Along The Way

Enjoying “The Color Purple” a fundraiser put on by Gary and Sue Gaither from the English service to help raise funds for the Children’s Cancer Hospital.

“Evening and morning and at noon I will pray, and cry aloud, And He shall hear my voice… Cast your burden on the LORD, And He shall sustain you; He shall never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:17,22

I have been crying out to the Lord; evening, morning and at noon and it seemed as though He was not hearing my prayers. That was until I read these verses and the Lord comforted me that He was listening. He just had to bring me to the point where I had nothing and no one to trust in but Him alone. He has heard my voice and I have cast my burden on the Lord. I am not so worried about the things I was worried about before, because I know the Lord has heard me.

It has been a while since my last update, as usual. A lot has passed since the last update and now, also as usual. I am not sure if I have already mentioned to you guys or not but I was finally able to get my visa, which was an answered prayer and a miracle. Most people have to wait years before they get their visa, I got mine in two months. Also, first time missionaries rarely get a visa for more then 6 months… I got mine for two years. The Lord has just shown me in so many ways that this is the place for me and everything has just fit perfectly. Waiting on the Lord for 5 years payed off, since everything is perfect in His timing. I think, praise God, my Spanish has improved a lot… although it is still always a work in progress. I have been keeping myself pretty busy and have just been getting busier. I joined a Wing Chung Kung Fu gym a few months back and finally made my white belt (in Kung Fu they don’t give you the white belt, you have to earn it). For me it has been something to look forward to and it helps me stay mentally and physically fit (something I think every missionary needs to be concerned about).

Ohhh yeah, getting dangerous!!! No, actually my motivation was to have something to keep myself healthy and also to learn how to defend myself and defend others… something I think every man needs to know.

Woooo!!! I’m legal! 🙂

Besides that the Lord has moved on the heart of some of the people in the English service to start fixing up the mission house next door, being that it was in need of some loving. We have two houses here right next to each other, the Pastor’s house where I live (which also functions as the church office, Sunday school rooms, and a place for fellowship and prayer) and the Mission House (which is designed to allow visiting missionaries and teams to stay while they do work here, there are also various Bible Studies held there as well as Sunday School classes). I am pretty proud of the people in the English Service, we have been going through the book of Nehemiah and how God moved on his heart to repair the wall and help out Jerusalem, and I have a feeling they are just applying what they are learning. I haven’t been able to help out in all that they have been doing, but the Lord did lay it on my heart to restore and repair all the cabinets in the kitchen. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would do it and had mentioned to George (one of the Ecuadorians at the church) for some advice in how to do it since he was a carpenter. To my surprise he offered to help. We spent about a 4 days or so working on it and they ended up turning out really nice. The rest of the group from the English Service have been doing some painting of their own, including all of the downstairs floor and Julia’s room (the resident missionary in the house).

Other than that I have just been working to help bring more order and structure into the English Service. I have been praying about leadership and observing many of the people from the church to see who they are and how they would fit into leadership. We are going to have our first bi-weekly (every other week) servants meeting this Friday at 10 to spend some time together praying for the church, organizing, and seeking the Lord and His Word in order to be of the same mind. I am going to be calling it a servants meeting since I think that’s the most Biblical thing to call ourselves, since when God calls people to leadership He calls them to serve and not to be served.

Being a missionary here hasn’t been a whole lot different than when I was back in California, and I think that’s God design. One thing that I admire about Jesus’ ministry is that wherever He went He ministered along the way. That is something I have tried to imitate, but really I haven’t had to try too hard since it has been the Lord opening the doors for me all along. For example, I have made it a habit of going to a local coffee shop to study, for two reasons; one the coffee is great, and two I never can study at home… I have to go somewhere with the purpose of studying in order to do so. Besides that coffee shops have always been a Gethsemane for me. While I am there though the Lord has always opened up opportunities to minister there in one way or another.

The other day I was reading my Bible and notice that two girls were talking in English next to me, I also noticed that their conversation started out talking about cute guys. Once my food came that I had ordered I decided to pray silently, bow my head and close my eyes (I don’t normally do this, I find it showy and Jesus said let your prayers be done in secret… so I normally just pray to myself in my heart). Yet, I had a feeling though that these girls needed to see that. After that, their conversation changed and they started to talk about the Bible and how they wanted to give a Bible to one of their friends. Seeing the change in the conversation I leaned over and asked them if they were from California. They told me that they were originally from Ecuador but were living in New York. They asked me if I was reading the Bible and if I had prayed before I ate, to which I replied yes and to which they told me they thought was pretty cool. Come to find out they were Jehovah’s Witnesses who were here visiting family. We kept it cordial and just sorta vaguely talked about God, I had been praying in my heart on whether or not to bring up some of the doctrinal issues but decided now wasn’t the time. We said our goodbyes and ended on a good note, I told them I was there all the time and hoped to run into them again. Sometimes it is not always what you say but how you say it, the light and love of God can shine out of you and be a witness even if you don’t speak of it directly. Although we never got to speak about the divinity of Christ directly, I had hoped they would see it in my life, being that I shared I was a Christian Missionary.

After a while an American guy and girl (college aged) sat down next to me, and I over heard one of them ask “So I guess I got to try the coffee here”. To which I replied “Get the cappuccino, its the best one they have here”. Which began another conversation, which ended with them asking why I was here. The guy sounded like he was a Christian (just wasn’t practicing) and the girl was an atheist, both had come to live in Ecuador to study abroad and both told me they were very open to hearing about God. We talked about everything from the problem of evil, to the evidence for the existence of God, the ethics of missions, cultural relativity, the nature of truth (is it absolute or relative) and ended with me having the opportunity to share my testimony and the gospel. This sort of thing happens a lot to me, and I pray for it to happen every morning and more-so that God would go before me and give me the words to say and the love to show when it does happen. The key is to be willing to be used anywhere at anytime, watching for the leading of the Lord, and ministering to people as you go about your day. I have learned you don’t have to go out of your way to evangelize (although I am not opposed to doing that, in fact we will be going out to street witness and give coffee and bread to the prostitutes and drug addicts this Friday night), and in fact it is much more successful and personal when you allow God to work through you in a more natural and normal way.

Coffee Tree, my Garden of Gethsemane.

On the way home as I was walking down some steps I noticed a young adult aged street vendor with his head hung down low, and hitting the side rail repeatedly out of frustrations. I walked by and my heart was struck, and decided I couldn’t just keep walking on. I went back and asked him (all in Spanish of course) if he had had a bad day. He told me he just hadn’t been selling anything, and also that no one wanted to listen to his music since he only knew how to play the traditional tribal type of music. I started to tell him how much of a blessing it was that God has separated one day from another, because if you have a bad day today you always have tomorrow to have a good one. After talking with him for a while I decided I wanted to give him some of the money I had, as well as a gospel of John, and told him that I had stopped because I saw how down he looked and wanted to share God’s love with him. I told him that God is love and because of that I couldn’t just keep walking on when I saw that he was sad. I got the chance to explain the gospel to him and he said he would read it and we got to pray together. Just as I was about to get up and leave he told me he wanted to give me a gift, and handed me a bracelet, which I have to say is probably one of the most precious possessions I now own.

This is the lesson that I have learned though; as you go about your day make time to let God use you along the way. Let’s look at the Samaritan woman at the well for example. Jesus ended up at the well because He was wearied and thirsty, then when the woman came he started up a normal conversation in asking for water until He eventually brought her to a correct understanding of who He is, which then lead to the salvation of an entire village.

So many things have been happening that I am pretty sure I would just bore you if I wrote them all down, but every step of the way the Lord has shown Himself to be with me. Last Saturday night I had the blessing of going to a wedding and got to dance up until 2 AM, followed by an unexpected funeral Monday night (quite the contrast). I also got the chance to go to a fancy dinner that some of the people from the church put on to raise money for the children’s cancer hospital (oh the sacrifices we missionaries make, fancy dinners and all, hehe). God has just been using me in so many ways, and unexpected ways at that, and I am just so blessed and lucky to be a part of what He is doing. His grace is ever astounding and unending. So, my encouragement to you is this; don’t get too busy to let God use you as you go about your way.

Until next time,

Matt

10 responses to “Along The Way

  1. I think next time you have to write it in Spanish, coz I know now is very good. Im so proud of you Little brother!!! 🙂

  2. Thanks Matt for spending time to write all of this its super encouraging to hear about whats going on over there and to hear all that God’s using you to do your in our prayers

  3. I loved this!! I am so excited to be down there in just 9 weeks!! =) Can’t wait to see firsthand how the Lord is using you Matt!!! It is so encouraging and just an amazing blessing for us back home to hear what you’ve been up to!! you are so missed back home but encouraging so many! te veo pronto amigo!!!

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