Hi! We are Matthew and Lydia. We are Brazilians and we would like to share our story.
I grew up in a wonderful Seventh-day Adventist home. My grandfather was a pastor. I especially enjoyed Sabbath at my grandparents’ house. For Friday evening worship, we read from the Bible and sang. I loved the songs with hand motions. It was a lovely experience for me.
As I grew, my non-Christian friends influenced me. I began denying Christ by my life choices. Then, when I was a teen, my grandfather unexpectedly died. This shocked me. He was such a godly person. Through this sad experience, God led me back to Him and I decided to be like my grandfather — to fully live for God. So I began studying theology.
When I was twenty, my parents divorced. During this time, my Christian life became lukewarm and then cold. I began going to secular parties. For more than five years, I was not a genuine Christian.
I grew up in a Seventh-day Adventist family as an only child. When I was a teen, my parents decided to go to a non-Adventist church. I felt so lost. I went alone to the Adventist church. Then, a wonderful change came into my life. I began attending special youth meetings at church, which focused on serving others and showing the love of Christ. I made many friendships in these meetings and decided to give my life to Jesus.
In Brazil, there are big weekend events called “Youth Meeting with Christ.” You can only attend if someone personally invites you. On the weekend, you rarely see the camp crew who organize the meetings. They try to keep out of sight. There are many surprises during the weekend. The music, messages and interaction are excellent. People of many religious persuasions attend. Everyone has an experience with God at these meetings and many become Christians. When it has ended, you must not share your experience with anyone. Many people are curious, but you cannot tell them. They must experience the meeting for themselves.
Lydia personally invited me to “Youth Meeting with Christ.” I went. At that time, Lydia and I started dating. She was such a great person, and I did not want to mess up.
As a dating “couple,” Lydia and I began serving as crew members for the “Youth Meeting with Christ.” We coordinated many events, which showed us that we work very well together. We are complementary and make a good team.
Lydia and I decided to marry.
Matthew & Lydia together:
After our wedding, we began hosting a “small group” of about 15 people in our home. The “small group” was especially for people who had attended a “Youth Meeting with Christ” weekend. It functioned to build lasting relationships, help people grow in Christ, and show Christ to the community. In addition, it was a step toward inviting people to church.
The sense of “mission” energized us in the small group. We felt we must be involved in service to others. If God’s mission touches your heart, it is impossible to stay uninvolved.
At each small group meeting, we ate together. We connected like family. Then we prayed in pairs. We committed to staying connected during the week. After three months, many smalls groups joined together for an immersion weekend.
We also served in urban mission. We held a church in the park for local people to enjoy the happy Sabbath day with us. We aimed to show God’s love through our actions. After songs and a message, we handed out gifts to the people in the park and asked if we could pray for them. We also invited them to the church another week. Around 15 to 20 people would come to our church in the park. This was a bridge to connect people to the local SDA church.
The Youth Meeting with Christ, small group, and park church each molded our lives. As a result, we have a great sense of mission to those around us.
In 2020, we had a good house, good jobs, and everything we needed. However, we felt the need for a change in our lives.
We were praying to God, asking to be a blessing to others. We said, “We are in your hands. Use us.” We had no idea what the result would be.
God wants to hear this kind of prayer. Then He can say, “Oh, you are available? I can use you.” In both of our hearts, the desire to minister overseas began to grow. We did not tell each other about this at first. I thought, “Maybe Lydia will divorce me if I want to be a missionary overseas. Maybe it isn’t a good idea.”
I was courageous. I said, “Ah, Baby, would you like to be a missionary?”
“Really? This is in my heart, too! Wow! This is so serious.”
Throughout this experience, we had other challenges along the way. Sometimes we cried, but through it all, our faith became stronger. We are always learning to trust in God more and more.
We applied to Adventist Frontier Missions and are now in Northwest Africa as STMs (short-term missionaries) for about 12 months. So far, in less than one month, we have made good connections with many local Muslims.
For those considering mission service — do not romanticize it. Do not think it will be just blessings. There will be hurtful bumps on the road. However, the Holy Spirit will work through you. Put everything in God’s hands. It is not about you. It is God’s mission. You are just God’s instrument He can use. It will not be you reaching the people. God will reach the people through you. You are just a small piece.
As Lydia and I dream about our future together, we would like to have a center of influence to connect with people and reach them.
I want to encourage you with Joshua 1:9. “Be courageous because the LORD will be with you. If God calls you overseas do not be afraid. God will be with you. There is no better ally than God.
I would like to encourage you to just trust. You have to put all your life in God’s hands — not just some of your life. Give 100 percent, and you will see miracles. Then, get used to the miracles because they will happen.