As a child, one of my favorite movies was Mary Poppins. Mary Poppins is the most award-winning movie of all time and a timeless classic. The movie Saving Mr. Banks is about the making of Mary Poppins.
Saving Mr. Banks focuses on P.L. Travers, author of the Mary Poppins children's novel. It is the story of the author's battles with Walt Disney, who wants the rights to a feature-length movie. Walt Disney said he decided many years ago to make Mary Poppins into a feature-length film. He promised his girls he would make a movie from P. L. Traver's book! Walt Disney was desperate to bring the story to film, but the author was against giving Disney the rights to make a movie out of it.
Why? Because a lot of the book comes from her life experiences growing up. She had a father she loved who was an alcoholic, as well as an aunt who came to help him. This helping aunt became Mary Poppins. The author had a complex family background. For over 20 years, Walt Disney pursued the rights to make the book into a movie, culminating with flying Travers to Los Angeles to begin working on the project.
Saving Mr. Banks shows that many writers use personal stories from their life, stories that are part of them. It was hard for Travers, as she had invested so much in Mary Poppins, so much of herself in the story. The film slowly reveals how Traver's childhood and her father became part of her writing and the themes of her books.
In the same way, our lives become the stories in which we proclaim the daily testimony of how Jesus impacts our life. The power of our lives is found in understanding how Jesus impacts our lives daily for His glory. Our testimonies of Jesus not only greatly influence others for the Kingdom of God for His glory, but they also significantly affect overcoming the enemy.
Revelation 12:11 says believers "triumphed over [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death." Notice the "word" of their testimony, meaning these triumphant ones spoke verbally, without shame or fear. Some believe Christians should not verbalize their testimony but live it out daily. But it's not an either-or proposition. Living the gospel message is essential, but it's no more important than our verbal testimony since God has chosen "hearing" the Word to produce faith (Romans 10:17).
A Christian who wants to live his life as a testimony to Jesus will love God above all else and love others above himself. When a believer shares what Jesus has done in his life and serves God and others in tangible ways, he will increasingly reflect the life-giving power of Christ into a dark and evil world.
All believers are forgiven and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb (1 Peter 1:18–19). A believer's testimony also assists in conquering the evil one, and he cannot defeat us if we resolutely confess our faith in Jesus. You are a living witness if you have experienced Jesus' forgiveness and been born again. Are you enthusiastic about sharing the testimony of Jesus with those around you? As we would tell others about a doctor who cured a physical disease, we should speak about Christ, who forgives our sins and lives within us.
And by the Word of their testimony - the faithful testimony they bore to the truth. They declared their belief in Jesus and shared how Jesus has changed—and is changing—their lives. It was by this that they overcame the great enemy. We are called to be like the man in the gospel of Mark who continually told others what the Lord has done and is doing in his life. In Mark 5:19-20 it says: “Jesus did not let him, but said, "Go home to your family and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how He has had mercy on you. So, the man went away and began to tell in the Decapolis how much Jesus had done for him. And all the people were amazed.”
We overcome the enemy when we hold to the testimony of Jesus in our lives and share it with others. I was having lunch with some close friends after a Go & Tell Ministries weekend at a church in Indianapolis. We began to share the stories of Jesus in our lives when Jayna shared a word of her testimony with me. It was powerful and such an encouragement to me. Jayna shared this testimony with me:
I was blessed to grow up in a Christian home and gave my life to Jesus when I was about 6 or 7. I am thankful that God gave me that opportunity so early in life, but through the years, I've felt like I didn't have a powerful enough testimony to share how I came to faith in Jesus.
Over the years, I have heard several people giving their testimonies of how God miraculously saved them from abuse, addictions, suicide, miraculous healings, etc. I thought their testimonies were so powerful because there was a sudden change in their lives that they and others could easily see. And as I listened, I secretly wished I had a testimony worth sharing, something powerful that would impact others and draw them to Christ so I could feel like my life meant something, like I had a purpose. Then almost as soon as I had that thought, I heard a gentle voice saying, "You know, you have to have a test to have a testimony."
Wow! I knew that wasn't my thought and began to think maybe not having much of testimony was ok; as long as I was saved, perhaps it didn't matter. I felt like I'd had enough hard things in life to at least be able to empathize with others, so maybe I could be used that way? Well, God had other plans!
A few months or so later, Covid hit. Everything started to slow down. In a span of several months, my husband's business drastically slowed, and I was let go with just a month's severance and the loss of insurance coverage. I was devastated. But I clung to Romans 8:28, that "God works all things together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose."
I took the next month to pray and seek God on what He wanted me to do, as my husband kept urging me to work with him. Since no one was hiring due to Covid, I started working for my husband in his travel company. Not long after, we discovered that the business was being taken advantage of by the "prospective buyers," and they had stolen a significant amount of money.
On top of losing my job and the painful feeling of being scammed and not selling the business, this was becoming a nightmare. I struggled with these questions for months, but I kept clinging to God's Word and the promises of His faithfulness. All I could do was trust that God was still good and would get us through all this somehow.
Then, one day in late November of 2021, while showering, I felt something on my left breast that I hadn't noticed before. It concerned me a bit as I had put off scheduling my yearly mammogram that year because I had lost my job and insurance, so decided not to bother with it since the previous years had always been exemplary. But now I knew I had to go in and ensure this wasn't anything to worry about.
I scheduled an ultrasound, a diagnostic mammogram two days after Christmas, and a biopsy on January 10, 2022. After the biopsy, I got the news I never imagined hearing; I had been diagnosed with stage 1a Invasive Ductal breast cancer and would need surgery. I went numb, and I couldn't believe this was true! In my daze, I told the woman on the phone that we couldn't afford surgery or all of the treatments that went along with it. I told her how I'd lost my job and insurance and was working with my husband in the travel industry being shut down by Covid. She gave me a number to call their financial assistance department to see how they could help.
At that point, I broke down and just sobbed. I raised my hands and said, "God, we can't afford this! I don't understand! We will lose everything trying to pay these bills independently. I qualified for Medicaid and was told it would cover all of my medical expenses since the month I was diagnosed, as long as I was being treated until I was declared cancer-free. It also covered most dental and vision expenses and a few other things. Wow! I felt a heavy weight lift off my shoulders as I began crying in amazement. I hung up the phone with relief and lifted my hands to praise God! He had indeed come through in a way I could've never imagined!
I had my surgery on April 1, 2022, hoping God would choose to play the April Fool's joke on the surgeons before surgery to find that He had healed me miraculously without their help, but that wasn't His plan. A year later, my surgeon called me a "Survivor." I still see the oncologist every 3 to 6 months until they say I am cancer-free.
Through this, I see how He has given me a testimony of His goodness and provision. I may not have a powerful testimony of how I initially came to Christ. But I now realize that "my testimony" isn't just the story of how I came to Christ (although it might be for some), but He has given me a testimony of His faithfulness as I choose to continue to believe in His Word. I now have many other testimonies of God's faithfulness to me throughout my life that I didn't recognize before.
God tells us that in this world, we will have trouble. But to take heart! Because He has overcome the world. (John 16:33) Someone once said, "you can't get to the promised land without going through the wilderness!" I'm still journeying through this wilderness and learning as I go, but I'm carrying with me the testimonies of God's faithfulness and trusting He will use them somehow to bring Him glory and draw others closer to Him.”
Sooner or later, every believer discovers that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground, and that he faces an enemy much more potent than he is (apart from the Lord). We can overcome the enemy through our testimony. The "testimony" mentioned here is not just a saving faith in Jesus but a daily living faith trusting in Jesus. Our testimony is just our walk with Jesus. Trust in God's promises and power, who works daily for His glory.
In Revelation 12:17, the Bible states that our enemy seeks to make war against those who obey God's commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus. Our daily walk with Jesus, the testimony of our life with Jesus, can defeat the enemy and give Glory to God.
When the movie Saving Mr. Banks was offered on a flight several years ago, I decided to watch it. I was returning home from an exhausting mission trip to Honduras with our sister church in El Potrero via World Renew. I was surprised to learn that perhaps part of the reason Mary Poppins stands the test of time was because the message behind it is one born out of real-life relationships.
In the closing scenes, I was moved to tears as the movie explains how the author of Mary Poppins was not just writing an incredible imaginative children's story, but she was sharing her very life. As I flew home from my mission trip, watching Saving Mr. Banks, I was fighting back tears at the end of the movie when Walt Disney realized it was not just a children's story, but it was the author’s very life in that book.
At that moment, I felt the Lord impress upon my heart this simple statement, "Jim, the Go & Tell Ministries is just our life together." As I travel the country, equipping the church to share the gospel and make disciples with Go & Tell Ministries, I realize that the power of the ministry is in the testimony I share about my walk with Jesus. We not only overcome the enemy with our testimony of Jesus, but it can also lead others to saving faith in Jesus Christ as their Savior.
The Psalmist said, "I will praise God's name in song and glorify Him with thanksgiving." (Psalm 69:30). The big question is not: Do you have a voice? But, do you have a song? As you walk in obedience to Jesus, He will give you a song that you will want to sing to the world. The testimony of Jesus should be sung daily by all who walk with Jesus and obey His commands.
At the end of Mary Poppins, Mr. Banks has lost his job but comes away a better man. He gets the kids to fly a kite with him, and Mrs. Banks comes along too. Mr. Banks never had a voice with the kids, but now at the end of the movie, he has a song. As we become children of God and walk with Jesus, He will give us a song to sing daily. May we hold to the testimony of Jesus and sing His song daily to others.
Let's go fly a kite
Up to the highest height
Let's go fly a kite
And send it soaring
Up through the atmosphere
Up where the air is clear
Oh, let's go fly a kite