By Gina Teeple
Director of Development and Ministry Relations
My stomach lurched and my hands began to sweat as I stared up at the twisted metal overhead. I shifted my weight from one foot to the other, gently rocking back and forth. I tried slowly breathing in through my nose and out through my mouth, but it didn’t seem to help.
I was standing in line to ride the Millennium Force at Cedar Point. At the time, it was the tallest roller coaster and the first to top 300 feet. It also had the longest drop and the fastest speed, topping out at 93 miles per hour. All my friends were riding it, so I clearly had to ride it, too. But adrenaline was rushing through my body, and all I wanted to do was run far, far away.
Desperate, I turned to the smiling 9-year-old boy standing in line behind me.
“Have you been on this before?” I asked.
“Yes!” He said enthusiastically.
“Is it scary? Did you like it?”
“Yes!” He said enthusiastically. He pointed to everyone getting off the ride. “See—they liked it, too!”
I looked where he was pointing and, sure enough, everyone getting off the ride was smiling and talking animatedly. I looked back at the boy and thought, if he can do this, I can do this. And I did.
It was AMAZING! Two thumbs up! 4.8 out of 5 stars!
I never would have gotten on that roller coaster if he had not shared his personal experience with me. Apparently, I am not the only one who relies on recommendations. Nielsen studies on trust in advertising found that 70 percent of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know (think online reviews), while 92 percent of people will trust recommendations from people they know.
Personal recommendations are powerful, and not just when it comes to buying things. Throughout scripture, we see how someone’s recommendation, or testimony, leads others to Christ.
We see this in the Gospel of John as we read about Jesus calling his disciples:
The next day John (the Baptist) was there again with two of his disciples. When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God!”
When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus. Turning around, Jesus saw them following and asked, “What do you want?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
“Come,” he replied, “and you will see.”
So they went and saw where he was staying, and they spent that day with him. It was about four in the afternoon.
Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.
Jesus looked at him and said, “You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas” (which, when translated, is Peter). John 1:35-42
Did you notice there are TWO trusted recommendations in this story? First, John the Baptist refers to Jesus as the Lamb of God, and his two disciples begin to follow Jesus. Then one of those disciples, Andrew, finds his brother and brings him to Jesus.
The story of the Samaritan woman at the well is another excellent example. After talking with Jesus at the well, John 4:28 tells us the Samaritan woman left her water jar, went back to town and said to the people, “Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. Could this be Messiah?”
From her conversation with Jesus, we know this woman had a bit of a reputation. There was a chance the townspeople would not even listen to her, let alone believe her. Yet “they came out of the town and made their way toward him (29)” and “many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony … (39).”
Not just SOME of the Samaritans—MANY. Personal recommendations are powerful!
At Worship Anew, we are reminded of this when we receive testimonials from people who are positively impacted by our ministry. Many began watching our television program or reading our daily devotional based on a recommendation from a family member or friend, and their lives were changed by the Gospel message!
The next time you have an opportunity to share your faith with others by inviting someone to church, passing along a devotional booklet, or telling them about ministries like Worship Anew, remember your recommendation is impactful. That is why we can boldly do what the Psalmist encourages us to do:
“Sing to the Lord, praise his name; proclaim his salvation day after day. Declare his glory among the nations, his marvelous deeds among all peoples.” (Psalms 96:2-3)