Matt spent his entire adult life rejecting God, even though he had roots in the church and was introduced to Jesus as a child.
“I stayed with my grandparents a lot when I was young because my mom worked two jobs. My grandparents took me to church every chance they got and we went often. I loved being at church with them. They were really involved. Grandma was the pianist and Grandpa sang. We often sang Gospel songs together at their house and they would teach me Bible stories.
My grandma got sick, though. And I prayed and prayed that God would make her better. But he didn’t. Or at least he didn’t in the way I wanted. She died. And I got resentful. Her death drove me away from church. Over the next 15 years, I went maybe 2 times just because I knew it would make my Grandpa happy.”
Up until a year ago, Matt’s mind was made up that he would never re-enter church world. Or at least not the religion of his childhood. He checked into Buddhism, and Hinduism. He explored New Age and even read a Koran that someone gave him. And although he sought after a “higher power” nothing seemed to fit. He never committed to any of those forms of religion and considered himself an agnostic.
Two years ago, circumstances in his life began to unravel.
He and his wife went through an extremely difficult time and Matt turned to drinking to cope.
“I would leave work and start drinking to escape the pain. I didn’t know how to deal with the hurt and stress. I turned to alcohol for help and to avoid the tough circumstances I was living through.”
But it was during those extremely difficult days that God’s hand of providence began to sweep in.
Matt had long worked at Valley Pharmacy with Angie Moore. But while Matt was facing the terrible lows, Craig and Angie bought the pharmacy and Craig began working there full time as well.
“Angie and I had always enjoyed friendly debates about religion. I knew she cared for me and accepted me no matter my position, so it was a safe relationship to discuss things about God even though we didn’t agree. Craig and I could talk about Christianity as well. And when I started going through the toughest time in my life, they did more than talk. They were there for me. I began to look at Craig and realize how happy he was. I realized he didn’t need alcohol to be that way or cope with life’s problems. The way he lived became very attractive to me. I wanted what he had.”
It was during this very span of time that Angie and Craig began to visit First Baptist Valley. And it didn’t take them long before they were inviting Matt to come too.
“Over and over Angie asked me to come to church with them. Not in a pushy, way. And she never made me feel guilty about it. I could tell she just genuinely wanted me to come with them. ‘You will love the music,’ she would say. ‘Just come for the music.’ So finally about a year ago, I gave in and visited with them. I came sporadically for a long time. I did love the music. And when I came, I felt….something. But for a guy who had been denouncing Christianity for his whole adult life, making the commitment to dive in felt like I was being disloyal to who I had become. I kept it all at arms length and just visited every now and then.
At some point though, after visiting more and more often I realized I was beginning to consider this Christianity thing again. One particular weekend, things had been over the top busy at the pharmacy. We were all working long hours but still unable to keep up with the demand. Angie told me on Saturday that she was going to work the next morning to try and get caught up.
‘And miss church?’ I asked.
‘Yes,’ she said. ‘I guess so.’
I hated the thought of it. Angie LOVED church and I couldn’t stand the thought of her not going just for work. I told her that if she would go to church, I would go with her and then go back to the pharmacy to help. It seems so funny now.
She was usually the one begging me to go to church. But there I was insisting that she go and offering to go with her.”
Not long after that, Matt began attending more and more frequently. And by May he was coming every week. One Sunday was especially impactful, and he found himself at a crossroads.
“The worship band was playing the song “Broken Vessels.” Suddenly, I was trying to hold back tears. I could no longer hide or try to push back how I felt; a connection with God. I was finally able to accept the truth that I hadn’t wanted to let in; that Jesus had been with me all along. And that I was right where I needed to be.
After church I got in my truck and cried all the way to Angie and Craig’s house. I knew down deep that I wanted to follow Christ. I no longer needed all the answers to my theological questions. I was content to figure out what He wanted me to as I went along. I was ready to embrace Christ, and put my trust in Him.”
Shortly after, Matt was baptized,, publically professing his faith in Jesus. And in a huge contrast from the way he previously held church at arms length, he has now dove right in! From volunteering at Lafayette-Lanier Elementary, to helping run the sound board and playing with the worship band, Matt has really gotten involved.
“I have always loved music. But honestly I used to look at Christian music as not very good. Now though, I have a deep appreciation for it. It’s as good as the Beetles! I see how the worship band works at it, and how complex and wonderful it can be. It’s been great for me to be involved with that aspect of the church.”
No longer content to keep the secret to himself, Matt has also invited other people he cares about to come with him; his wife and daughter, his closest friend, and his mom.
“It’s kind of amazing. I just casually asked my buddy to come, and he did! He’s been visiting for several weeks now.”
When asked how his life has changed since he committed to following Christ, Matt answered,
“Problems still arise, but it’s easier to cope with them. Since God is here with me, I don’t face them alone. I don’t need to drink to deal with things. Before, Angie and Craig and my family were my only support. Now I have them and God.”