My name is Matthew. I am 31 years old and am currently a college student in Bowling Green, OH. While I have grown up with a Christian family and spent many years knowing of Christ and having knowledge of the Bible, it is only within the more recent years of my life that I have truly learned what it means to live a life for Him. I have been in the military since 2005, and spent quite a lot of time not at all concerned for what God had in mind for me. Following my first tour of duty as an infantryman in Iraq, I simply withdrew further and further from Him. As my life spiraled into alcoholism, and the many other destructive attitudes and practices that come from such addictions, I became less and less aware that God still was not abandoning me, even though I had abandoned Him. When I came home I was not the same person who had left. I continued to drink, smoke, and live in a way that showed little hope of changing. Through all this, I met the woman who I would eventually marry.
We got married on August 21st of 2011. Then on January 17th of 2012, our daughter was born. Now anyone with an early grade education in math will probably be able to tell you that we were not living in an approved way before we were married. We still had a lot to learn, but in this time we had begun to acknowledge together that we needed a change in our lives.
Well, eight hours after our daughter was born that day in January, she passed away in our arms. No words can truly describe that day, I will not attempt to conjure any together. Suffice it to say that a part of us died with our daughter that day, and we were changed forever.
For the next few years, our lives were turbulent. At some of the worst points, I was on the brink of destroying our marriage. Through it all, I felt something pulling at me. I just felt as if there was some part of me that I had forgotten years ago trying to get my attention. One day the decision came to me…I needed to change. Something had always resonated with me that my pastor had said: “Good and evil are always at war with each other inside of us, and the side you feed will grow, but the side you starve will die.” So, I decided that I needed to feed the side I truly wanted to live with.
I began listening to the Christian radio station on my drive to school. I heard many different pastors give many different types of messages. Then one day, I turned on the radio and heard a voice that instantly struck me, not just because it was familiar, but because I immediately knew who it was. My father had listened to him and I had always listened along with him as I grew up. It was Ravi Zacharias.
Needless to say, I began exploring Ravi’s ministry and listening to his talks. I looked for everything I could find from his ministry and have spent the last two years learning from the speakers at RZIM. Through them, the Holy Spirit has changed my life in ways I thought impossible. I look back on who I was 5 years ago, 10 years ago, and so on…I do not know who I am looking at when I do. To say that God can change us is an understatement…God takes us and makes us a whole new person when we let Him. I have a long way to go, but I have the confidence that I am now walking that long path in the right direction. Even though I fall, even though the past sometimes haunts me, despite all that I have seen in my life…I now feel as if I truly have begun to live.
C.S. Lewis said that “Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” It took me a long time to realize just how deaf I had become. But through everything, God was not giving up on me, and at just the right time, He sent the ministry of RZIM into my life. I thank God for all that He has done for me and I am very glad to now be discovering this community. I look forward to all that He may bring about from this and I look forward to meeting new people and to growing and continuing to further serve Him together. God bless you all and thank you for bearing through my lengthier than intended introduction.