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World Changer Story
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World Changer Story
“Pastor? Can you help me?”
“Pastor? Why did he do this to me?”
“Pastor? What do I do with my son?”
The parishioners peppered the gentleman with questions . . . seeking his attention, his guidance and his advice. Known for his community involvement this man dedicates his life to serving others as he helps guide policies and guidelines in organizations throughout town.
Matthew Watts is a small church pastor in a small town in a small Southern state in the U.S. His life revolves around his family, his church and his business . . . pretty typical sounding, huh?
Yet Matthew’s life is a success story if I ever read one. Read how he grew up and you’ll realize it could have ended drastically different.
“Mama . . . wake up! I’m ready! Look at me, mama . . . I am all ready to go hunting. Daddy will be here soon and I didn’t oversleep. Look at me, mama . . . please wake up . . . He said he’d be here at 5 and it’s 4 but I didn’t want to be late. I’m going hunting . . .”
The excited boy ran out of the bedroom to sit by the front door, every muscle tense in anticipation of his “grown-up” excursion with his dad. Matthew lived with his mom and his dad was unreliable at best.
Matthew’s mom grew restless and uncomfortable. Knowing her son was in danger of being hurt, she saw no way to help him avoid the pain. Having divorced his dad several years previous, she knew too well the string of heartache and pain that lay ahead for young Matthew. Today would be no different, she feared.
The question loomed in her mind . . . “How do I explain to him why his dad won’t be here?” Love for her son rose strongly in her mother’s heart and she got up to wait.
If only Ricky was still here. Ricky, 7 years older than Matthew, had cushioned the hard world for Matthew. He had taught Matthew the skills boys needed to survive in the male world . . . how to balance a bike, to dive and swim, to pole vault, to shoot hoops, throw a football and hit a baseball. Ricky guided Matthew from wrong to right. He had shown him for a few short years how to be a real man. But now, a dark void loomed where Ricky had once stood tall.
“Oh, Ricky!” The silent plea went up to heaven in a sort of prayer. The mother’s grief and anguish nearly crushed her as she remembered Matthew’s devastation a few months earlier when Ricky died in a car accident. Five other people survived with no injuries . . . but her son and Matthew’s hero had died. So much in life didn’t make sense.
In the den, she could hear Matthew stirring . . . sitting down and getting up to look out the window.
Ten-year-old Matthew was dressed and ready to go hunting an hour early . . . the trouble began when 5 am came and went, 6 am came and went, as did 7 am, 8 am, 9 am, and his father never showed up. Never. Never kept his promise. Matthew’s dad only lived one mile from him and broken promises were his standard. Alcohol abuse controlled his dad and rejection was most often his gift to his sons.
Waiting in his house for a dad who never appeared, created tremendous chaos, conflict and deep emotional pain in this young boy’s heart. Although many other days existed in Matthews’s life where his dad broke his promises, this day was a turning point. The non-existent hunting trip evolved into a cornerstone event that would influence the rest of his life. As tears welled up in his eyes and spilled down, Matthew knew in his heart of hearts that both his dad and his adored big brother were never coming back into his life. No one, it seemed, was there to help him grow into a man.
From that heart-breaking day, young Matthew used both the memories of the man he never wanted to be and the role-model of his brother, to shape his destiny. Other men did come to him through academics, boys’ organizations, and athletic teams; he found examples of truly loving, dedicated males. Men that offered commitment, a helping hand, and who kept promises. And as he grew into a man, Matthew dedicated his life to serving young people through numerous youth organizations, his church life and his involvement in his community. He chose to give back to the surrogate organizations that had saved his life. He chose the kids that needed someone.
“Money can buy food, clothing, and shelter – and children certainly need those things – but love, compassion, and care, money cannot buy. They can only be supplied by caring men like you and me. This is how we repay the debt of gratitude that we owe,” states Matthew in a recent newspaper article.
I hope you are not like young Matthew . . . waiting for someone who never comes, yet I know some of us understand that hollow hurt very well.
I challenge you to choose today to be like Matthew . . . choose to be different and be the type of person who keeps his or her promises. Choose to let any past disappointments and hurt become the foundation for you to help other people. It is not easy to overcome the hurts of the past. Take it slowly and one day at a time. Matthew did and so can you. He carries his big brother’s legacy of love with him wherever he goes and looks out for those in need.
He is making a difference in his world, one child at a time. You can too . . .
Reprinted from “101 Ways To Change The World”…Ginny Dye, Author