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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Before and After (05/14/09)

TITLE: Cardboard Testimonies
By Beth Muehlhausen


Cardboard Testimonies

They stood in line, a brigade of wounded soldiers doing battle on the front lines of everyday life. Each one knew the truth about God’s ability to heal; each held a large cardboard placard with hand-written words scribbled in black marker. Collective faces - old and young, male and female - seemed respectfully somber but also confidently awash in peace.

Instrumentalists began to play soft classical melodies in the background on piano, violin, flute, bongo drums, and guitar. A talented bass guitarist softened the sound with deep, resonant tones suggesting a prayerful attitude.

The pastor of the congregation stepped forward dressed in jeans and a knit t-shirt, very much like everyone else. “We all have a story – and each of our stories is important and profound when seen in the context of the spiritual,” he said. “This evening we’re about to witness headlines of transformation.”

He explained this matter-of-factly, but also with eager expectancy. “These people,” he gestured to one side toward those waiting in line, “Have graciously volunteered to be transparent – to authentically lay their hearts bare.” He bowed slightly, as if to honor the people in the wings. “Each one will come before this audience to openly and publicly display a short written description of personal brokenness on a piece of cardboard, then will flip to the other side to give testimony to healing in Christ.”

He grew silent, looked down and closed his eyes very briefly, pausing as if in momentary prayer. Then he looked up and addressed the group before him with final words. “Testimonies will be silent, focusing only on each person’s placard.” Then enthusiastically, “In my opinion, this kind of sharing and encouraging defines the body of Christ. I’ll go first.”

The pastor stooped to pick up a large square of cardboard at his feet that said, “Shy, introverted, fearful, inadequate, insecure.” He flipped it to the other side, which read, “Bold servant of my Lord for twenty-two years.”

As he stepped off-stage, a young blonde woman, perhaps twenty-something, clipped forward in confident strides without a hint of hesitation. Her cardboard said, “Bondage to others’ opinions,” and on the other side, “Freedom to be myself.”

The line filed forward with each person lingering only a few seconds in center stage.

“Chain smoker; addicted to meth” – “Smoke free; addicted to Him”

“Suicidal” – “Fully alive, praise God”

“Cancer 2000” – “Serving God 2008”

“Content to know God intellectually” – “Passionate to know God in my heart”

“Financial trauma” – “New job”

“Death of spouse” – “Christ is sufficient”

“Blind since childhood” – “Seeing more clearly than ever”

“Lust” – “God”

“Deserted by wife” – “I found new life…in Jesus”

“Shattered, broken heart” – “In love with God and man”

“Bitterness” – “Sweet reconciliation”

“Infertile” – “Adopting next month AND pregnant”

“Despair” – “Hope”

“Lukewarm” – “On fire”

“Mountain of credit card debt” – “Debt free”

“Daughter’s suicide” – “Grace to continue on”

“Chronic pain and suffering” – “Heightened measures of mercy”

“Self first” – “God and His plan first”

“Single mom at 15” – “Relying on Him”

“Porn” – “Reborn”

“Hearing disability” – “Patience, acceptance”

“Love of money” – “Love to give”

“Heart degeneration: physical and spiritual” – “Heart recovery complete”

“Lost and broken” – “Found and made whole”

“Painful divorce” – “Marriage restored by God”

“Imprisoned by alcohol” – “Free”

“Felon” – “Bible Study teacher”

“Worry” – “Peace”

“Anger/childhood abuse” – “Forgiveness”

“Devastation” – “Childlike expectancy”

“Nearly died of meningitis” – “Healthy”

“Hated self” – “Love God and self (because He first loved me)”

“Chrone’s disease” – “Doing great”

There was a pause, as if to give the audience a chance to breathe and reflect for a few seconds, to take in and digest the scope of these testimonies. The orchestra continued to play as overhead lights dimmed. Then a tiny child with a wide grin awkwardly loped forward from the shadows with the aid of a supportive walking frame. His parents followed close behind with their sign. “Doctors recommended abortion; had surgery in the womb” – “God’s miracle; He’s three; we’re all so happy!”

A couple in their sixties approached, walking oh-so-slowly with a young adult man between them – one very thin and gaunt-looking, bent and deformed by cerebral palsy, but wearing a big, crooked smile. As the music reached a climactic pitch, the woman held up her cardboard. “We didn’t know how to love – or what love was.” Then she flipped it over, and handed it to her son. With some degree of difficulty, his gnarled hands held the sign as his head bobbed from side to side. “Until God taught them, through me.”

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This article has been read 1314 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Allison Egley 05/21/09
Wow! We had a service exactly like this at my church. It was so amazing. I've got a video, if you'd like to see it. Message me! :)
Emily Gibson05/22/09
Yes, I've seen this testimony on cardboard video too--it is very emotional to watch. Thanks for the reminder of some true story "before and after"s

Verna Cole Mitchell 05/23/09
The testimonies you've presented here are wonderful praises to God's power.
Debbie Roome 05/24/09
A wonderful collection of before and after stories and a testimony to how God works in our lives.
Joanne Sher 05/24/09
I love these types of services - have seen videos of them. Great idea for the topic.
Patricia Herchenroether05/24/09
I haven't heard of this kind of service before but would love to see one. You kept me focused all the way through. Very nice.
Sharon Kane05/25/09
A clever way to show the incredibly vast sweep of what Jesus does for us and how much He means to us.
Carole Robishaw 05/27/09
AWESOME! I got chill bumps reading this
Loren T. Lowery05/28/09
Your last line sent chills up my spine. Indeed as I read some of the cardboard testimonies, I, too, had to stop and take a breath to take it all in. Congratulations on your EC - well deserved!
Leah Nichols 05/28/09
Our church did that recently as well. Very powerful. Nice take on the topic; congrats on your placement!
Sonya Leigh06/01/09
sorry this is so late---great job on this story and on your terrific EC placement.