Saturday, January 21, 2012

Prayer Request and More Changes

I want to follow up my ministry update letter with a few more thoughts and prayer requests.  It has been exciting to see God at work in my life, in Carma’s life, in our coming together and in the ministry here at Caribbean Mountain Academy (former Escuela Caribe).  Let me share a few specific thoughts and requests on each of these items.

·         As I continue to move forward in closing my time here in Jarabacoa and with Caribbean Mountain Academy (CMA) and preparing to return to Indiana to get married and live, I have been going through a rollercoaster of emotions.  Excited to be getting married and nervous about this big life change.  Sad to be leaving my home of many years and happy to be returning to Indiana.  Enjoying my last days at CMA and worried about finding a new job in Indiana (specifically the Wabash area).

Let me share a few specific prayer requests and needs:

o   I need a new job in the Wabash, Marion, Huntington region.

o   I need a car once I return.  I would specifically like a small, fuel friendly, used vehicle.

o   God would continue to prepare me for this new season of life, while also enjoying the end of my season here in the Dominican Republic.

·         Carma has been doing most of the detail work in preparing for our wedding and our life together.  She is also busy with her full-time job at White’s Residential and Family Services, where she works in the development office.

A couple of prayer requests for Carma:

o   Prayer for her as she continues with the details of the wedding.

o   God would be preparing her for this new season of life.

·         Carma and I will be living in Wabash.  She lives in and cares for the house of some friends who are missionaries in Belize.  Our address there is 422 E. Main St., Wabash, IN  46992.  Mail for me can be sent to this address from this point forward.

·         Caribbean Mountain Academy is going through a big time of change.  Our student enrollment is still low, and Lifeline Youth and Family Services is working hard to enroll new students.  We are excited to see the work that God is doing in the lives of our students.    We are looking forward to hosting the Goshen group starting this next Monday, January 23rd.

Prayer requests:

o   God would continue to reveal Himself to our students.  Pray that they would be receptive to God’s love and Christ’s sacrifice for them.

o   Pray for more students to come in God’s time frame.

o   Pray for the Goshen group as they minister on our campus and in the community.

Thanks for your prayers and support in this exciting time in my life.
God’s richest blessings to you,
Matt

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Answered prayers and changes‏

I will remember the deeds of the LORD;
yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.
I will consider all your works
and meditate on all your mighty deeds.

Psalms 77:11-12

As I write this letter I am thinking of all the great blessings that I have experienced during the past year.  I have had the privilege of being a part of God’s work in so many lives, whether with our students and staff at Caribbean Mountain Academy, Dominican friends in the community or visiting mission team members.  I have been involved in so many neat ministry opportunities, sharing the love of God in word, deeds and actions.  I have found the woman in Carma Cummins with whom I want to spend my life serving God and enjoying the life that He has given us, and to whom I plan to marry this spring.  I had the awesome opportunity this past fall to visit so many different churches that have come to the Dominican Republic on mission trips and that have supported me in my ministry.  I am so grateful to God for the way that He has worked in my life and the lives of so many around me.



As I have shared with you in my letters and updates, this past year has been a great year of change and that will continue to be the case in this year to come.  During this past year I continued to step out in faith away from my ministry as a teacher to work more and more with mission teams and community outreach.  I have also entered into this relationship with Carma Cummins, which was a big change in my life, after being firmly entrenched as a single for over 20 years.  And of course there are the changes God brought to our campus and ministry in moving us from being Escuela Caribe of New Horizons Youth Ministries to becoming Caribbean Mountain Academy of Lifeline Youth & Family Services.

So in reflecting on this past year of God’s blessings and changes, I want to share with you the changes into which God is leading me in this new year.  As Carma and I have grown in our relationship and committed to moving towards bringing our lives together in marriage, we have had two overriding prayers; God, when should we get married and where should we start our married life?  It has been in the past two weeks that God has answered these prayers, so here are my plans as Carma and I look to move forward.

God has made it clear that we will start our married lives in the United States, so on March 16, 2012, I will be leaving the Dominican Republic to return to the states to live and minister.  Carma and I are looking at a wedding date in late April or early May.  We will be beginning our married life in Wabash, Indiana, where she is currently living.  At the present I am looking and praying for work/ministry for when I return to the states.  We are very excited for this new season in our lives and would greatly appreciate your prayers for this transition in our lives.

It is also with great sadness that I look at leaving the Dominican Republic and the lives and ministry that I have been a part of here.  It will be a huge transition, as 16 of the past 21 years of my life have been lived here in the Dominican Republic.  It has been my home and life.



I want to share a couple of specific things with my supporters and the churches and groups which have made mission trips or are planning to make trips this year.  First, thanks so much for your support through gifts, prayers and friendships.  I could not have made it all these years without your support and encouragement.  Second, know that Caribbean Mountain Academy is still committed to working with mission teams and ministry outreach.  As I prepare to leave the ministry, I have been training and supporting our chaplain and his wife, Scott and Meleah Taylor, to take over the community outreach and mission team’s ministry.  Scott has been involved in ministry for almost 20 years as a child-care worker and youth pastor, and is very excited to be a part of the ministry of Caribbean Mountain Academy.  I invite you to contact me with your questions and thoughts as both I and the ministry prepare for these changes.

I close this note with a simple thanks.  Thanks to God for His guidance and grace in this new season of my life.  Thanks to Caribbean Mountain Academy for allowing me to be a part of God’s work here for so many years.  Thanks to my family, friends and supporters for all that you have done to partner with me in my ministry here.

Also as I prepare for my transition please do not send any financial gifts for me after February 1, as our system will not allow me to receive any gift received after this date.


Friday, December 23, 2011

A New Thing!

“Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
See, I am doing a new thing!”
Isaiah 43:18-19

As I look back over 2011 and consider what God has been doing in my life and the life of the ministry with which I serve, this verse seems to sum up the year very well.  At the beginning of 2011 if someone would have told me the changes to come, I would have listened in unbelief.  So what have these changes been?  Let me share with you the changes in my life during 2011.
In my personal life I began the year firmly entrenched as a single with no significant female relationship in my life.  I end 2011 engaged to Carma Cummins and anticipating a wedding in 2012.  It has been an awesome, exciting relationship into which God has brought us.  We are both committed to Christ as the center of our lives and of our relationship, and we look forward to what God has for us as we bring our lives together in marriage.  Carma was able to come to the Dominican Republic for a 10 day visit during this month and it was during this visit that I asked her to marry me.  As we look towards marriage, we would ask you to join us in prayer for God’s direction in when to marry and where to begin our married life.

The other major change has been concerning the ministry under which I serve.  As 2011 began, New Horizons Youth Ministries was facing the challenge of keeping the doors of Escuela Caribe open, as our student enrollment continued to decrease with the economic depression keeping families from being able to consider private placement for their child.  Yet, just when things were looking bleakest for Escuela Caribe, God provided a new avenue of leadership and support to keep the doors opened.  This fall our ministry came under the direction of Lifeline Youth & Family Services, Inc.  In coming under Lifeline, New Horizons Youth Ministries has ended its time as a non-profit ministry and Escuela Caribe has now been renamed Caribbean Mountain Academy, but the ministry focus of our campus will remain the same, which is to bring hope and change to struggling teenagers and their families through Jesus Christ.  Lifeline is also committed to the ministry of Goshen Mission House and its work with visiting mission teams.
Please take a look at the Lifeline website, which contains information on Caribbean Mountain Academy and the Goshen Mission House.  (www.lifelineyouth.org)

Just as God has worked so many new things in my life during 2011, I truly believe that He wants to work out changes, whether big or small, in our lives on an ongoing basis.  It is a wonderful paradox that we are new creations in Christ right now, and yet at the same time, God is constantly changing our old sinful nature so that we become more like Christ.  God invites us to join Him in the new things that He is doing.
Finally, thank you so much for your support, encouragement and love during 2011.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Mininistry Update November 2011


Isaiah 30:15 – “For thus the Lord GOD, the Holy One of Israel, has said, ‘In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.’”

Recently, my girlfriend, Carma, sent me a letter that included this verse.  I have pondered and meditated on this verse in the past, and it still seems to come back to me.  Briefly, the context of this verse is that Israel was looking to defend themselves against Assyria by forming an alliance with Egypt.  It doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.  Israel is being attacked and they want to be defended against their enemy.  The problem was that God had said that He would be the protector of Israel, but Israel was refusing God’s promise and help.  This verse comes in the middle of God’s response to the Israelites, as He tells them to prepare for the worst since they would not trust Him to protect them.  What is His reminder to them?  Trust and rest in me.  Turn back to me.  Be still and know that I am God.

And these same words come to me and to each of us today.  God has made His promises even more secure through the life, death and resurrection of His son, Jesus Christ.  As I share this reminder, I have to be honest and admit that so often I run around trying to fix what is wrong, control my circumstances and keep busy taking care of everything.  And yet, God’s words are whispered to me, “In repentance and rest you will be saved, in quietness and trust is your strength.” 

It isn’t my work that makes things happen, it is my trust in God that allows me to be a part of what He is already doing.  Yes, part of my response to trusting Him will probably involve doing something, but am I really stopping to rest in Him first.  Or do I scurry around doing what I can first and then ask God to fix what I made a mess of.  I invite you to join me in learning more and more what it means to wait upon the Lord; what it looks like to be still and know that God is in control.

---------------

It is the middle of November today and I have now been back in the Dominican Republic for three weeks.  It is good to be back home in Jarabacoa and returning to a normal routine.  Still, it has been a challenge to be separated from Carma by so many miles as we grow together in our relationship (see my last blog entry if you haven’t read about our relationship).  One great blessing for us has been our ability to stay in touch using skype on our computers.  This program allows us to video conference with each other.  So, not only to we get to talk, but we can see the other person on our screen.  It has been a blessing for our relationship to be strengthened, as we focus on just communicating with each other.  We are excited that Carma will be able to visit me here in the Dominican Republic for 10 days during December.  I would ask for your prayers of wisdom as we continue to make decisions about moving forward in our relationship.

Right now is our slow time at the school for working with mission teams.  Our next group to host will be the “Goshen Group,” which will be here from late January through mid-late February.  It is always exciting for me to have them here, as it is made up of many of my good friends.  They will be looking to complete the work on the second story of the Goshen Mission House, as well as help with projects on campus and in the community.  Please pray for this time that the Goshen churches will be here, that God would work in them and through them to share His love and bring the good news of Jesus Christ.

Finally, I just want to say thank you to so many of you that made my visit to the states a wonderful time.  It was a great time for me to share about the ministry that God is using me in, to reconnect with old friends, to make new friends, to visit churches that have made trips here, to build my relationship with Carma, and to enjoy time with my family.  God has been so good to me and my visit to the states helped me see that so clearly once again.  Praying for God’s best to you.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Vacation and Life, Part 2

I am in the end of week 9 of my vacation and time away to raise support for my ministry.  After over 7 weeks in Indiana, I am now in the southeast U.S.  I flew into Charlotte, NC on October 7th and spent the weekend with my cousin and his family.  I then spent some time in Georgia visiting friends and have now traveled to Columbia, SC, where I will spend the remainder of my time.  While in Columbia I look forward to connecting with a number of people and churches that I have gotten to know during recent years.  I was involved in hosting teams this past summer from 6 different churches in the North and South Carolina region.  Pray for my visits as I look to strengthen relationship, raise awareness of Goshen Mission House ministries and share my need for personal support.

Church of the Apostles group from Columbia, SC


I want to share about a special happening in my life.  Those of you connected into facebook probably already know, but I am building a great relationship with a woman I have known for many years named Carma Cummins.  We began this dating/courting relationship this past May.  Let me share with you the note I posted on facebook about how we met.

Press Release: Matt and Carma are in a relationship.

Carma and  I together


Since I don't want to write the same story a million times, I am writing this note to tell about how we met and started dating and pursuing this relationship. We have actually know each other for over 23 years. We first knew each other from our days at Camp Shipshewana. I was a summer staff and she was a junior counselor and camper. Now I am 7 years older than Carma, so 23 years ago I was 20 and she was...well, you do the math. I want to set the record straight that I had no interest in her back then. Anyways, she wrote me at some point early on in my time in the DR. We have written back and forth durning the years, sometimes more often, sometimes with years in between. Back in 2005 we got together a few times and went out, but it still wasn't the right time (I know that some of you might be thinking I was waiting to retire until I found a girlfriend, but that is only hearsay). This past winter I started having interest in pursing a relationship with Carma, but was very nervous of how to proceed with what would have to be a long distance relationship and how will this work. I have a group of missionary men I meet with that encouraged me to take the step, so on May 16th I sent her an e-mail expressing my interest. She responded affirmatively. And the rest is history...well, almost. I returned to the states August 15th for a break from my ministry in the DR. We set up some times to be together and just hung out, doing a lot of talking and getting connected. I hit a little hurdle as I faced the realization of commitment and got a little scared. With some good advice from my sister, Susan, and time to think and pray, I realized that I wanted to pursue and commit to this relationship with Carma. It has been awesome building and growing this relationship. Please pray for us as we move forward, that we would walk the path that God has for us, in His timing and in His way.
PS - Please send all further questions about the relationship to Carma...ok, just kidding.

Another picture of us together
(I just wanted everyone to see another picture of Carma, since she makes the photo so much better)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Vacation and Life, Part 1

I am sitting here at the Electric Brew in Goshen, Indiana enjoying some good lemonade and thinking about what to write.  I am on a break from my ministry in Jarabacoa and glad to be home seeing family and friends. 

I haven't given a good update of my life and ministry in a few months, so let me get you up to speed.  I want to publish my updates in segments, as I often take too long getting out information because I want to get it all in.  So here is Part 1.

KBM members having an awesome time together in Majaguita.

1)  Awesome summer of ministry and service.
With the start of the summer I officially moved out of education and full-time into my ministry with Goshen Mission House.  Over the course of the summer I was involved in hosting 8 different mission teams. 

KBM group hanging out by the river.

I want to share about one of these teams, which was the start of our mission team summer.  Our first team was connected with Kingdom Building Ministries and was made up of 20 participants and 3 leaders in their 55 day discipleship program called "The Experience."  The group was made of college age students and young adults up to the age of 30.  As they grew in their relationship with God and learned to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, they were presented with opportunities to walk out their walk with Jesus in practical ways and exciting experiences.  They spent 5 days with us at Escuela Caribe pouring into our students and then 5 day in the Dominican village of Majaguita sharing the love of Jesus.  Follow this link to hear more about their experience in Majaguita:  http://thelaborersinstitute.blogspot.com/2011/06/majaguita.html

Danielle, part of the KBM group, with her new Dominican friends.
I want to share a special story about our visit to Majaguita.  One of the male participants, Justin Wren, is a mixed martial arts fighter and has just come to follow Jesus in the past 2 years.  He is a big man at 6 foot, 2 inches and weighs in around 225 pounds, but has an even bigger heart of gold.  He loved being in Majaguita, meeting the people and bringing the love of God to them.  Early in our 5 day stay Justin met a girl with some major special needs.  She was 9 years old, but appeared to be about 3 years old.  She was physically and mentally handicapped, not being able to walk, talk or take care of her self.  Yet, when Justin met her, both their hearts melted, and God brought a gentle giant and special needs girl together.  He spent time holding her, smiling with her and visiting with her family.  On our last day we were able to share with the family about God's love and spend time praying for them and their daughter.  Though Justin could not talk with the precious little girl, he brought the love of God and gospel of Christ to her in a unique way.  Praise God.
Justin with his precious friend in Majaguita.

Three KBM members excited for their time in Majaguita.

KBM group hanging out in Majaguita.

It is awesome to be able to work with mission teams like KBM, helping them to be the hands and feet of Jesus in our world.  Praise God for the privilege to be a part of His body.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Preparing for a visit to the states

Hello to all.  It has been a great summer here in the Dominican Republic and at Escuela Caribe.  We have been very busy with our summer program which has gotten our students out in the community more doing service projects and helping those less privledged then they are.  I have been involved with a number of mission teams that we have hosted during this summer, working to help them get the most out of their visit.  It has been awesome to watch God work in the lives of us staff, our students, the visiting mission teams and the Dominican people.

I am currently making plans to be in the states for a while this fall.  I am excited to be back in Indiana and see so many of you.  I am also planning a trip to North and South Carolina to visit with many of the churches and people that made mission trips here this summer.  I have some specific needs and prayer requests that I want to share with you.

  1. I plan to be in Indiana from August 15th through October 7th.  During this time I am looking for a vehicle to use.  If you or someone you know has a vehicle setting around that needs a driver, I would be very open to taking care of it and using it.
  2. I want to visit churches while I am home to connect with those who have been here on trips and/or support my ministry.  I am also open to visiting churches to share about my ministry here, and the ministry we hope to develope between mission teams and our school.  Pray for me as I share what God is doing in me and through our ministry at Escuela Caribe.
  3. I hope to connect with many of my friends and supporters face-to-face while I am home.  Please let me know of times you have available to visit and catch-up.  I couldn't be doing this ministry without you.  Pray for me to be open and ready for the many divine appointments that God has in store for me.
  4. I plan to travel to North and South Carolina from October 7th through October 24th.  I will be looking to rent a vehicle while down there, which will cost around $500 for the entire time.  If you would be interested in helping me with this expense, let me know.

That is all for now.  Thanks so much for your friendship, prayers and support.  I am grateful for your partnership in my ministry of bringing the love of God and gospel of Jesus Christ to our students at Escuela Caribe and the people of the Dominican Republic.