Matt's Story "Come Back To Love"

I grew up with my parents who were missionaries in Romania. We lived in Germany before the wall fell and then we moved to Romania after that and lived there till ‘97 when I moved back to finish high school my senior year. Then after that I went to college and got tangled up in drugs and drinking real heavily for about 15-16 years…mainly cocaine and alcohol.

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During that period of my life I didn't aspire to anything. I was divorced twice through that time, which was mainly my fault due to the drug and alcohol usage. I always thought I was ok because I held a job, I had a nice house and a nice car…that was my justification to why everything was ok...but it wasn’t.

About 9 years ago, a tree fell on our house and crushed it, destroying everything we owned. The only bed room standing was the one we were sleeping in. Electrical lines also fell on my car at that same time. Everything else was crushed by a huge oak tree so big that we couldn't wrap our arms around half of it. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife), our son and I had just moved here, so I had taken all the money out of my bank account and put it in a box. That box was destroyed in the wreckage. We lost everything. So it kinda brought me to a place of not having control, and that was where my breaking point was.

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So close after that had happened, I heard that Bridge of Faith Church was having a service in the park. I wasn't one who would’ve went to church at the time, so the pastor invited me to the park for that service. It was then that I got saved at that service and then immediately I began to have goals, and aspire to things, and have plans for the next day. I just started hacking away at those plans, and getting off of the substance abuse. Then right away me and my wife (girlfriend at the time) within week of that happening started marriage counseling and then got married several months later. Then I began my road down recovery and I’ve been clean about 8 years now.

When I look back over my life, I would say that overall I feel like what I went through has been beneficial to what God has had for me to do since then. I have worked with the youth at Bridge of Faith for 5 years and now I am a recovery pastor. While I regret the things I went through, and might wish that I would have gone a different path, I am thankful for the experiences that I can use to possibly help others out of the same situation.

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I would say that one of the main things I’ve learned in life is that no matter how hard and how strenuous the circumstance is, if you have Christ to walk that with you, then that burden is not that heavy. We had a daughter that passed away and that was probably one of the hardest parts in our life. I’ve gone through a lot of things that have been hard in my life, but that was one of the hardest and I feel like if I was a non-believer then I probably would’ve taken my own life during that crisis. But through Christ and being able to have peace in that situation, I feel like that I could probably get through anything now with Him.

Most of my life I’ve been a violent, angry person. I would say one of my biggest struggles is anger. Earlier on, I just didn't have any love in my life and now I’ve got a pretty close-knit church family here and love, and when I’m going through something I know that people care and feel my pain when I am in pain. That is something I didn’t have before

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I’m not native to Rockaway so when I first came here, I got the impression of “Let’s get the heck out of here!”. That was just a superficial view of it. But now that I’ve lived here and I’m planted here, I feel there is a lot of bad things that go on around the area of Rockaway Beach but I don't think it’s anything different than what goes on anywhere else in the world. I feel like we are just on a different scale. We have a beautiful landscape and great people but we also have the same struggles with drugs and alcohol and abuse and everything else that anybody else has. I think that the world is broken and we all need to come back to that love. Rockaway is my part of the world so I just want to bring healing and recovery to Rockaway. That is my goal. I want to enjoy it here. I would like us to overcome some of the obstacles that hold it back. We have a lot of meth problems around here but I feel that we have made a dent in that and I would like it to continue that way.

My advice to people is to live life to the fullest. I live life to the fullest I think. I don't plan day by day, my wife and I just kinda do things on a whim, so if we want to do something, it's exciting! We try to keep it that way the best we can. I drive a Harley and I like to do crazy things and drive a hearse and all those stupid things, but I would say that living it to fullest can be so much more than what I used to think it was. I used to think it was just getting high and intoxicated or whatever and now I realize that I have so much more fun and do even crazier things, but without the mayhem of the bad that comes along with it.

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It doesn't matter what you’ve been through, what you are doing, or how bad it's gotten in your life. There is always hope and there is always forgiveness if we just look for it. We don't have to continue the way we have always done things. We can break the chains of that and become something different. We don't have to repeat the cycle. We can be made new.

 

This story is made possible by

 

Convoy of Hope / Rural Compassion partners with churches in small communities to help encourage them to work outside the walls of the church, by becoming a spiritually based serving center for their community. As the church begins to do this in their community, needs are met, hope replaces despair, and the light of Christ begins to shine brightly for others to see. Rural Compassion - Small Towns, Big Possibilities! 

We are partnering with 7 Billion Ones, because we believe that every person matters, regardless of their station in life. We also see the loving heart that Randy Bacon and this movement has for all people, and the way that is portrayed in his photography. We believe that 7 Billion Ones can cast a positive light on the rural communities through the impactful portraits and stories - these are stories that should be shared. People matter to God, and people should matter to people as well.