Saturday, February 26, 2011

Finding God's Will

My mom dragged me kicking and screaming to Passion '97 when I was a senior in high school. God did an awesome thing in my life that week after four years of drifting farther and farther from Him. I saw thousands of college students worshipping and running hard after Jesus and it made me hungry to abandon myself to Christ. I was headed to Texas A&M University in the fall and I'd heard how many Christian students were there. I'd heard all about a big - and by big I mean several thousand students - Bible study that everyone went to called Breakaway. Mom and I were walking through the arena when we bumped into Gregg Matte, the director of Breakaway Ministries. Mom introduced me to him and said, "Amanda will be at A&M in the fall!" I don't remember what he said but he was super friendly and I knew I would want to try going to Breakaway once I got there.

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.







36 comments:

Melanie said...

A friend of mine who goes to HFBC gave me Gregg's book and I loved it! So good. When I lived in Houston I loved HFBC - such an amazing, genuine church :)

StacieHope365 said...

Reading this post, I think of my own daughter and son(almost 16,13 respectively). I will also drag them to Passion with a van full of their friends. May The Lord guide my children in their pursuit of Him. This is the sole prayer of any follower of Jesus mother(oh,I forgot,to also have sold out for God spouses). I am glad you posted this,it is a mothers hope.

Holly said...

Awesome to have the privilege to see God weave! Central was our church...I wrote and told your mom once that she reminded me of Bro. Chris. He baptized me the summer of 1992 and is still our dear friend and mentor.

Praying as God continues to weave YOUR story. it is really His story...and it is going to be good.

Becky Kiser said...

What an incredible testimony! Such incredible people you have been lead by. I'm just about done with his book and am loving it and being so encouraged to practically apply the things Radical has challenged us with.

Rose said...

Amanda, my family and I have been visiting First since the Spring (we come from Lakewood) but after my two teens heard Gregg speak, they asked to come back...and back! I think we will be joining (formally) one of these days, we love Gregg and first!

Courtney (Women Living Well) said...

Wow! Thank you for sharing your story! This sounds like a great book I need to put on my list of books to buy! Thanks!
Courtney

Faith said...

Thanks for sharing. I got talked into going to Passion this year not knowing anything about it. It was the best decision I ever made. My heart and life changed so much while I was there. Thanks for recommending the book. I have been struggling since Passion on where God wants me to go, and what he wants me to do with my life. Thanks again! I hope you have a wonderful weekend! :)

Bobbie said...

It's amazing to be around Aggieland now. There are many young Christians on this campus and I love it. I sure wish Breakaway had been here when I was in school!

I just started reading Greg's book and love it. It's going to take me awhile b/c I keep stopping to journal and take notes!! HFBC is truly blessed to have him.


I've always said that you're one blessed young lady, now I read it in your post! What a heart you have!

Kelli said...

What an incredible testimony, Amanda! Thanks for sharing- look forward to getting my hands on the book!

Lina said...

I am involved in discipleship ministry at my church and am working towards certification as a biblical counselor...so privileged to serve God's people in this way! I just ordered the book for my Kindle and can't wait to read it. Thank you for sharing your story!

Rhonda said...

Oh Krueger... I remember those days, though they were a good deal ahead of your time. I found Breakaway my junior year and loved it. I only wished I found it sooner. Gregg and the entire team were such blessings to this young co-ed trying hard to figure out what she needed to do with her life. Or at least how to keep it from going in the gutter. Can't wait to read the book! I think I told everyone I knew who was going to A&M to go to Breakaway....and would do the same today!

Shellie Paparazzo said...

You really are blessed to have had those experiences. I sometimes feel like since I've not been in a position to experience things like that and because people don't take my faith very seriously (because I mess up so much) God will never be able to use me. But I know that is Satan trying to discourage me from seeking God and continuing on the right path.

Jeannie (HAPPY HEART) said...

I just love how you and you mom just bumped into Gregg Matte at Passion in '97. Its so sweet to look back at God's divine interventions in our lives. He is so in the details of our lives. May we never forget :)

Mary said...

I, too, was involved in Breakaway and am constantly thankful for all that I learned. My brother was a year ahead of me at A & M and had gone to Breakaway on Tuesday nights his freshman year and loved it. He took me with him that first year, (back when it was at Central Baptist,) and I'm so grateful to have started school with that imprinted on my schedule! I worked on the support team for a little over a semester-a huge disaster of an office help I was!) and got to work with Jenn and Melissa. They likely still remember the disaster that the small town girl was who sent wrong faxes often and hung up on people repeatedly! It was comical. Really, truly hilarious. I have no administrative qualities and I think I hoped I'd learn some working in the office. Wrong!! The girls were so very kind to me and all agreed to let me switch teams the next semester :) I actually worked with you on the discipleship team for one semester but didnt get to know you. Sad! I know I'd have found you as funny and warm then as I do now!

Wendy said...

Thanks for sharing this story. I needed to hear it today. Will be getting the book soon.

Big Mama said...

I love this so much.

Hilary said...

Ok, Amanda. I have passed over Gregg Matte's book in the bookstore several times, but earlier today I downloaded it from Amazon after reading your blog. I have to say that when Gregg wrote this book, God let him read my mail. And there is a reason I didn't start reading it until now... It is dealing with exactly what I am going through with my job right now. As in, a week ago last Wednesday was the day I saw something that looked like a bush burning but not consumed... ... ...
Thank you for the testimony. I'm off to finish the book now. :-)

Missy said...

Thanks for this post, Amanda! I, too, am reading Finding God's Will, and it has been a huge blessing to me! I'm still standing at my crossroads, waiting on God's direction. So, it's encouraging to hear from someone who's on the other side! :)

Alison said...

I loved reading this with you, especially since so much of it is my story, too! (yay dicipleship team!) How proud I am of our Gregg!

Becky - Adoption Ministry of YWAM Ethiopia said...

Thanks so much for sharing this resource and part of your story too. Isn't God amazing?

Darla said...

Hey ... I am thinking it was your "Curtis Jones" that was the speaker at Spark this weekend that my older two daughters have said was so good!

Kim Safina said...

Thank you!

Kari said...

I loved Breakaway! I will always remember Gregg teaching us the sign language to "I Surrender All". Such a beautiful picture!

Carrie Beth said...

Amanda -
I am currently reading Jen Hatmaker's Interrupted. I have thought about getting this book by Gregg Matte - now I have to get it! Thank you for always sharing your heart so openly. I look forward to hearing what crossroads you and CJ have chosen and to see how God uses not only you and Curtis, but Jackson & Annabeth as well.
Blessings,

Allyson said...

This is going to sound crazy, but I feel like this post was written to me. I remember going to Breakaway when I was at A&M and I LOVED it! I loved everything about the way Gregg spoke, what he said and the worship that went along with it. I have struggled lately with really wanting to find a home church. A few weeks ago I reached out to a friend (Tiffany - Sunni's sister)who goes to HFBC and told her that I wanted to try it out because I remember Gregg from Breakaway and thought he would be awesome to listen to again. However, I was just having second thoughts about visiting HFBC and this post is speaking to me and telling me that me and my family should go and visit. I'm really glad you wrote this. :)

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for writing this, Amanda. I've been at a crossroad and I believe this post was God saying "Okay. Here's some wisdom for that." Can't wait to read it!

Elisabeth said...

Thanks for writing this post, Amanda. I've been desiring some wisdom right along this line. I feel this is God handing me some. Perfect timing! I just adore the way He does that!

Kristen said...

I love this post.

Rachelp said...

Thank you for sharing with us God's story of your life!

Organize U said...

Picked up my copy today! Can't wait to read it! Thanks for the reference Amanda!

Ashley said...

I too am reading this book - it is wonderful!!! I am also a follower of the Big Mama blog and saw where she recommended it and it could not have come at a better time in this season of my life. Thank you for sharing. God bless you!

Ashley said...

I too am reading this book and it is wonderful! I also follow the Big Mama blog and saw where she recommnded it; it has been such a blessing - couldn't have come at a more appropriate season of my life. Thank you for sharing your story. God bless you!

Erica said...

How awesome to see God's hand at work!!! I can't wait to hear what you have going on! Love you, girl!

shalana said...

Ok, I've been out of town (in TX) actually for a few days and thought I might have missed some announcement. For the past few months I feel like you guys are about to announce some big thing and then it is gone...just a mere mention but nothing. Anyway, excited for you & whatever new adventure God has for you. I know you will share it here when and if the time is right. (Either that or i am just way off here.) I, too went to Passion '97 and also Breakaway while at Central. I vividly remember Gregg holding up his wife's favorite Gap sweater after he had so nicely washed and dried it! It was the size of a child's sweater by the time he was done "helping" with the laundry!

Kylie said...

I was at Passion '97 as a high school senior! (I was headed to Baylor instead... :)) That weekend is still marked in my heart and mind. Now my husband is a youth pastor and we're taking our seniors to Passion next month. I can't wait!

Definitely going to check out this book!

Lindsee said...

I was seriously behind on blog reading and am JUST now reading this. I know it's so late, but what an encouragement to read. After reading this, writing a blog post a month ago about "blooming where you're planted" that was very similar to this and curious about what's next, I know I so need to read this book. However, I'm not letting myself buy any more until I'm done reading my stack!

This was a huge encouragement, though.

Amanda, y'all are an encouragement and a huge inspiration to me, just like Gregg and Kelly are to y'all. It's thrilling to see God work in your lives.