The time finally came when I drove my maroon Mustang to College Station, moved into Krueger dormitory and lugged my maroon, monogrammed Jon Hart backpack across the enormous campus of 44,000 students. I joined a Christian sorority called Phi Lamb and threw myself into community with other believers and getting to know the Word that I'd been neglecting.
Breakaway happened every Tuesday night at 9 p.m. It was the cool thing to go to but it was more than that. It was a time to worship God and hear the Word preached. At the end of every semester, Gregg invited students to stand who had given their lives to Christ in the last few months. It was always an awesome sight to see. My freshman year Breakaway was held at Central Baptist and by my junior year it had moved to massive Reed Arena. Chris Tomlin led worship that year and the next year we had Shane and Shane. Can you believe how spoiled we were?
I met Curtis the summer before my junior year and as the fall semester approached, I sensed God calling me out of Phi Lamb. It was a painful decision but I felt that He wanted me to make room for something else. My friend Jennifer Hamm and her husband were moving back to College Station for grad school and Jennifer would be working at the Breakaway office. Jenn had met with me a few times before I came to A&M and she is the reason I ever joined Phi Lamb. Jennifer, Kelly Matte, and Melissa Stone - the three Breakaway ladies - were all going to lead discipleship groups that year and Jenn invited me to be one of the four girls in hers. I knew this is what God was having me make room for. It ended up being a life changing experience for me.
Breakaway was taking a group of their volunteers to Venezuela for a mission trip over spring break. Jenn knew I loved Spanish and invited me and Curtis to come along. The only problem was I wasn't a volunteer! So, literally, I joined the volunteer team so I could go on this trip. Ha! After going through the application process, I was invited to join the discipleship team. This was the group of students who talked and prayed with people who came down during the invitation and helped disciple the students who gave their lives to Christ. I loved, loved, loved being a part of that team.
Our team worked closely with Gregg and that's how Curtis and I got to know him. Our Venezuela trip was amazing and I realize now how blessed all of us students were to have the kind of leaders we had pouring into us that week. Curtis and I came home from that trip knowing that we would marry and serve God together for the rest of our lives.
The next semester I was invited to be the female co-leader of the discipleship team. I got to work with a great guy named Patrick Blocker, who now serves at Watermark Church in Dallas, and later the amazing and stupendous Andy Barner from Austin, Texas. I think that was one of the first times I had been a leader of anything. I am telling you all of this because in a really big way, Gregg Matte helped shape and train me for ministry. When I came on staff at LPM, my mom thanked him for giving me that experience so that her own daughter had a little more credibility!
During the year that I co-led that group, I got to see how Gregg lived his life close-up. He and Kelly were genuine lovers of God, of each other, of students, and of their new baby boy. They were fun to be around but serious about Jesus. They were the unofficial shepherds of our student body, which must have been a tremendous weight on their shoulders. When we went through horrible seasons like the fall of bonfire and September 11, 2001, Gregg's leadership was a huge comfort to everyone.
My home church, Houston's First Baptist, was without a pastor and in an interim period the entire time I was in college. Gregg was invited to preach there on a number of Sundays. He did a fantastic job and everyone responded really well to him. I'm sure he doesn't remember this, but one day I told him, "Gregg, you should be our pastor!" He laughed and said that he should probably start with a smaller church first.
Curtis and I were already in England when we heard the news that Gregg was being called as our home church's senior pastor. We were so excited! It was not God's plan for us to return home to HFBC after England, but we kept up with everything going on down there when we were in Irving.
When we moved back to Houston three years ago, we were excited to sit under Pastor Gregg and be a part of our old church again. I am so proud of Gregg and Kelly for how they have allowed God to use their lives for His glory. They are shepherding our church with such wisdom, strength, love, humility, and Spirit-given power.
Gregg has walked with Curtis and me through some of the biggest crises we have faced in our marriage. I type those words soberly and gratefully. His support in the mountains, valleys and ravines has meant more than I can say. We have been at a crossroads for the last year and he has been quick to encourage us as we seek God's will. This was rather ironic timing because Gregg spent that year writing a book called Finding God's Will.
One of the coolest moments of 2010 was buying the book in our church's bookstore and taking it to him to have it signed. It was a weighty moment and all I could think to say was, "This is the real deal, Pastor!" I am so proud of Gregg and everything God has used him to do. This book is going to be a great help to the body of Christ.
When I started the book, we had already chosen which direction to take at our crossroads. But I was having many "Are we crazy? Is this possible?" thoughts at the time. Finding God's Will helped settle the issue in my heart and it encouraged me to keep moving forward. I was also really blessed to read Gregg and Kelly's story within the pages. I only wish Gregg had cited my incredible knowledge of God's will when I told him he should be HFBC's pastor. I mean, clearly I was onto something!
Thank you for everything, Pastor Gregg and Kelly. Curtis and I are your biggest fans.
*You can get a copy of Finding God's Will: Seek Him, Know Him, Take the Next Step online here.