Emma Hunter, Youth Speak News

The power of testimony

By  Emma Hunter, Youth Speak News
  • January 15, 2016

Over Christmas break I had the privilege of attending Catholic Christian Outreach’s annual Rise Up conference. Throughout the five-day conference I reflected on the conference theme “Made for Greatness” and how it relates to my life.

A talk given by Leah Darrow is one of the things that most resonated with me. Her session was one of the most memorable, and I truly felt like she was speaking directly to me throughout the talk, even though I was sitting in a ballroom with about 700 other people.

A former contestant on America’s Next Top Model, Darrow spoke about her conversion moment at a modelling photo-shoot and subsequent return to the fullness of the Catholic Church. Her talk was relatable, honest and genuine.

I keep telling all my friends about how awesome it was, and I think the reason I found it so powerful was because Darrow’s talk was a personal testimony. She spoke openly about her struggles with sin, getting caught up in secular culture and the difficult decision to return to the Sacrament of Confession.

She wasn’t just giving a speech tailored for the theme “Made for Greatness.” She took us through her faith journey with beautiful honesty about the times she was far from God, but also proved that God redeemed her brokenness.

Often when I think about sharing my faith with others, I feel like I need to have all the right intellectual answers to questions about religion and the Catholic Church. I find it intimidating to think that I haven’t read all the best spiritual books or all the biographies of great saints or all the writings of the Church fathers.

But reflecting on Darrow’s testimony, I realized that it’s okay not to have all the answers to these questions right now. Simply sharing with someone how God has worked in my life can be really powerful. I think that testimonies are important because people respond when you speak from personal experience. Being genuine and honest about your faith journey speaks to people who may be going through similar struggles.

Darrow’s talk was especially relevant for a youth audience because the Church needs lay people who are willing to boldly share their testimony with the people around them. God didn’t give each of us a unique encounter with Him to keep to ourselves. We are to share with others so that they too may encounter Him in a personal way.

Darrow’s talk reminded me that sharing my own experience and personal encounter with the Lord is so important in evangelization. People appreciate when you speak from the heart with truth and honesty because it is relatable and real. Darrow spoke with conviction and courage, and showed that personal testimony is powerful and should never be discredited.

(Hunter, 24, is a graduate student at Queen’s University where she studies Early Modern European and Canadian history.)

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