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Thursday, April 3, 2014

I'd Like You to Meet...Matt Cook





I contacted Matt a couple of months ago to see if he could share his testimony on my blog. I'm so pleased to be able to introduce you to such a godly husband, dad, and friend. He is another one in our church that my husband considers to be like a son.

 I remember seeing Matt years ago when we were at Teen Challenge. (My husband Dave is now a pastor, but at that time he was a counselor at T.C.) Matt was in our front yard playing ball with one of our children. I had no way of knowing then that years later, he would be one of the elders at our church. Matt has a beautiful wife, Laura, and three adorable girls. He is one of the finest men I know. I believe his story will have a great impact on each person reading today.


Matt and his three girls


Where Jesus Found Me


Six months before being born, my father was killed in a car accident. My mother was
pregnant with her second child from her second husband. She had been a single mom
once before after her first marriage ended in divorce. Now pregnant and raising a 6
year old son she found herself in that situation again.

As little boys, I remember my older brother always looking out for me. Within a few
years of my father’s accident my mother remarried. My mom and her new husband had
a baby boy about a year later. Our new dad adopted my older brother and me and
raised us as his sons.

We were not a Christian family, but both of my parents worked very hard to provide for
us. Always supportive, they spent countless hours, days, and weeks at all of our
sporting practices and events. My parents loved us and did the best they could for us.

As hard as my parents tried to provide a good life for our family, horrible things were still
done to me by neighbors as a very young boy. The abuse brought much shame and
hurt into my life that I never talked about with anyone until I was in my twenties.

Our home grew less peaceful as the years passed. In junior high, home began to feel more
like a battle zone until my parents finally divorced sometime during my 7th or 8th grade
year. Instead of turning to family or better yet to God during this difficult time, I began to
turn to drugs and the lifestyle that music videos portrayed on MTV.

Even as a young boy I excelled in sports. I made varsity in baseball, football, and
basketball by my sophomore year. I had shoe boxes full of letters from college scouts.
I believed I would be a professional athlete one day because many coaches throughout
the years told me that I had what it took to be one. Drugs and sports proved to be a bad
combination, though. While snow skiing during my junior year, I injured my back in an
accident. Juggling the pain from my ski accident and deeper drug use, the reality of my
dreams seemed to be slipping further and further away.

During my senior year of high school I inherited $200,000 from my biological dad’s
parents. It was at this point that I decided if sports could no longer be my number one
choice in life, then drugs and living the “high life” would be my back up. Within three
years most of the money was gone, I had been arrested four times, and had basically
hit rock bottom. I found myself sitting in a county jail in Colorado facing 7-10 years in
prison.




That’s where Jesus found me. I wasn’t looking for Him.

A Hispanic man came to the jail one day and talked to a small group of us about “the
Lord”. The way he talked about “the Lord” intrigued me because he talked about God
as if he actually knew Him. God used this man to get ahold of my heart. He was talking
to us about what it meant to be born again, explaining that it is the Spirit of God coming to live inside of us. He told us that God changes us from the inside out giving us
righteous desires. At that point in my life I knew my desires. They were anything but
holy. I also knew in my heart that what this man was saying was truth.

Questions raced through my mind as he spoke to us. They were questions such as, “If
God loved me and cared about me so much then why am I a strung out drug addict
facing hard prison time?”. This man, unaware of my mental questions, replied to me
quoting Isaiah 53:6 which says, “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has
turned to our own way: and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” How did he
know to quote that Scripture when I hadn’t even expressed my question to him? I
intentionally asked a few more questions in my mind which he again answered with
Scripture. I recognized in that moment, God was giving me an opportunity to accept His
forgiveness - to be born again. We prayed, and life came inside of me. I felt clean. I
felt peace, and joy flooded my heart. I had a radical conversion in that little Colorado
county jail.

Shortly after, I was transported by the sheriff to the main jail. As we were driving, I
remember an excitement in my heart knowing that what God had just done in me was
going to change everything about life that I had known up to that point. But, never in my
wildest dreams could I have dreamt what my life would be like today.

Nearly twenty years ago in that jail, my life took a 180 degree turn.

My prison time ended up being shortened due to good behavior. After one year in
prison, I went to a program called Teen Challenge to be discipled. Teen Challenge was
a safe place. It was a place where men and women of God could teach me, pray with
me, correct me, and show me in very tangible ways the love of my Heavenly Father.
Through God’s love and patience, through renewing my mind in His Word, and through
repentance, the roots of my faith grew deeper and deeper.



Matt at his Teen Challenge graduation (with Dave Olson)



God saw value in me even at my lowest. Before being born again, I had been despised
by many and felt like I had hurt and disappointed my family beyond the point of repair.
The pain of knowing that was unbearable at times, but even in those relationships God
made all things new. Relationships with my family have never been better than what
they are today. I even had the privilege of leading my mom’s parents to the Lord on
their death beds ten years ago.

Throughout my nearly twenty years of living life for Jesus, I have had the opportunity to
be discipled at Teen Challenge, to be a student at the Brownsville Revival School of
Ministry, to work on staff at Teen Challenge, to do jail ministry, as well as go on several
mission trips around the world. I have had the privilege of seeing hundreds of lives
changed by the Lord. In all of this the thing that has had an impact on me the most,
though, is God’s unconditional love.

Outside of being loved by Jesus, the joy of my life today is being married to my best
friend, Laura, and raising our three daughters together. Being a father has really made me cling to God, learn how to be fathered by Him, and in turn trust that He will help me raise girls
who know they are loved by their earthly father as well as their Heavenly Father.

Following Jesus has not always been easy, but as I’ve trusted him and submitted my
heart to the process of becoming more like Him, I’m finding my true identity in Him. I’m
discovering the depth of His love. I’m experiencing the freedom and healing that’s
found in Him.

Revivalist Leonard Ravenhill once said, “The greatest miracle that God can do today is
to take an unholy man out of an unholy world and make him holy, then put him back into
that unholy world and keep him holy in it.”

I’m thankful Jesus found me.

Matt and his beautiful family



Thank you so much, Matt! 

4 comments:

  1. What a fantastic testimony! Thanks so much for posting this Kathy.

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  2. I love you Matt!! Thank you so much for marrying my niece's life and for being such a wonderful father to your three beautiful girls.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Love your testimony! Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete

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