Matt and Angela,
Grace, Anna, Beth, & Ella
From: Gibbon, Minnesota
Arrived in the Dominican: Currently raising support
Current Financial Support Level: 22%
I was raised in a home with two loving parents. We attended church regularly and were very involved. I was baptized as a baby and went through confirmation in middle school. However, during this time, I never read from my Bible or worked to develop a personal relationship with God. Through college and prior to marriage, I attended church sparingly, at best. While dating and after marriage, it was obvious my wife had something I didn’t have. I learned more about a relationship with God and was refreshed on the Salvation message. We attended church at times, but our differing points of view were a definite strain on our marriage. After our first child, we started attending a new church regularly. During this time, I think I realized I was not saved, but the body does not give up easily. It made me scared, angry, and very self-conscious. I learned what to say, what not to say, and what to avoid. Preventing myself from getting too close to God or being put on the spot was my goal. This went on for several years until it all changed during a small group with close friends. We were asked to take turns over several weeks and share our testimonies. It was then that I fully realized I really didn’t have one. A week later at a men’s retreat, I gave my heart to the Lord and was filled with the Holy Spirit the same night. I now have a salvation date of March 3, 2012.
I spent a lot of years working towards the American dream. Get a good job and work your way up. Get a house and have stuff. Try to get out of debt and work on a retirement fund. The missing items were joy and freedom. God has given me freedom to truly live without fear. Reading the Bible, praying, and small groups have continued to reveal God has a better plan for my life. Being able to share what Jesus has done in my life brings unimaginable freedom and joy.
As a fourth grader, I quietly made a decision to make the faith in Jesus that I had grown up surrounded by my own. However, my initial “yes” to Jesus’ saving grace would go on to be broken, restored, and built upon daily. Early on, to work through hurt and rejection during my teenage years, I chased perfection in all areas in an attempt to earn God’s love and hide deep shame. All this cumulated in a severe eating disorder and separation from God. The physical damage was treated. Yet, the hiding from God continued throughout college and early years of my marriage. I believed in God and all that I read in His Word; but I didn’t receive it, didn’t feel worthy, and worked hard to be ‘good enough’ on my own. I further isolated myself by not regularly attending a church. Fast-forward a few years and I was a new mom rocking a newborn one night. As I looked down and sang “Jesus Loves You” to my daughter, the words “I love you, too” pounded through my head. It is the most audible I have ever heard God’s voice. I surrendered all I had that night, saying “yes” to Jesus’ blood that covered my shame. From that moment on, I began to pursue God’s love for me. I found a church and met another new mom. Her invitation to volunteer in the church nursery and the relationship that followed completely lead me back to God’s Word, His truth. My faith was growing and I was baptized in 2008. During that time, my husband and I discovered the painfully beautiful growth of being a part of a small group of believers working out their faith. In those years, I witnessed God in so many victories. Yet, God wasn’t done. He moved us to Ogallala, NE. We became involved in ministries reaching out to those in foster care and young moms. These experiences scattered the shallow notion I had of God’s love. I was humbled to the core and broken. My prayer became, “God forgive me for chasing my own agenda. Replace it with yours.” This change in perspective led me to dig into God’s Word even more. It led to earnest praying for wisdom and deeper love. I continue to follow Jesus. For me, it is a daily decision to surrender, become broken, and fully accept the love and forgiveness that I spent years hiding from and trying to earn. I am excited to share this freedom and love that I have found and experienced with others. I am so thankful that God is faithful. As I reflect on the journey He has taken myself and our family, I see Him rebuilding, equipping, and using the struggles and trials in beautiful ways. All glory belongs to God!