Posted Nov 10, 2016 by Kris Eldridge in Missions
Fellowship is privileged to partner with Nate Mathis through the Refugee Relief Work that he does in Frankfurt, Germany! Nate is one of three families from Fellowship that moved to Germany to help reach the least reached among the people groups in the cities of Frankfurt and Cologne.
Please read below, from one of Nate’s recent newsletters, and pray for him and the work that the Lord has called him to do.
In an ocean of life passing through the ages, we can feel like tiny droplets hitting the surface. Our deepest longings betray our God-given need to know that our lives matter--for now, maybe even forever. Like drones or worker bees in a dark, teaming, noisy hive, we may find it hard to know, or even imagine that we make any positive, impactful difference to anyone else as we rush instinctively on to tomorrow.
But our Father knows. He reminds us that if we trust Him and do this life His way, we will indeed experience an eternal result far beyond what we can now know or imagine.
Following is a very abbreviated version of Luke's story within the grand story of God's activity in the vast sea of human history. In time and eternity Luke will tell the fuller version, I take this moment to introduce him to you. When you see him in heaven, you can ask him to tell you the rest.
His Yesterdays... Luke is an introverted 26 year old immigrant from Cameroon, West Africa. He has no personal recollection of his father, whom God removed from this life when Luke was just two years old. His mother didn't share much about his dad because, early in their relationship, they parted spiritual ways: she came to believe in Jesus Christ and Luke's father remained committed to traditional, tribal animism. The spiritual breach and subsequent death brought the family into chaos and eventually his mother to a place of isolation. They moved around.
Luke arrived in Germany with very little nearly six years ago, seeking work. Once granted permission to stay, he eventually found a job, learned the language and began living as simply as he could. A good start, but he struggled deeply with prejudice and an inability to believe he belonged anywhere. He was getting along; an immature follower of Jesus, he was content to send money home to his mother and younger siblings. Over two years ago Luke was dropped from his job, without explanation--a job he held more than two and a half years. He was devastated. Withdrawing into a deep depression, he believed the world was against him and God must be too. This was the Luke Father sent me to meet on a breezy, overcast day this past June. I led a team that day that were from the US to serve refugees. We'd just prayed moments earlier for Father's guidance to meet "at least one more person" He wanted us to minister to that day before returning home. Seconds later, we turned a corner and there he was--standing, waiting. By the end of our visit, I invited Luke into a circle of guys I'd been discipling.
His Transition... Because he lacked men to challenge and guide his life, Luke is what we'd call socially awkward. Although he did well in school, he has always struggled socially--never able to quite understand or get needed counsel to navigate many situations we might take for granted. Because he was depressed so long, he couldn't see the sad, angry person everyone else saw, when they looked at him. And nobody looked his way for long. Sensing clearly the Lord telling me to seek him and work with him, I obeyed. It's been hard--and challenging! Twice weekly, as we got together, I had to ask Father, what He wanted me to say to him, how to say it, how to break through the darkness and apathy. Hesitantly, I faced many of my own darkest times over again--some still painfully fresh in my memory.
Father brought me stark, raw reminders of hard, enduring lessons He patiently walked me through over a span of decades. I'm ashamed to say it took so long for me to grasp some of them with eyes and hands of faith. I saw in Luke myself and it was crushing at times. He, like me, knew and believed (on a less than practical level) many things from the Scriptures. Luke understood valuable principles from God's Word, but having no reliable guide, he lacked the insight, the wisdom to truly appreciate and live them out. I was, and he was, that spiritually impotent Ethiopian eunuch (in Acts) riding his chariot home from Jerusalem, reading the Word, his mind flooded with questions and images from the events just past. Alone, he had absolutely no way to get clarity. But God, in His infinite mercy, moved with compassion for his longing to have a deeper appraisal of the truth, miraculously and expressly sent Philip to him to help him grasp with his heart what he was reading. [Hallelujah!! Saints, I can't even write these things with a dry eye!]
For several months, I gave patiently, faithfully, and lovingly as I could, everything the Lord showed me Luke needed to see and hear from His Word. Slowly, he began to open up more, trust what he was hearing and reading, and take steps to work God's truth into his life. He'd failed and been wounded many times before in his young life. He is (as I am) still a work in progress, so I took him with me everywhere.
His Today and Tomorrows... Having prayed and practiced (for months) applying truths like...
- In everything give thanks! (1 Thessalonians 5)
- Be strong and of good courage! (Joshua 1)
- Watch, stand fast in faith, act the man and be strong! (1 Corinthians 16)
- Shall we accept good from God and not accept adversity? (Job 2)
- This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him. (Psalm 34)
- I will give thanks to the LORD...and I will sing praise to the name of the LORD (Psalm 7)
- His favor is for a lifetime; Weeping for the night...joy comes in the morning. (Psalm 30)
- We must through much tribulation enter the kingdom of God. (Acts 14)
- We glory in tribulations... we have a hope that will not make us ashamed! (Romans 5)
- He has said, I will never leave you nor forsake you! (Hebrews 13)
- In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us! (Romans 8)
- Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord, Jesus! (1 Corinthians 15)
... Luke has begun learning valuable lessons of faith + works. In turn his heart, his walk, his face is lifted up to God his savior. He dresses better, keeps himself better and takes (healthy) pride in his comportment. He is growing to realize that he has much more to be thankful for than not. In response to Luke's demonstration of trust and heartfelt faith, praying specifically, and consistently seeking to apply truth, Father has blessed him with employment, more relationships (coming slowly), and a spirit of trust and joy for being among God's people. Thanks to Bill and Vena Norton (who recently visited with me in Athens, bringing supplies from the US) he has a new, indexed ESV study bible. Thanks be to God, Luke is growing, walking, not dragging along in the Way, He is gaining a truer, stronger grasp on God's Word.
Postscript: Now that he's working six days a week, sometimes 10 hours a day, I don't get to see Luke as often. We usually meet or at least talk every Sunday. Sometimes he visits his former fellowship in the town where he lives, north of Frankfurt. I can't explain how much I rejoice to hear his awesome smile over the phone when we talk. He is young and there are yet many battles ahead in his life. Pray he never forgets the lessons of this season Father is bringing him through. Pray that he will let Father's joy always sustain him, and refresh that smile, no matter what comes his way.
Community Outreach Pastor
Fellowship Bible Church