Saturday, January 01, 2005
a story of perseverance
this first day of 2005, i thought i would share an e-mail that i sent out to family and friends on 01/01/01 . . . may the blessings continue on this January 1, 2005 . . .
Happy New Year to you all . . .
I was just printing out e-mail pics that friends have sent us this past while, and as I printed up the photo of our friend Matthew with his beautiful family, I thought I'd start off this year (01/01/01) by sharing his story.
We first met Matt in 1987, during our second winter trip to Arizona. He was a scrawny looking guy and Leo said he was drawn to him because he thought Matt looked like he really needed "saving"!!! Turns out that Matt already knew the Lord, and believe me, that was the ONLY thing going for him!!!
He was living in an apartment he really couldn't afford, no furniture and barely any food in the cupboards. Matt was trying to start "fresh" after a messy divorce that had left his bank account stripped - but more hurtful, his life empty without his two precious daughters. His ex-wife, for reasons known only to her, kept him from seeing the girls and then "disappeared" with them. Matt shared his life story with us over the next few months. It really was sad how he went from having it all . . . to having nothing but the hope that his kids wouldn't forget him. The only positive thing that came out of that divorce was that Matt reached out to the Lord, who had already been trying to get his attention for quite a while!
During that warm Arizona winter Matt hung out with us, went to church with us, shared our meals and Leo gave him rides every now and then - since his only mode of transportation, a bike, got stolen.
We went home to Canada and Matt kept on looking for work in the uncertain job market of the time. He did eventually find a job in South Dakota, at a meat processing plant. It was freezing cold in the plant, work designed for carpal tunnel syndrome (which he got) . . . and having the "usual" Matt luck of those days, he got robbed and beaten up, as well as slicing up one of his fingers quite badly. It got to the point that when Matt called us, we would automatically think "oh, oh, what happened now?". This type of life went on for several years.
We kept in touch . . . even visiting Matt in an improved lifestyle in Texas, where he put on a great Thanksgiving spread for us. He made another move, to the west coast, and spent vacation time with us in Arizona. His life slowly began to improve and his faith mature . . . but he still missed those girls of his.
About 4 years ago he married again, this time to a woman who had been a missionary for many years. She obviously saw some quality in Matt that made her change occupations and agree to be his wife. The Lord blessed them with a child and we thought "finally", Matt has a family of his own again. The Lord also restored Matt's finances and he kept on getting promoted at work until he is now VP of something or other!
It wasn't a downer to hear from Matt anymore (via e-mail). His life seemed to have changed 180 degrees . . . and the best was yet to be . . . which you may have already guessed . . . I'll share his simple little e-mail with you:
Hi, I have good news, my daughters that have been missing for 14 1/2 years called me June 25, 00. They came down for a visit two weeks ago and stayed for a week. It went great! God is good. I talk to them often now.
All is well with the world. I got a new job and will be moving to ********* this fall to take over the job as VP of ********** with 6 hundred employees. I continue to pray for ya'll and not a day goes by that you're not in my thoughts and prayers.
Take Care and God Bless. Matt
I don't need to tell you that I was crying after reading that note. We called Matt right away to get the full story. His daughters, who are young adults now, had retained good memories of their dad. Their mom wanted them to change their last name when she remarried, but they absolutely refused to do that. They had begun to search for their dad. Matt, bless his heart, had always left forwarding addresses at the numerous post offices during his many moves across the U.S. They just followed his trail. One day, the phone rang and a female voice asked for Matt. The woman peppered him with question after question, until Matt asked, "Who is this?" . . . she simply replied, "your daughter".
It was so encouraging for Leo and me to see Matt's prayers and the prayers of so many others on his behalf, answered. So as we start this New Year, I wanted to encourage you, dear friends . . . to keep praying, keep hoping, keep believing. God is still in control. As Matt stated "God is good" . . . and I heartily agree . . . yes, HE sure is!