We often designate missionaries as super-Christians who are born with a clear, life-long calling to overseas missions. We create such lofty pedestals that we convince ourselves that missions is only for the “higher-up” Christians.
We could tell you story after story of normal people living normal lives who are saying “yes” to obedience and letting God place them where He wants to use them.
Matt is a 34-year-old full time missionary teaching English in the Middle East. He came through our program in 2008, where he gained a heart for the Muslim people and assurance that long-term missions in the 10/40 window was for him. His story is one of a normal person, faithfully taking steps to serve his extraordinary God in restoring His people to Himself.
How Did Matt End Up Overseas?
Matt’s journey to a North African rooftop began in Los Angeles, California. He grew up going to Vacation Bible School, attending private Christian school, and learning to read the Bible on his own at a young age. But like many of our stories, his did not stay so pretty.
Divorce split his family, shook his faith, and by the end, it would shape his future. Matt cast blame and resentment on his father and for the next few years avoided him, not knowing that at the same time he was avoiding his heavenly Father.
One day some friends asked if he wanted to go to the beach with their church. Afterwards there was a message that he didn’t really want to hear, but decided to stay anyway. It was about forgiveness. He was reminded of God’s desire to forgive and for us to forgive others. He felt Jesus restoring his faith and urging him to call his father for the first time in two years.
He made the call. His father was thrilled to hear his voice and they began the process of rebuilding their relationship. Though it was hard, Matt listened to his father’s story and saw that he didn’t deserve all the blame. That night marked the beginning of Matt’s journey with Jesus.
After coming to work at his home church in Los Angeles, Matt went on a two-week trip to Uganda with some students and church elders. Upon returning, an elder challenged him to think about life beyond their church – to consider long-term missions. But Matt didn’t think he would integrate well in other cultures, he had hardly traveled, and had no desire to leave California if he could help it. Still, he grew open to the idea and through bringing it to the Lord, decided to attend Fuller Theological Seminary at the age of 24.
At Fuller, Matt was introduced to God’s global vision. But Matt had no clarity about where he wanted to serve, and it drove him nuts that others were seemingly so sure. He prayed, “God I’m supposed to know something now – I don’t. All I know is there’s this global vision and I’m supposed to be a part of it somehow. But I have no idea how to put that together or what it means for my life.” A few months later, he found Cafe 1040.
He was 27 when he signed up for Cafe 1040’s mentorship. Being overseas for 3 months enabled him to invest in the local people, embrace foreign culture, and deepen his relationship with the Lord. Separation from his usual context enabled Matt to hear God’s voice in a new, clear way – on a rooftop.
For Matt, time on the rooftop was simple. He brought every experience, encounter, and everything he learned to the Lord each day and allowed Him to speak into it. From atop the building he lived in, looking out over the city and the Muslim people, he heard God say, “I love these people.” Matt finally knew whom he was called to serve. It was clear that he was going to the unreached, and his mentorship experience was a pivot point. He learned that he could be a cross-cultural missionary, and now had the confidence to take his next step.
Matt is just an ordinary guy who has been faithful to an extraordinary God.