Many Christians define the word testimony too narrowly. Sharing Jesus is much more than just telling our conversion story or talking about God’s work in our lives, although those things are important. We need to be prepared to meet unbelievers at the point of their spiritual need, even if our own story is very different.
We can learn a lot from Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch. While young Israelites had friends and family to disciple them in their faith, a foreign convert often had to work alone to discern the meaning of the Scriptures. So by asking, “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip showed that he understood the Ethiopian’s disadvantage. That one question enabled him to discover that the man had a genuine thirst for God’s truth but did not know of the Messiah.
Philip used that information to tailor a gospel testimony for his particular listener. Consider how easily the man could have become confused or frustrated if Philip—whose Jewish background was so different from the Ethiopian’s—had told only his own conversion story. The evangelist wisely relied on the text at hand and the power of God’s Word to introduce the man to Jesus Christ.
Philip’s testimony began with the passage the Ethiopian was reading. He effectively spoke to the man’s spiritual interest in general while specifically answering his questions about Isaiah 53. We, too, must be sensitive to unbelievers’ concerns so we can explain how God will meet their needs.