be very stressful. Between traveling back and forth to Connecticut weekly, trying to figure out what was best for her, sorting through her possessions, and dealing with her personally, which by the way, had not changed, I was at my wit's end. A judge then told me that I would be given custody of her. She would never be in the right mind to take of herself again. I now started the stressful task of selling her home and its contents. Of all the people in the world that she would want to have custody of her, it wouldn't have been me. She hated me. And I had no idea why. Why God would you put me back in her life. And why would He give me custody of her? God would have a great sense of humor in the middle of His plan.
A few more weeks went by, and eventually, she would be transferred to a nursing home. I continued to travel back and forth to Connecticut, sorting through her things and getting her house ready to sell. I remember praying to God to release me from her so that I could move on with my life. I would call my mom and cry, telling her how my grandmother is still so mean to me. Why would God ask me to do this? What had I done to God that was so bad that I deserved this punishment? I thought I could just sign over my responsibilities of the house to the lawyer. Although I knew I had a legal requirement to take care of her, I didn't feel I had a family requirement. But as the weeks turned into months, something started to change inside of me. What was going on?
By now, to some degree, my grandmother's verbal abuse had lessened, primarily because her illness affected her memory. Then on one particular visit, as I was listening to her ramble on about her opinion of me, what she was saying meant nothing. No matter what she said to me, God would only let me hear what He was saying. When she would say, you are "ugly." God would say, "You are beautiful." When she would say, "no man will ever want you," I would hear God say, "I want you, and I died for you." When she would say, "you are so fat," I would hear God say, "Kris, you could lose a few pounds to get healthier." Haha! Oh my goodness, her words had no power anymore because my identity wasn't in what she thought of me but what God had thought of me. It was from that moment, my whole attitude changed.
It was now around the end of the third year, and I had traveled to see her again. However, instead of calling my mom this time to complain about wanting to leave her here, I asked my mom for help. I told her that I couldn't leave my grandmother in this place any longer. This place was a place of death, not life. I needed to figure out a way to bring her to my home in North Carolina. And in that conversation, I realized I loved her." What…I love her?" Then I remembered Jesus, as he stretched out his arms in what He did on the cross for me, dying for my sins, taking my place---it was for love. I had finally learned to love my grandmother due to Christ's love for me. And His love had changed me. I could finally love her in His power. Only through my relationship with Christ could this had happened.
Well, shortly after my last visit with her, she would pass away. I cried tears of joy at her funeral, knowing that although she never changed, I had. And that is what accepting and following Jesus can do for your life. It changes you for the better. You can forgive those who have hurt you. You can even learn to forgive yourself. Why not accept the Lord today as your Savior.
The Bible, God's word, teaches us that:
If you have gone through these steps and have asked Jesus into your heart, congratulations. Let me encourage you to join a Bible-believing church and start your journey of personal growth. Please let others know you have accepted the Lord into your heart so that they can help you continue to grow.
Do you have other questions or would like to watch a video with further explanation, go to my website at www.KrisSwiatochoMinisties.org and click on "How to Ask Jesus Into Your Life."
Thank you for reading, and know, Jesus does love you and has not given up on you.
Sept 2-3rd, 2021, Flat Rock, NC
For a long list of leadership resources by Kris Swiatocho and other authors, click here.
Kris Swiatocho and the Singles Network Ministry that you operate. Our singles group at my local church is flourishing and I give much credit to you.
Kris holds a singles retreat every September up in the mountains and I’ve attended the last 4 years. The 3rd year, Sept 2018 I came for the leadership portion of the meeting and was inspired by the teaching, many years of experience working with singles, messages shared, stories from other church leaders and resources galore at the meeting and on the website. I left that weekend fired up and it sparked me to start a singles focused bible study at our church which has been running a year now and doing great... I have so many stories I could share... many new visitors/members... connecting with singles in the church that weren’t plugged in.. networking with other Christian groups and churches... things just continue to spiral... we held a singles NYE celebration a few weeks ago. The owner of The Barn Dance (non-alcoholic club) that some of us go to often came. His club was only open on sat night BUT... he was inspired by the number we had at our dance and the amazing community... he had no idea that singles have that much of a need/want to be together. SO tonight he hosted his first Christian Singles Dance Party at The Barn Dance and it was a big hit. Planning to do a monthly dance there... opening with prayer and ending with praise songs and prayer. I can’t wait to see what God has for us in 2020. Also very excited about this years Singles Retreat! Find info on thesinglesnetwork.org and come join us Thanks Kris for all you do... for your heart for God and singles.
—Lisa Young, Lawndale Baptist Church, Greensboro, NC
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