i am who You say i am

The Inner

The last month has been hectic. COVID. lead actor in a film. George Floyd. Protests. Wrote a poetry book. Self published my poetry book. Articles started to get written about my activism and my art.

One day I was out with a friend who happens to be a crew member of the film I’m in, and she introduced me to her friend by saying, “this is Matthew he just self published a poetry book and he’s the lead actor in the film I was telling you about.”

Alarms went off inside of me as if I was a bank that was being robbed. BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.
I wasn’t okay with being introduced like that.
Why? Well, one reason is that I didn’t want people to look at me differently.

Recently, an article came out called, “5 emerging leaders in Madison” and I was 1 of the 5.
When I read that article I thought to myself, “wow, THAT guy sounds awesome.”
But…THAT guy didn’t feel like it was me. I said everything they said that I said, so how come I felt like an imposter? A fraud?
“I’m not THAT big of a deal”, I’d tell myself, “I’m not really an emerging leader.”

How come I not only don’t like when other people see me for who I am? But I also feed myself a narrative that breeds imposter syndrome? Can’t I accept my own success as valid, and real?
“You can’t be as bright as they say you are”, I tell myself. Even tho I know that since my youth I’ve rigorously pursued developing myself so that one day I could shine. This double consciousness- at once permissive and restrictive of my shine- wars within me.

Where I come from people aren’t encouraged to shine, it’s almost as if we believe there’s not enough sky for all of us to be stars. But, I want to be more than a star- I want to be a sun.
Why must we let fear rob us of our bravery?
Pillage us of the treasures inside- leaving most of us so barren we can’t even imagine thinking highly of ourselves?
Most people don’t have articles written about them saying that their “voice is one that everyone should be listening to.” and so, I, more than most people in my life am confronted with this reality of other’s estimation of me. And it seems to be quite lofty.
I know what they say, “don’t believe the hype.”
But, rejecting the truth about yourself isn’t humility. It’s insecurity.

In writing my book, You Can Not Burn The Sun, SHINE is something I wanted to encourage myself to do. The sun IS bright. It IS seen most days. In fact, without it, none of us would be alive.
I want to cultivate the kind of courage to allow myself to shine. To be able to say, and believe, “my contributions to this world are important.”

To that end, I’m learning to be like the sun. From now on, if people tell me I shine brightly, I’ll say, “i am who You say i am”
because who better to tell you of your brightness than one who is warmed by your light?

Photos

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.

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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

 

Do I really make an impact?

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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.

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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/

Faithfully Awaiting

 

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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.

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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.

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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.

 

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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

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)

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

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

 

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

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Nathan, the grout pounding champion, on the Mercy Ship
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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.

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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.

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Pose! Megan, Hayley, and our lovely translator Claudia

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

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

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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.)

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

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When the sun too much for ya

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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

 

Goodness! Be…Redeemed. (+BSN&Mexico)

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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.

img_6075

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.

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.

The Day Has Come

Tomorrow, I move to Madison, Wi, to begin my work there. My schedule has not been completely ironed out, so because of that I can’t tell you all that I will be involved in, but two of the main ministries will be Phos House (which I will also reside in) which is a community house run by a YWAM couple, openly christian, but the students who live there are not required to be.) And  SPARK Art, I along with a team of 5 other individuals will be creating an arts curriculum to be taught in YWAM Madison’s Discipleship Training Schools.

 

Prayer Requests:

That I may be steadfast and devoted in seeking our Father through any new trials presented to be in this coming transition.

For our Nation, after having elected Trump, there are a lot of nonwhite people that are scared for the direction our country has chosen. Peace…and reassurance, USA is not the Kingdom we serve.

 

Praise Reports:

IM MOVING.

 

Fundraising Update: I have reached $810 of my target $1,000 per month goal. Thank you to all the people who have partnered with me in making this possible!!!

 

 

(P.S. This post is short and sweet because I dont have much to update you on. When I get to Madison there will be better quality updates. That’s a promise.)

 

 

A Heart Like Cracked Glass

Ripples run through a heart like cracked glass

Broken

Is it too much to ask that

we retain hope

in these hopeless times?

Father spoke to me earlier this month. He said, “even in the darkest of times my Son still shines”.

In the midst of the tragedies befalling our nation I’ve been tending towards disillusioned. “When will this change?” is a question I ask with more frequency and more raw emotion than I’d care to admit.

My heart goes out to the people of our nation who have been victimized. And so quickly I want to demonize the victimizer, but I know this isn’t what I’m called to.

It’s love. Pure love. Non-possessive love. A love untainted by actions, and vast as the ocean.  A man once told me that Love in action is like a freshwater ocean after somebody sprinkles a pinch of salt into it. The ocean is so large that the little bit of salt does nothing. Yet despite this, my love at times can be like a 16oz glass of water, if you sprinkle salt in there you’re gonna taste it. And spit it out. Yuck.

He said, “Love your enemy”. And not with 16oz cup of water love, but with an ocean of love.

Dealing with injustice is difficult. Because you must have such a huge heart to bear the pain you feel. It’s quite like Limbic resonance. You feel their pain in an intimate, unfiltered way. And your heart cries out as loud as a mother’s wails who’s newborn child has been kidnapped.

But through this, it’s so important to remember that we are all One. One Body, under One Head. Those who are miswielding their power are also a part of this body. A part of our tribe, our flock, they’ve merely unaware. Yet still just as deserving of our love, and understanding.

We’re all human. And it seems we are in a race against our own base nature on a quest for something to give value to our life.

Identity.

We are children of God. “Of” being the key word. Our value is in who are Father is.

And every day I must remember this.

We’re one great big family. You are all my brothers, sisters, uncles, and aunts and the only thing that seperates us is perception.

So, my brothers and sisters, let us peirce the viel that we may be unblinded to our relation, bearing witness to the God within us all.

Donation Update:

I have raised $500 of my target $1,000 in monthly support. Thank you to all who have already partnered with me. And to those that haven’t yet, you still can!

Email me at: followapollo@hotmail  and we can discuss this! 


Praise Report:

•This month I performed at our local wine festival and a young woman came up to me after my set with tears in her eyes and told me how I had touched her and encouraged me to keep on sharing my writings. So that was great.

•I’m moving to Madison next month to begin my journey as a Missionary with YWAM. I’m psyched.

•My mother is in good health, which is wonderful

•God is Good

•God loves you (and me)
Prayer Requests

•Wisdom, motivation, drive, and an ocean of love for me in this new season.

•God’s continued work in the heart of myself and my family.

Future Update

Hey friends!  This August newsletter will be more of an update than the usual.

I’ve been accepted as a full-time Staff in YWAM Madison! (insert “yaaayys!” and “wooos!”)

A few of my faculties will be:

  • Being a part of the team that will be creating a curriculum for the SPARK Art  elective and teaching it during the winter Discipleship Training School.
  • Being on the Communications and Creative Team 

I’m hoping to move out to Madison in October and so I have started fundraising. I will be raising monthly support and my target goal is $1,000 per month

(If you wish to join me on this journey I’m embarking on, whether financially or prayerfully, email me at followapollo@hotmail.com)

13937879_10209057077561333_6312084285978592614_o
Freshman Class of YWAM Madison

 

 

Prayer List: This is a new season in life! Life is better than I thought it would be. Please pray that I continue to be God-centered. My mother is stressing over my brother and his situation right now, please pray for his safety and her peace of mind.

Praise Report: God is Good! (All the time! and that’s His nature wow!) I’m continually amazed by His faithfulness to me. I’m so very elated to be a part of YWAM Madison’s ministry and the fact that I also get to do it in my own artistic fashion is truly a dream and a prayer come true!  Also, my brother had a prophetic dream earlier this week and since the dream he seems to have found peace with his current situation.

 

 

Art: