love yourself enough to leave

To quote Nas on NY State of Mind, “I don’t know how to start this shit.”
Last year was traumatizing and turbulent and did I mention traumatizing?
In January and February I was (almost singlehandedly) leading a team of 15 people aged 17-54 in Egypt and Cyprus. That experience caused tremendous burnout. When COVID hit the states I was in Germany and I flew back on the first flight I could before the travel ban took effect- actually, the day of. I went back to Madison and was staying in the housing of an organization I used to work with there. While there, around May, was when I got intimately accustomed to burnout- and accepting that I’d been going too hard for too long. And then! Ahmaud Arbery was killed. And then George Floyd was killed. And then Breonna Taylor. And then Jacob Blake in our Wisconsin background of Kenosha. I’m not a talker (despite being a poet) I’m a doer. And so I was in the streets, protesting, as well as writing and self publishing a book about my first hand experiences on the frontlines. I was also protesting within the organization I worked for- a “christian” missions organization. I laid out to them how systemically they too, were practicing racism. My reward? They evicted me from their housing. They held base wide meetings where they smeared and blasphemed my character. They gaslit me whenever I came to them. And they told everyone that they weren’t complacent when it came to anti-racism work- DESPITE me going to them 2-3 years prior and telling the base leader that the org needed anti racist training. The leader’s nonchalant response was, “Well, what you’ve got to understand is we’re a group of midwestern white people- we don’t know much about race.”- functionally- using the very problem as a justification for their lack of response, and implying that if only I understood the social situation I wouldn’t have any qualms with it. I reject that.
I spent 4 years with that org- a “christian” org- and thought I made friends and even developed familial ties with some of them. But when things got real- and I refused to be silent- they evicted me. In the middle of a global pandemic.
As Kendrick Lamar asks in Mortal Man, “when shit hits the fan is you still a fan?”
I found the answer was an overwhelming “no.”
Most of the people I thought I could rely on abandoned me and sided with the institution. Going into the late summer/early fall I was lead actor in a film called Trace The Line (but I signed an NDA so I can’t talk too much about that…hopefully y’all will see it one day, tho) and during those couple months my mental health declined significantly. I was still suffering from the encumbering burnout of my early 2020 excursion to Egypt and Cyprus- and jumping into the summer I still hadn’t healed from the months prior- and now I had spiritual abuse wounds and also wounds from activism- like being teargassed and maced (one night during the summer teargas wafted into our house- that’s how proximate my living conditions were to the protests of the summer). I was in survival mode. Just tryna do the things I had to. But I was in a BAD place. Most nights I’d take a full glass of whiskey to my room. The wounds were compiling and I had no space to process and/or heal them. And then, I got married October 24th. And moved to Yukon, Canada on October 27th. I died there. Not literally- but, for the first time all year I had space just to break down. To weep. To be hurt. And I was hurting, excruciatingly. I still am hurting. And that’s okay. It has to be. I haven’t posted on here for a long time because I didn’t know how to say anything. Like, I still don’t want to hurt that organization. Which is obviously a double standard cause they clearly didn’t give a flying fuck about me.
I remember I was in a meeting with their leadership team post-eviction and one of the leaders said, “Matthew, you know we love you, right?”
And I immediately retorted, “But you can see how evicting me for speaking out against racism in the middle of a global pandemic doesn’t communicate that you love me, right?”
And he shrugged.
If that is love then I don’t want to be loved by anyone ever!
During the winter I broke down like a car out of gas. Contemplating suicide. Wondering if I needed to be checked in to a psych ward. Damn near apostatizing. Cause if their god is the god I’d been serving for the past 4 years as I worked in that org then I didn’t want anything to do with God.

Part of what I realized is that by being in the org I betrayed myself. From the 2nd month of working in that org in 2016 I knew it was racist. But, even then I was in survival mode. I didn’t graduate High School. I didn’t want to be flipping burgers for minimum wage. I didn’t have a good job history. Where else could I go? So, I stayed. And endured a whole lot that I never should have allowed myself to go through.
One “fun” story is a dude who asked me why I was listening to “nigger music” when I was listening to Kendrick Lamar.

I wrote a poem that I published in You Can Not Burn The Sun (my book) called ” white love has not been enough” and in it I write,
“to truly care
requires love
or policy in the absence of love

and i need some policy
because white love has not been enough”


I’m coming to terms with how I put myself in a situation wherein I needed to be protected, and wasn’t. I relied on a broken and debased love when I should’ve demanded policy. I would literally avoid going to the main base of the org because I anticipated experiencing racism in the form of micro and macro aggressions.
I stayed. For 4 long years. And I betrayed myself in doing so. And the day when I decided to stop betraying myself- they painted me as the bad guy.
But do you want to know the funny thing? I knew that would happen. The night before I went to the organization I was at a true friend’s house and I told them that if I spoke up I’d be villianized. I anticipated assassination of character and I still went. Granted, I didn’t anticipate getting evicted. That one really sucked. But, more than my own self betrayal, the fact of the matter is I was betrayed by an org that exploited my labor for 4 years. By an org that wanted me to be a good little nigger, (lets call a spade a spade, ok?) obedient, and docile. By an org that named eviction as love.

I write this because I gotta tell my truth. I write this because I realized I have no desire to continue suffering woundings that come from self-betrayal. I write this cause fuck racism. I write this because it is liberating to know and tell our stories.
And so, my dear reader, I hope and pray that you can learn from my mistakes. Don’t betray yourself like I did. And don’t work for people who will betray you. If you see red flags call that shit out. If you see red flags and you call that shit out and they stay complacent- LEAVE. You owe them nothing. Love yourself enough to leave.
I’ll say it again, love yourself enough to leave.

USA | the burning house, and it’s tenets

“No one ever talks about the moment you found that you were white. Or the moment you found out you were black. That’s a profound revelation. The minute you find that out, something happens. You have to renegotiate everything.”

-TONI MORRISON

As a transracial adoptee who grew up in a white family and was raised in a small white town in Oregon state, I always knew that the color of my skin was different, but I never thought that meant anything about me or the world around me. That is, until I was about 7 or 8. I had two experiences that I’ll never forget- not so much for what they communicated about me- but because of what they communicated about Whiteness and the White world I was embraced by in some kind of barbed wire hug.

The first; as a child we attended church every Sunday. One day a family’s house burned down who attended our church and so our church decided that we’d build them a new house. My family went to the construction site and I was helping the young son of the burned down house. We were around the same age and his name was Micah. I didn’t really know Micah, but we weren’t at all on bad terms. Hell, we were 7. What kind of bad terms can 7 year olds even be on? And then- Micah looked over to me and snarled, “go get me a hammer, nigger.”

I went to my White mother immediately and told her what Micah said and she patted me on the back and said, “it’s okay. Go back to work, honey.” I learned then that Whiteness doesn’t know how to/or won’t validate the violation of Black bodies. That even when told about a violation, Whiteness sweeps it under the rug and prefers to go on with its comfortable reality. And this reality is so interesting as I look at it in context of what was happening around me: a White family’s house burned down and our White church said “we’ll rebuild it.” meanwhile after telling my White mother that a metaphorical house of mine was being burnt down right before her eyes she said “go back into the house.” Functionally & essentially, “Burn alive, for all I care.”

My second racial revelation happened while I was at recess. In my school, Fir Grove Elementary, 3rd and 5th graders shared the same recess. I was playing four square with some friends when all of a sudden a White girl ran up to me out of nowhere. I didn’t recognize her from my class , so I knew she must be in 5th grade. I found out later that her name was Hailey. “Do you know why you’re Black?”, she asked me. As an 8 year old I can freely admit I spent not one moment thinking about WHY my skin was black. Her question intrigued me, because it revealed to me that not only was I different- but! that there must be a reason for why, too. “No”, I replied. “Because God put you in a toaster and forgot to take you out”, she shot back, giggled, and ran away. I don’t think I ever saw her again. Again, I learned another important lesson about the world around me. I learned that Black bodies are easily forgotten by the God of White people. That my Black body, and Black life, is to be forever remembered by me and the world around me, as an afterthought to the God of White people.

Life lessons like that stick with you. They eat away at you. They disfigure and disorient you. And in my country, in the White communities I’ve traveled in, they’re reinforced. Perhaps that’s why this last summer was so traumatic and triggering to me. If you’ve read my debut poetry collection You Can Not Burn The Sun, you know a bit of what I’ll say. I blew the whistle on the systemic racism within a primarily White Christian missions organization I used to work for, and their response was to gaslight, disenfranchise, and evict me. I was living in housing they provided me because I had nowhere else to go (in a global pandemic- in Dane county where there was actually a hold on evictions because of the pandemic).

Again, I blew the whistle, saying, “you have been a fire to the house I live in.” And their response was, “then find a new house because we don’t want to hear about how we’ve burned you.” There was no ultimatum, but if there was, I think it would have been something like this: “stay silent, and bear the burns of this house or be excommunicated from us.” Because- kinda like Kanye said post-hurricane Katrina about Bush and Blackness, “the God of White people doesn’t care about Black people.”

It’s no wonder I apostatized at age 18 because I suspected God was a White supremacist. I’m 25 now, and somehow, a Christian. Spiritual abuse and trauma fucking sucks. Because it irons into your soul that not just people- but God- is ugly. As I continue my life, I have to intentionally conceive of a God who doesn’t just “love everybody.” No. My God must wake up in the morning to gospel music, Godself singing how Black bodies and lives don’t just matter to God- but how we are a priority to God. Because I can’t and I won’t worship a God who forgets me.

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Madison | To Dance While People Watch

 

To dance while people watch:
Graceful as trained ballerinas
We are the great balancers
and each tipped toe is
Loud like Step
Stomping the battlegrounds
A haunting Haka that rattles all who oppose us

A dance that becomes second nature like taking a breath
We all learned once to breathe
and how rare it is to forget
yet our memory wavers when it comes to dancing

Learned and remembered through trial and error
is a dance that is synchronized to the heavens
every movement is made to undermine the devil

I want to live life as if it were a dance.
Because not everyone learns to dance
And even fewer can dance in front of an audience

-to dance while people watch

 

 

The Inner

It’s funny how everything can come together all of a sudden. Like compiling inspiration for art, our lives can seem to be full of random occurrences and then BOOM! it all comes together, you see the common thread throughout and your mind is blown!
“How did I not see this sooner?”,
Yeaaah, that’s me this month. Boldness is the theme for me. And the necessity for it in a world that waters down faith to the most common denominator. At church last Sunday I asked God what boldness is and He asked me, “what’s the difference between bold text and regular text?”.
I thought for a moment and came to an answer, “boldness is unafraid to be seen.”.
For most of my life I have been afraid to be seen. I’ve hid behind what I think other people expect of me. Trying to be what I think they think I am. I keep to myself. I do what I can to not be different. But that’s not boldness. And so it’s struck me as strange when people tell me (as they have quite a few times over the last 2 years) that I’m bold. I’m like “naaaaah man, I don’t see how you see that.” But there are certain things that I am bold in. Like art. I’m transparent with what I create, it’s a sacred space I occupy in communion with God and I share that space with other people. But in other areas of my life I’m afraid to share that with other people. What if they don’t like me after I say this? What if they disagree? God reminds me that the prophets weren’t responsible for being liked, or how they were received, they- like mailmen- were responsible only for delivering the message. The message is a God informed lifestyle. And I’ve hidden that message too long. I’ve been afraid to be myself with and without God. But that fear is based in past brokenness. It has no place in the new creation that I am in Christ. He has freed me. And He has freed you! Are you afraid to be different? Don’t be! Nothing about truly being a child of God isn’t counter-cultural! We are called to relate to the whole world in a wholly different way than everybody else.

To be honest, sometimes I feel like I need permission to do things. And so when I was processing this fear of being different, God the Father gave me permission to be different, and since then I’ve felt much more free to be myself and enjoy life in the way that God created me to! While it may seem small, I’ve danced while people watch. And that, for me,  reveals that I really am engaging with a freedom to be different.

The Outer

  • I am staffing Bible School for the Nations in Madison Wi from April 30th-November 2018. But our School has a single student, and will not be run if we don’t get more. Please pray for more applicants.
  • Leading Spark (arts elective in the Discipleship Training School) has been such a growing experience for me. I’ve taught 2 of the last 3 weeks on Healing thru Art, and the connection between Prophecy and Creativity.
  • I’m on a team on UW-Madison campus called Race & Faith and we held an event 2 weeks ago that prompted a lot of discussion and thought among those who came.
  • A couple weeks ago I spoke at a high school Youth Group. I spoke for a little over an hour long and the kids were so engaged! Afterwards one of them came to me and thanked me for coming and said that him knowing that I made it through what I been through he knows that he can get through what he’s going through too.

 

 

The Photos

 

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Sometimes discipleship happens on hallway couches!
[Some of the current Winter DTS girls, + Nathan one of the staff and african travel-mate]

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Phos House staff alumni! Megan is off to latvia! And David was in Asia for the last 7ish months staffing a bible school there. And we were reunited for a good 5 minutes before David headed to cali.

Speaking@YouthGroup
Me speaking at a Youth Group

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Our Base sending off a family with gifts and prayer!

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Future Fair! Our base setting up to recruit new staff to our ranks!

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Dinner at Phos House! The Fall Discipleship Training School came to visit us and tell us about their missions trip!

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Art can be used therapeutically! Art Therapists have war veterans make masks as part of their sessions and the veterans say that their treatment progress soars! So when I taught Healing Thru Art I had the students make masks of their own representing a trauma in their life. These are their creations!

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For a date night my gf and I scouted out an art show that me and the Spark team (art elective in the DTS) were planning to take our students to! Justin Eccles (the artist) spent 13 years in Istanbul running an art gallery and using his art for ministry. What a great gallery! This is the backroom ft pieces that didn’t make the show.

 

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Propaganda spoke and performed at the Kingdom Justice Summit I went to. I’ve never met anybody I admired before, so this is a treasured experience.

My favorite song. Cynical.

 

The Poems

I used to take up a single page in my journal, every day
no matter how messy my thoughts were
As if even in my most desperate and deprived I had to miniaturize myself
and fit all of my sorrow on one page

This fear of taking up too much space
colored the way I relate even outside of journal entries

-Shortchanged smallness, stigmatized existence

 

Tanzania | Do I really make an impact?

Wrestling through the question of, “Do I really make an impact?”

MatthewMirriamTajiNathanTanzania

My perspective has never been a ‘filled to the brim, glass full’

It’s been, ‘if I don’t see the water it can’t exist at all’
but when you name a woman’s child
you begin to forget those “do I really make an impact?” doubts

 

The Inner

One sunday morning in Morrogoro, Nathan and I were at church. I was to be the preacher of the day, but at the end of my sermon the Pastor of the church asked Nathan if he would share as well, “just say anything, we just want to hear your voice!”, They pleaded.
After Nathan’s spirit filled message of the importance of a 7 day faith, the pastor invited us to his house for “2nd service” as he called it. “There is a time to speak and there is a time to be silent, just like there is a time to preach and a time to eat”, he said. Second service as he so affectionately referred to it, was code word for lunch time. The stomach needs to be ministered to, too!
During 2nd service there was a woman named Miriam, she spoke better english than any of the other africans I’d met in a while, she worked with the UN on an agriculture initiative, and she was clearly pregnant. We asked her how long until she is due and she said, “two weeks”.
Timothy, the man who had brought Nathan and I to the church asked Miriam what she was going to name her child and she said, “Benson. My husband loves that name”.
Timothy commented on how nice the name Benson is and then asked if they had a name picked out if the child was to be a girl, to which Miriam told us her husband doesn’t want a daughter, which is why they only have a name for a boy.
Timothy’s rebuttal was, “Well what are you gonna do if it’s a girl?”
And then Miriam turned and looked directly at Nathan and I and said, “I know that everybody around here is a prophet, but especially you two, will you name my daughter?”
We looked at each other and then back to Miriam and said somewhat sheepishly, albeit greatly honored, “Yes”, and went back to talking to each other.
When we noticed that Miriam was still looking at us, I looked to her and I said, “OH! You mean NOW? Name her right now?”
And Miriam nodded and said, “Yes.”
So Nathan and I turned to each other, closed our eyes, and began interceding, seeking what the LORD would name Miriam’s daughter, and I heard God say, “name her Laurel, because she will be like a laurel to her father”.
I opened my eyes, looked to Nathan and he said, “Go ahead, it’s you.”
And I turned to Miriam and told her what God had just told me.
“Name her Laurel, because she will be like a laurel to her father.”
Immediately, she wrote the name Laurel down, committing it to memory.
After lunch we drove Miriam home, and within the hour she went into labor. A 30 minute labor, and the child that was birthed was a girl!!
A girl that Miriam faithfully named Taji (the swahili equivalent to Laurel).
It’s as if baby Taji was just waiting to be named, and once named she bursted forth from her mother!
Two days later Nathan and I went to Miriam’s home to visit and intercede for Taji, and while there the surreality of the moment really hit me.
This family, for generations, will not forget our impact on them. Miriam will always remember how her daughter was named, and Taji, once old enough will hold dear to her how she was named as well, and will tell her children the story as well. God, Nathan, and I are intertwined with the story of Miriam and her family.
How beautiful, and how needed this affirmation and shift in perspective.

The Outer

Tanzania granted me a new perspective on missions. In my life I’ve spent time in Trinidad, Mexico, DRC, South Africa, and Tanzania (this is my second time there) and I’ve always wondered, “Are we really even making a difference?
A valid question, given that in short term missions you’re there for a little bit, and then leave. How could you actually know? Of course, you take it back to God, and He says, “yes you made a difference” but for some reason there is still insecurity and disbelief. Only a slight comfort taken in the words of the Most High- with thoughts of, “if only I could SEE”
because, “seeing is believing”, right?
For me it was. Although blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
In Tanzania we were able to spend a weekend in Tarangire, a location I spent a week in last year.
We pulled up in our vehicle and the Pastor of the church we did the seminar in last year noticed and recognized me, greeting me with warm smile, loving handshake, and asked if I could preach in his church again that weekend, which I eagerly agreed to.
He remembered me.
This moment was the first of many affirmations I encountered in Tanzania, affirmations that had me truly seeing that the work I do, does matter, does make a difference, does impact the lives of those we minister to.
When we finally reached the part of Tarangire where the old church building was- a place where giraffes and elephants could be seen at night, poking heads through the windows of our homes-  one of the girls who had grown close to our team last year, Violet, saw me and came to me, giddy as one reunited with a long lost friend.
The warmth in her eyes was precious as gold, and welcoming as open arms. She asked by name of the girls on my team from last year, “Where is Kyra?” “Where is Kari?” “Where is Corrie” “Where is Katherine?” And she started to sing one of the songs we taught her “Sijui Ki-Swahili” which is a song we made up that means, “I don’t know Swahili” [LOL. because she actually doesnt. she speaks masai
She remembered us.
Our ministry was founded on relationship, and endured because of the relationships that we cultivated.
Such a surreal moment to be back there, to be remembered, and in turn to be pursued by them to continue working amongst them, affirmed of the impact of the work we do.
And now that I’ve seen that we do make an impact, hopefully I don’t question that anymore and I can continue in faith that everything done in Christ is impactful.

 

The Photos

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Nathan with Niwaeli (our translator) teaching on Joshua during our seminar in Morogorro (I joined the team at the beginning of this seminar, flew in from Congo.)

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goin to the city!  Ft. Nathan, Matthew, Cameron, and Emily

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Nathan, “Should we climb up the mountain?”

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Matthew, “HA. Nah, let’s not”
*Turns around and goes back to base after realizing he is severely out of shape and should start working out back in america*

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This is Miriam and her newborn daughter Taji. One day after a church service that Nathan and I preached at she asked us to name her then unborn child. We prayed and I heard the name “Laurel”. Taji is the swahili equivalent.

 

This is me holding Taji. She was 2 days old.

 

All the seminar graduates dancing their way to the front

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GRADUATION YAYYY!!!!! This is  Pastor Mark. He told me that I am exactly like his younger brother. He’s a great guy and he graduated woohoooo!

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Group graduation pic! YAYYY CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES!

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The gave us Masai garb, which is what is draped over us.

 

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This is in Tarangire, we spent a weekend here and it was amazing! During my DTS outreach I spent a week in Tarangire and these two ladies, Vi and Rafiki were close friends of our team. When I showed up in the village this time Vi came to me and asked by name about all of the girls who were on my team last year and she sang some of the songs we taught them last year. It was a tremendous affirmation that the work we do, even though we can’t always see the fruit, is fruitful. That weekend was so lovely.

JosiahandITanzania
I GOT TO SEE JOSIAH!!! He is Elisante’s (our contact in Tanzania) son and my little brother. We bonded last time I was in Tanzania, he is overjoyed to see me, and I him!

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This is Josiah, Jesse, and Joshua, 3 of Elisante’s 5 children

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After the weekend in Tarangire our team drove to a village called Leguruki. This seminar was smaller and a great deal more challenging.

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It’s not all beauty shots of me. Here’s me teaching on David and the importance of having a pure heart and clean hands. Ema, our translator is at my side.

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This is Mama Fadilly (Mother of Fadilly), she and her husband opened their house to our team. And she always encouraged me to shower. Because of her I was the cleanest person on our team. Thanks mama!

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Mama Fadilly’s family and our team! Fadilly is the boy, Debora is her youngest daughter, and her husband is the man in front of me.

 

 

The Poems

being compiled into a chapbook which will be available for purchase…

#SupportYourLocalMissionary
#SupportYourLocalPoet
#SupportYourLocalMe

 

Interested in financially supporting me? Follow the link! Designate the amount, and the frequency and wha-bam! You are one of my treasured supports! https://ywammadison.morwebcms.com/

Madison | Faithfully Awaiting

 

Sun Up Gold Sky Heaven Clouds Night Wallpaper Iphone 6
Nurture within me a devotion to dependence
this notion of need like that of  a family about to be evicted
with no refuge left but the snow covered streets
I am desperately aware of where I’ll be if you don’t come through
And I never want to forget how much I need you like water, food to eat, and love too
That’s why I swear to treat the clouds that cover heaven like an open sunroof;
I will see your glory unhindered

 

The Inner

The above is a prayerful poem I penned over the weekend, inspired by a conversation I had with my Aunt Linda. She said that church bored her because she could tell that a majority of Christians in America are unaware of their (our) desperate need for Christ, and because of this blindside we as a church are ineffective, and unable to ratify the world as we’ve been called to.
I wrote Devotion as a response to that heartcry of my dear aunt. I long to be dependent and aware of my need for God. How many times has He provided for me? I remember when I was in Tanzania last year my outreach team was asked to orchestrate a week long seminar, and we were utterly unprepared. We only had enough spare time to prepare that day’s teaching that very same morning, and most days God asked me to be the main speaker of our group(talk about being stretched!). Every morning I spent with Jesus, glaringly aware of how much I needed to see Him come through and provide me with a topic for the day and a body of content to fill it. The last day of the seminar I asked God a question I hadn’t asked Him before, “What will my notes look like today?”. And He responded by showing me a picture of a blank page. He was telling me not to have notes. Right then I was desperately aware of how much I’d need to rely on Him, even moreso than how much I relied on Him the days before.
That day I spoke to the church for a little over an hour and I felt alive! Electrified! I saw the glory of YHWH on display through His faithfulness to provide me a means to complete the end which He called me to!
And it is this notion of need
this devotion to dependence that my spirit knows it needs to carry within me.
I wrote that poem, meaning it, but not fully knowing what I asked for, yet even now as God makes me aware of other areas I need Him, I am encouraged.
Encouraged, for one, because God answered my prayer. He indeed is nurturing within me a “notion of need” and I am beginning the journey to being devoted to dependence on Him.
I say all of this as a sort of Ebenezer. A documented monument that God is faithful to His children.
A reminder that I need now more than ever.
This coming September I go on outreach with the rest of BSN (Bible School of the Nations) and I will be going to The Congo and Tanzania, each for one month. My team will be hosting BELT (Biblical Education & Leadership Training, a YWAM Ministry that partners with Wycliffe Bible Translators) seminars aimed at teaching biblical principles for ratifying self, relationship with others, and their nation to the pastors and leaders of the villages we go. The amount of money I need to raise for outreach is about $5,000.
Michael, my one-on-one told me that it is actually a blessing to wait on the Lord for greater and greater amounts of money.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
So here I sit, faithfully awaiting, knowing my need, and staking my claim on He who’s storehouses overflow, He who richly provides for those He’s called.

The Outer

  1. I’ve been in bible school for the last two months, and I’ve been thoroughly blown away. The things I’m learning are truly treasures.
  2. My involvement with Phos House and Spark are done for the rest of the year. They both ended fantastically!

 

The Photos

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Class time! Michael is teaching us from the book of Jeremiah.

MeTeachingAmos
For the last two weeks BSN has been hard at work studying the Minor Prophet books of the Bible. We were to choose a book, study it, and then teach it. The book I chose was Amos. This is a picture of me during my teaching of the book of Amos to the class. Teaching was such a joy! To be able to communicate the heart of God is one of my newfound pleasures.

Sparkies1stYear
From January-April I was staffing Spark, an Arts program in the Winter DTS (Discipleship Training School). This is a pic we Sparkies took (Staff and students) during DTS graduation.

LoriAnne (Left), Noelle (Middle), and Evelyn (Right) wrote and performed a spoken word piece. WATCH THIS.
Noelle and Evelyn were in Spark this year. Sooo I’m a proud father.

 

EmilyandI
This is Emily, one of my dear friends. Like a little sister to me. She was one of the DTS students that was in the Spark track which I staffed. She’s amazing and I love her.

PhosPic
With the onset of BSN, my involvement with Phos House comes to a close. This is our end of the school year picnic party!

KayakTori
Over the July 4th weekend two friends from my DTS Tori (top right) and Aishah (Top left) with her now husband Mark (bottom right ) and I got together to go Kayaking in Lake Menona. I’ve never kayaked before. It was great.

Assyria
Last week the Bible school took a trip to Chicago to go to the Oriental Museum of Ancient History to learn more about the history of Israel, the Canaanites, Assyria, Babylon, and Egypt. This is an Assyrian something-or-other.

CampWapus
I am King Wapus. We took a bonding camping trip last month. This is Ashley and I playing cards to pass the time. (I won.)

BSNroster
The whole Bible school on the eve of our Love Feast!

 

Prayer Requests

  • Right now, I could use a whole lot of prayer in the area of finance. As stated above I need $5000 for outreach to The Congo and Tanzania.
  • I need focus, to press in to the bible as we begin the New Testament.
  • My momma’s lease ends this month, she still hasn’t found an affordable house. Please pray for provision.
  • My twin

Mazatlan | Comin’ down from the sky hit the ground runnin’

17492343_10154716381014055_924777495276019825_oFully engaged
The world outside of their game falls away
that is why I wish everyday
to be like how the children in Montebello play

The Inner

It was Wednesday afternoon and I sat in a chair on the beachfront balcony overlooking blue skies and an even more blue hued ocean and thought to myself, “It’s time to dig in and write my sermon.”
I’d just found out the night before that it was I who would be giving a sermon the following day at a house church in a colonia called Montebello.
I was elated at the chance. Not nervous, and that’s because in Africa last year I’d given 7 or 8 sermons. In fact, I was so excited at the prospect of preaching that the night before I was quite restless and I didn’t get much sleep at all. And as such, I was dead tired all day.”
I persevered through the tiredness and finished my sermon, expecting it to fall between 30-45 minutes. I titled it, “The Father who Fiercely Loves” and it was about how God’s perfect love inspires new life within us, and me in particular. In form it was a sermon sandwiched by a testimony.
By 5:30pm it was time to meet as a team. I asked them to pray for me because I was sincerely worried that my tiredness would negatively affect my message and that in giving it, I would not be joyful, intriguing, or as captivating as one should be when they speak on how powerfully redemptive God’s love is. Cause I mean, it’s not MY sermon, it’s not MY message, it’s His that He has entrusted me to give to His people. I’m just the middleman and I want to do my job well.
My team prayed that the Spirit would fill me and that the very moment I would step foot in the house church I’d come alive, and Fellas, that’s exactly what happened. I was so joyed as I spoke to the church. So full of life. So energized. Honestly, I don’t know if I’ve ever felt like that before. I treat that experience as His Spirit speaking through me, and through that, God really revealed a piece of His heart to me. He loves telling us about Him. He loves being known by us. He is so dearly excited at the prospect of being known because He doesn’t long to be a mystery.

At the end of the day I laid in bed reflecting on my time spent speaking at the house church. It was a wonderful blessing. My mind went to David, one of the other staff, because after the sermon I had walked back to the base with him and asked him what he thought of my sermon, and one thing he noted was that I spent a lot of time on my testimony. And he’s right, I did. But I hadn’t planned to. I’d planned to breeze through the testimony in 15 minutes and it had ended up taking 30. And I attribute that to this: as I spoke, God kept bringing up memories to me, and so I kept sharing them. And perhaps God didn’t bring them up for the church, but just for me, either way, through giving a testimony which was more vulnerable than I had planned I truly came to see, much clearer, the hand of God upon my life. The redemption. The restoration. It’s all there.
And this ride we call life is not nearly over for me. When I’m 50 I hope to look back on a life spent like a sharpened blade in a warrior’s hand: ready for whatever He asks of me.
Mazatlan filled me afresh with a new dedication and devotion to my call through the experience of my Father who Fiercely Loves.
Mazatlan has inspired a fire.
And of course, when I say Mazatlan, I mean God. So thanks God. You’re good.

The Outer

  1. Last Tuesday was the last day in our Spark curriculum. It’s over! It’s been a blast! The students have grown so much. It’s an honor to have walked alongside them through this.
  2.  Mazatlan Outreach was a success!!! Pictures will be below.
  3. The Bible School for the Nations (which I’ve been accepted into) starts April 28th and runs until September 1st so I’ll be pretty busy in the coming months.

The Photos

IMG_6593Rancho De Los Ninos, a home for special needs kids in Mazatlan. We spent the day here doing some construction work and with the kids (See below)

IMG_6607
Keven and Mary (team leaders) posing for a pic on the job site
IMG_6648
David pouring cement mix into the pail

IMG_6654
Jon hanging out with one of the kids at Rancho, and Megan in the background hanging out with another.

 

IMG_6754
Different day, working on YWAM Mazatlan’s brand new Mercy Ship. (Ft. Hayley, Me, and Jon)

IMG_6530
Nathan, the grout pounding champion, on the Mercy Ship
IMG_6480
All work and no play makes for a sad spring break

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Panorama! We hiked up to a Lighthouse and interceded for the city of Mazatlan and God gave me a piece of His heart pertaining to how much He loves and desires to have the city for His own. It’s His inheritance, He said.

IMG_6510
In Montebello we visited the homes of the neighborhood and asked the kids to come out to play with us. We played some games, and then David taught them how Jesus can calm the storm.

IMG_6556
Pose! Megan, Hayley, and our lovely translator Claudia

mazatlan
Couldn’t get a good pic but we were playing Futbol

IMG_6749
This is the House church I spoke of earlier which I gave a message at

IMG_6740
Come on now, that’s just a good picture. We on the way to do ministry. JOY OF THE LORD. (And sunshine. And beach. And daily tacos. And cheap smoothies. Okay everything was perfect. everything.)

IMG_6714
Nathan gave a short message to a youth group! Ft. Claudia and Nathan

IMG_6560
When the sun too much for ya

IMG_6731
Team travel picture ft Matching Shirts & Goofy Faces

 

 

 

Prayer Requests

I really just need funds for Bible school. Outreach is in september, we’ll be going to either The Phillipines or to the Congo. I’m looking to raise about $3500 between now and september. If you’re interested in partnering with me as I live out the life God has called me to,
call/text me at 636-203-8077.
Email me at Matthewb@ywammadison.org

 

Madison | Goodness! Be…Redeemed.

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The Inner

The last two months have been jam packed with goodness.Although it has, at times been very difficult, I’m learning to lean more on my community. That’s how we were created after all. “It is not good for man to be alone“. Inviting people into my life is difficult by nature and nurture, but the people in this community are trustworthy, and day by day I am growing in vulnerability. I remember a few years ago a shared a poem I wrote with a friend. This poem was incredibly vulnerable. It expressed a darkness within me which I could speak of only in written word. Yet, this piece was a cry for help. I told her I showed it to her because I didn’t know how to talk about it, and she, in simple response, challenged me by asking, “Don’t you think it’d be better if you could talk about these things and not just write about them?

Yeah. I do.

God has largely delivered me from the dark depths which I was entrenched in for the last 7 years of my life. The pattern has been broken, and I have been freed, and like the girl who challenged me to speak then, God is challenging me now. He gave me a vision of myself in a prison cell (I like to imagine it’s Robbin Island, the same cell as Mandela. Or perhaps the cell from which King penned his letter from Birmingham Jail) and the cold metal doors slide open and I was free. I stood up, guilt replaced by hope, and the restraining shackles that tethered my feet to the floor of the 6 x 8 cell were broken. “I am free!”, I thought jubilantly, a smile radiant across a face which bore the heaviness of the remembrance of destitution.and I heard the voice of the Lord say to me, “Do not let your freedom be apathetic. You have been freed that you may free others. So, Celebrate your freedom! But empathize with the prisoner, do not neglect them, instead fill them with hope! For yours is a story which bears the mark of my glory. My holy hand is upon you, know me, and you will know goodness”

He has since, highlighted His goodness to me.  Yesterday I received a prophetic word, I was told that I am like David in that through my most joyfully jubilant highs, to the searing sorrowful lows, whether my tongue laments, or rejoices, I will cling tight to the essence of God’s goodness. And, I am not there yet, but I know I will be!

Another piece to this puzzle are the words “Be redeemed“. I’ve discovered in these recent months I tend to derive my worth from my work. But! I am not the prisoner I once was, there is a different path set aside for me now, and this path is not merely set in the realm of doing, no, it pertains to the condition of my spirit, my Be(ing). He has assured me that the Doing He has called me to is secondary to the Being He has called me to. Moving forward I will focus my eyes on becoming a man who intimately understands my worth is received from the blood of Christ which has freed me into a new life, and everything I do is an exertion of my newfound being.

The Outer

  1. The Winter DTS has been going strong for the last month, I’m part of the team running the Spark elective ( More info on what that is here ->http://www.ywammadison.org/dts/sparkdts/) . The 5 students who are in Spark love it and it’s such a blessing to be able to put on Spark for them. They came expecting it to be something else, but they have told me they are all pleasantly surprised by their experience of it. Praise God!
  2. I live at the Phos House which is the campus ministry branch of YWAM Madison. This year (and every year) Phos House does a mission trip  during spring break, March 18th-24th. I do not currently plan to ask for money for this trip as I will just divert some of the funds which I recieve every month to pay for this trip, although if you feel led to give more, I of course would be overjoyed and appreciative. The estimated cost of this week long mission trip is $630 for grounds fees and $700 for the flight, totalling $1330.
  3. I have applied for and been accepted in to the YWAM Madison Bible School of the Nations (BSN for short..we YWAMers love our acroyms).  The purpose of BSN is to equip those who are seeking to know the truths of the Bible that transform individuals and nations, and to enable them to effectively communicate these ideas to others. The BSN gives the necessary tools for students to build a biblical foundation for life and ministry. It seeks to cultivate in the students a deeper love for God and for truth, and to build confidence in God’s loving character in how He brings about His purposes in Biblical and modern history.  The school runs from April 28th-September 1st 2017. The cost is $3950 for lecture phase and $2500-$3500 for outreach, totalling  $6500-$7500. My current finances, over the 5 months of the school would allow me to raise $4250 (covering lecture phase), leaving a gap of $3250 which I will need to raise between now and right before outreach. I will be fundraising for this school, looking to add more monthly supporters to my current team, as well as one-time donors. If you know of anybody interested, please, ask them to email me at Matthewb@ywammadison.org or text/call at 636-203-8077.
  4. I was invited to perform at an interfaith event here in Madison called Race and Faith: Seeing Color. The hour long event was filled with storytellers regaling moments when they saw color. This is a recording of my performance of a piece I wrote titled, “Runaway Slave”.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PkB3FQehtDs

 

 

The Photos

 img_6046Phos House Staff & Students Pic

img_6090Celebrating Chinese New Year at Phos House

img_6038Game Night at Phos House

img_6067some DTS Students on Outreach Reveal Night..anxious! Locations are Costa Rica, Asia, and Romania

img_6199One of the Spark students (Evelyn) and I. We’re buds.

img_6151Just last weekend we had a Spark Retreat and one of the activities we did was encouragement based. Taped a piece of paper to our backs and others were free to come write something nice about us on the back. It was delightful, and so life-giving!

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We got face masks on our Spark Retreat!

img_6161My face bout to be baby booty smooth.

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I was in the newspapers (not for Race and Faith). Won some money. God is good. This was in January, since then I’ve dropped the moniker “Apollo Charles” and decided to be Matthew Charles.

Madison | The Butterfly Illusion

 

 

a Butterfly as

seen by a caterpillar

is a mystery

-Me

 

Wonderful and glorious as it may be, the butterfly is usually an illusion. I came to Madison, intimidated by the spiritual giants in my presence, and instead of shining as the light I was created to be, I shrank, and made myself small. I rationalized my actions easily.            “What can I contribute that they can’t?”, a question I cruelly tortured myself with. I found that the more I excused myself, the less driven I would become. And the less driven I became, the easier it was to excuse myself. Although that is not to say that those mature in the faith here have had a negative effect on me, no, the negative is spiritual warfare that I failed to recognize. This community inspires me, continually. Their dedication to seeking the Lord, and understanding His heart in practical terms has, by proximity to their flame, instilled a fire in my heart as well. My flaw was in gazing upon them believing them to be butterflies and me to be a caterpillar, when instead, truly we are all in cocoons. Not a single one of us is who we used to be, and we are also not the fully realized versions of who we were created to be. I find comfort in this.

It was spoken over me that Madison is a place where I will be able to lay down roots and experience radical growth, and as I’ve been here in Madison the past month I can attest to that. I am from small towns and Madison is the most diverse city I’ve ever lived in. The house I live in (called the Phos House) is home to international students from South Korea and Japan, which is a microcosm of the diversity on the University campus which is home to 4,000 other Asian international students.

At the Phos House our ministry is primarily relational. We spend time with the students, get to know them, host small groups most days of the week, eat dinner with them. Simple things that build up. Being that this month has been a bit disorienting to me, I haven’t been as intentional as I would like to be in building relationships with the students, but as I develop a schedule for myself I will be better able to befriend students.

November and December have been full of Spark Art meetings as we are creating the curriculum for the winter Discipleship Training School beginning in January. As a promotional tool for D.T.S. I wrote a spoken word poem and partnered with Kevin who is a pianist to create a beautiful piece which Spark is intending to use as a promotional tool advertising what the DTS experience is, while at the same exemplifying Spark. Last night we went to the studio and recorded it. I’ve very excited for this piece.

 

Pictures (I’m bad at remembering to take them, bear with me haha)

img_5495 Phos House staff meeting over scones and Rooibos tea

 

img_5526Making Meals at Phos House ft Maya (no longer with us) and Kizzy

 

img_5548Phos House game night!

 

img_5634 Recording a piece titled A Crimson Glisten Upon Ebony Skin (Studio f. Kevin and I)

 

img_5630Something to remember as you go about your month

 

Praise Reports:                                                                                                                                                  -Studio last night (Rom8:28).                                                                               -Hunger to go deeper into understanding our Father is at an all time high.                                                                                                                -Making friends, establishing support(emotional, spiritual)

 

Prayer Requests:                                                                                                                                -Overcoming the spirits of Intimidation, Isolation, and Intellectualism in Madison                                                                   -Pledged funds to come in                                                                                                                     -Artistic inspiration. Next month is the annual Best Of competition at the Cedarburg Open Mic I frequent and the winner wins a few hundred dollars. I could use that money.

 

 

I love you, and God loves you. Peace and blessings upon you.

South Africa | Remember

 

Never having left the hood I was raised in,

I have become a product of my placement.

The naive fearlessness of my youth has left me-

Replaced by a bold untamable hope. 

When the sun falls from the sky 

And the bright day fades into blackness:

The children rush to their homes..

The streets aren’t safe anymore .

I remember sand skiing and joyful nights marked by a father’s love and mother’s hugs

No more. 

All around me I see broken families: gun toting, drug addled, single parents perpetuating examples that’re cancerous 

I am the last artifact of a generation past 

And I am the architect of our future

(Remember) 

You are the future 

And I will build you up

I will fortify your walls

I will teach you love

And You will keep my words hidden within you like a secret code 

Hear my whispers and heed my roar

We are more than we are taught 

And that is why I seek The Source:

Because the heavens reveal our worth

•Remember•

Inspired by and written for Pastor Mark in Retreat.

IMG_4566Left To Right: Corrie, Me, Tori(team member that joined us in SA), Pastor Mark, his wife Felicia, Kyra, Katherine, and Kari

We’re all workers in the Kingdom. The question is, are we all working?

This was a question I found myself pondering over subconsciously in South Africa. But first, a little recap. My team and I traveled to SA (South Africa) after spending around 22 days in Tanzania. In Tanzania God taught me a lot about identity. He stretched me tremendously, as described in my last blog post. In fact, the prayer I had while we were putting on the seminar, which was, “God, name me, call me as you did Gideon, and Mary” was inspired by a book I was reading titled Army Arising. When God called Gideon, He named him. This name was, “Mighty Hero/Valiant Warrior” (etc depending on translation) and I’m sure that as Gideon was threshing wheat in the wine press, a “Mighty Hero” was the last thing he felt like, nevertheless God called him as it.

When our Father places a call on our life, it may not be something we can understand as of yet. Despite this lack of understanding, He is still faithful to grow us into our calling. Just as the feet of children grow into needing bigger shoes, so to do we spiritually, so to speak, grow. He named me, as an answer to my prayers. The name, for the purposes of this blog, is unimportant, but know that just as Gideon perhaps felt overwhelmed and underprepared to walk in the understanding of his new name, so did I.

One day I had a vision. In it I was shown two hands by a riverside, grasping up water and transporting it. I asked God for clarity as to what it means. He told me that just as the hands are a vehicle for the water to be transported, my words are a vehicle to bring spiritual war. The thought of this tantalized me. When I was young I felt like I didn’t have a voice. Like I went unheard. As if my thoughts didn’t matter. And here comes God, through a vision redeeming that false perception. Effectively saying, “Matthew, my son, your voice matters, and it matters a heck of a lot more than you even know right now.” Thank you Abba.

In South Africa I was challenged by our Host, Siyabonga to step out and share my poetry. His reason was that South Africans are a very poetic people and they would greatly enjoy it. I wasn’t nervous about sharing. I’m actually a fairly proficient Poet. I just didn’t know if what I had to share was acceptable given that the purpose was ministry, and when I write, I don’t write Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus Jesus. I write about the world around me and the world within me and try to tackle both with a biblical worldview. Telling the story of a young man who is honest with himself and his struggles. Anyways:

One night we were hosting a high school youth group in Retreat (A township mostly inhabited by colored people. Colored people are of Indian descent) and at the end of the night, the kids asked me to share some of my poetry with them. I shared one called This Fight with them and they loved it. I intended to be done, but I felt a nudge inside that I was supposed to share another. Seated, I looked to them and asked, “do you want another one?” And they all said yes. So I did. And in this one (Chosen) it speaks of Freedom, Loneliness, and Renewal. When I got to the part about loneliness I felt another nudge to look at a girl and direct- no, more than direct- to intensely focus every word in hopes that they would barrel into her soul, and she would keep them keyed up there, as a treasure of truth, once lost and now found. When I finished, the Spirit of intensity left me. They applauded, and our program was done. I was unsure if what I said to her mattered to her or not, I was unsure whether it was just me performing, or whether it was God redeeming.

That night during our team debrief Kyra had said that she had talked to the girl One on One and God had told Kyra that she dealt with loneliness as well. The girl cried when Kyra brought it up. This was confirmation to me, that what I had said was more than mere performance, but our Father trying to reach the girl by any means to comfort her, and let her know, just as he let Gideon know, that He is, was, and always will be, with her.

When I write, it is more than self expression. It is opening myself up to become a vessel of my Father. I become the pen and He becomes the hand that controls my strokes. Often times I do not know the significance of what I write. But when I share it, people are sure to tell me that it meant the world to them. This is, indeed, a part of my calling. And it stems entirely from hearing God, and going with His flow.

My job in the Kingdom is to be a mouth, speaking the truths of the heart of God in this crazy world.

 

now it’s picture time! (P.S. didn’t get many ministry pictures because we weren’t allowed to take our phones into the townships. Hope you enjoy the pics anyway 🙂

 

IMG_4286Squad(minus Kyra and I) Left to Right: Tori, Katherine, Siyabonga our Host, Kari, Corrie

IMG_4972   First day in SA I made Brai, aka South African BBQ. It was delicious

IMG_4257We lived here. Muizenberg. 45 minute train ride away from Cape Town.

IMG_4506When the Orange so good it got you zoning

IMG_4612Tori kicking a ball with some kids

IMG_4508Sinazo teaching us to make Justice Dolls (displayed at the right)

IMG_4362Justice Doll up close. Raising awareness of the tragedy which is Human Trafficking

IMG_4315After-preaching selfie ft me Kyra and Corrie

IMG_4558Kari, Tori, and Tim(South African bible school student) leading worship at Pastor Mark’s Church

IMG_4595“What did you feed me?!?! A ROCK???” -That girl

IMG_4641Kyra and Sasha. She’s a student in the DTS going on in Muizenberg. Those two are tight like pigs in a blanket.

IMG_4308POSE WITH THE CONGREGATION

IMG_4602Practicing her mommy skills

IMG_4968    Tori, Sasha, and I. Happiness

IMG_4531   Kari and Katherine doing the “Sin Chair” skit during the youth group I wrote about earlier

IMG_4974South Africa was a triumph.

IMG_4965#BasicChristianBeachAntics #Jesus!

 

 

 

Praise Reports:

God is good. South Africa was great! And I am tremendously blessed. Having returned, so many people can see a change in me. Glory goes to God.                                                             Also, lately with the socio-racial climate of the country I’ve been heartbroken. And feeling as if the local churches didn’t care. But last Sunday a church invited me up during the service to dialogue about what’s going on and bring a Godly Black perspective to it. It was such a blessing and many people came up to me afterwards thanking me and saying I clarified much and helped them see a new truth. Thank God for speaking through me!

Prayer Request:

I’ve applied to be a Discipleship Training School (what I just did as a student)staff in YWAM Madison. In the next week or so I should know whether or not I’m accepted. I ask that you pray that God’s will is done. If I’m accepted I’ll need to raise a lot of money fast, so, also pray for my own diligence and perseverance.Also, my brother is in a detention center awaiting trail for a possible 5 year prison sentence. Pray that God’s will is done, and that people of God can reach out to him no matter where life may take him.

 

 

Thank you for sticking around to the end, hope you enjoyed the story and pictures! Thanks for all of your support and interest in me and my journey with Father.

 

Matthew

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tanzania / South Africa |Ubuntu: I am, because WE are.

There is a saying and it goes something like this, “When I is replaced with We even illness because wellness”.  In the last 6 months I have learned the importance of community. I come from a loner-esque background and was extremely worried I wouldn’t adjust to being around so many people, but I was wrong. I loved it.

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(My friends and classmates the last 6 months)

Our Father taught me so much it’s made me question my whole life’s purpose (in a good way). My team, 6 girls; Kari, Corrie, Kyra, Katherine, and Tori went on outreach first to Tanzania for 3 weeks, and then to South Africa for 4 weeks. I’m going to tell you a story from each location. But first! PICTURES FROM TANZANIA YAYYYYY !!!

 

13234766_10154205528849570_1593599959_oTeam minus Tori headed to Tanzania. Left to Right: Katherine, Kyra, Kari, Corrie, and I (Tori joined us in South Africa)

 

13242202_10154207163669570_358349247_oSo we took pictures like this. Hi Tori! (Left to Right:Kari, Tori, Kyra, Corrie, Katherine, Me)

 

IMG_3625She shops in the Missionary Clothing aisle at Walmart.                                                             (Corrie after preaching on our first sunday in Tanzania)

13214914_10154207163099570_1088427608_oPlaying Bata Bata zinga (Duck Duck Goose) The kids loved this game!

 

IMG_3723 (1)Bible story time ft. Katherine in a school plus 75 kids not pictured. She’s working hard!IMG_3642
So ya gotta balance out the work with a little play! Katherine and Josiah, Elisante’s (Our host) son.

IMG_4219Brothers bonding. I love that kid ( On the way back from school ministry)

13262293_10154207149684570_1550446766_oStory time with Kyra! Elisante is to her right and is our Host and at times translator

13241651_10154207149844570_447140442_oSong and dance time!

13230787_10154205533349570_332470778_o 5 of the girls from one of the morning schools we hosted in King’ori (Tanzania)

13234802_10154207143934570_2102625001_o Five minutes later we turned that rock to pavement with a sledgehammer. And by we I mean I, but they watched so that counts for something, right

13234735_10154207146689570_1140362922_o(1)SMASH BROS. Fam? Smash Fam? uhh..   (Kyra working hard at Shalom)

 

13241674_10154207147254570_379394814_oWe helped out for a few days at an Orphanage called Shalom. This is Corrie with a few of the orphans

13225047_10154207146079570_1492315076_oTHUMBS UP CAUSE GOD IS GOOD! Kyra at Shalom

 

13234942_10154207143409570_1626299584_o(1)This kid is a treasure ( At Shalom)

 

13235066_10154207147554570_863922673_oA couple staff and a few of the orphans at Shalom (Karatu)

13223681_10154207140139570_56992393_oPraying for Momma Warra. She is the tremendous visionary responsible for creating Shalom orphanage. God bless her

 

IMG_3732   Hey lookie me and Josiah again. Right after I preached

 

13214540_10154207117539570_1806347416_oHappiness (After preaching at our seminar in Masailand)

13241526_10154207164419570_1316709004_owait a second..how’d this get in here…

13262324_10154207142739570_794572843_oPosing for a picture with Laseeka, a Masai man who is an Elder at the Camp of Blessing church we hosted our seminar from (also ft. Katherine, I, and Corrie)

 

13234690_10154207117139570_537802726_oMe speaking at Camp Blessing. Next to me are Glory,(Elisante’s sister) Elisante, and Bishop (the Bishop..idk his name so I call him Bishop..good guy that man is.. very humble)

 

A good 5/7th of our daily ministry was with children, hence the many children in the pictures. And while children were a huge part of Tanzania, the most impactful time was in Masailand, (the middle leg of our 3 weeks in Tanzania)where we were asked to hold a six day long seminar, preaching for two hours every day. It was very intimidating because before that I had only preached twice. In my life. And both times were the weeks before. God greatly stretched me by testing my obedience. Every day except one he called me to preach, and so I would have the morning (About 4-5 hours) to prepare my sermon for that day. It’s important to note that I was not alone. Kyra, Katherine, Kari, and Corrie were there speaking as well, but God asked me oftentimes to speak the longest. The 4th day of the seminar I was going to be speaking with Kyra. As we were preparing that morning I asked God, “What will my notes look like?” and He showed me a blank page. Now, I knew that He was asking me to go up without notes and speak, guided by His Spirit. I was nervous. I wrote a couple notes on my hand and when it was time for the service to begin, I waltzed up, quite desperately aware of just how much I needed Jesus to guide my tongue. That day I spoke for an hour, with no notes(the picture above is from that experience). I felt so assured, and so organically natural. With notes at times I felt robotic, unable to convey myself through the veil of paper I was using. But speaking without notes freed me. I’ve never felt more like myself upon a stage than in that moment. In that moment I saw that God wants to use ME. Not the carbon copy cookie cutter version of me. But the ORIGINAL me. The creative me. As I spoke I tied in many art references and ended up using art as a metaphor for life as a follower of Christ. We’re supposed to lead a life like we’re pioneering an art form: It’s brand new.  The experience was humbling. I saw in a glimpse who I am in relation to my Father in heaven.

 

Who am I?

I’ll write about that (and other stuff) in my next update which will be about our time South Africa.

 

Thanks for reading! And thanks for your prayers and support of me in my journey!

 

Praise Reports:

-DTS is over!

-I’m back home

-I’m figuring out what my next step is

 

Prayer Requests:

-DTS is over, I’m back home, and figuring out what my next step is. I need Father’s guidance and assurance.

-My twin is quite possibly going to prison for a couple years. Hearing in September. Pray that God’s will is done. And that whatever happens this becomes a season where he builds his dependance on Him in Heaven.

-My mom. Physical strength. Spiritual fortitude. Continued seeking of God’s will in her life.

 

God is good! ALL THE TIME. All the time, GOD IS GOOD. And that’s His nature WOW.

-Matthew

 

P.S If you’d like to contact me personally my email address is followapollo@hotmail.com