"I was raised in a broken home. My father left our family when I was young, causing deep bitterness towards my parents, and many years of emotional pain and torment. Looking for some way to heal the pain, I turned to what the world had to offer. Though hoping to find freedom from this pain, I instead found myself bound by debilitating addictions.
It was in my junior high years when the bitterness so welled up in me that I experimented with alcohol and cigarettes as acts of rebellion towards my mom. By the time I was in high school I was looking for anything to drown out the pain and bitterness I was harboring towards my parents. Looking for help I turned to my “friends.” They introduced me to marijuana, cocaine, and psychedelic mushrooms. I indulged, because the drugs made me feel good and gave me a sense of acceptance by my friends. Not long after I graduated from high school I moved to Phoenix, Arizona. In Phoenix I met some new friends, who introduced me to black-tar heroin, crank, and crystal meth. I got hooked on crystal meth and within weeks I was blowing entire pay checks on it. This continued for almost one year when my sister sent me a plane ticket so I could return home to Milwaukee. When I arrived back home I was emotionally beat up, physically bruised, and financially broke. The next few years of my life were a blur as I went from one addiction to the next, one town to the next. If you would have asked me when I was a boy, what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would not have told you a drug addict.
All I wanted was to live a normal life! At the age of twenty-five I was in Milwaukee and working a good job, yet still looking for release from my pain. This constant seeking for a way to stop my hurt led me to a friend that introduced me to Oxy-cotin, prescription Heroin. He showed me how to remove the time release coating, then crush them up and snort them up my nose. It just started as a weekend thing, you know, just for fun. That turned into every weekend, and then every day in between. At the age of twenty-eight, only three short years later, I was a full blown addict. I could not go a day without snorting something. If I went any length of time without an “oxy” in my system, I began to go through withdrawals. All I wanted was to be free from this life.
I remember standing in the shower one day and just started to weep because I was scared and tired. On the slippery slope of being an addict, I wasn’t sure what was around the next corner. I wrote on the glass shower door that day, “CAN ANYONE HELP ME?” I was scared of death, because I knew that the things I have done deserved hell. That afternoon I felt a strong desire to go to church. I drove over to the local Catholic Church where I sat for the next hour and tried to pray. When no one came out to help I left and drove to a community church where I received counsel and began to visit on Sundays. My sister, who is a Christian, found out that I was going to church. On Friday, March 24, 2006 she called and began to inquire about what was happening in my life. I began to tell her my story, and she told me that my problem was not drugs and alcohol, but that I am a sinner in need of the Savior. I told her that I needed to clean myself up before I could talk to God or before God would listen to me. She said that Jesus wanted me just the way I am. She went on to tell me that Jesus was the only One that could fix the problem that I had. My problem was not the drugs; it was my sin that separated me from God. After I hung up the phone I got down on my knees, confessed my sin, and asked Jesus to save me.
March 24, 2006, at the age of 28, the Lord saved me from my sin and gave me new life in Jesus Christ. While still on my knees praising God for my salvation, I made a ‘deal’ with God. I promised Him my life if He would take away all of my drug addictions. At that very moment, He broke all the chains of my bondage and set me free!
Since that wonderful day the Lord has led me into the 'land of promise.' I attended Baptist College of Ministry, and it was there that I met a wonderful Christian lady, named Megan. We married in the summer of 2011, and have been blessed with a wonderful and growing family! Praise the Lord for a salvation that rescues from the eternal consequence and the present power of sin!
October 24, 2011, in a hotel room in Neillsville, WI, I was enjoying my early morning time with the Lord. While in prayer, the Lord led me to read Ezekiel 37:1-10. As I read, the Lord spoke to me about His burden for the ‘dry bones’ of Wisconsin. He told me that where many people see a graveyard He sees ‘an exceeding great army.’ As the Lord ministered to me in prayer that morning, it was very clear that He was calling on me to take up the burden for more than a village, town, or even a city. He was giving me a state – the great state of Wisconsin!
In the Fall of 2014, the Lord made it clear that we were ready for our ministry in Wisconsin. I finished school and pastored a country church in southern Iowa for almost a year and a half before our family moved back to Wisconsin in December 2014. It was during the Fall of 2014 that we were asked to pray about a church planting opportunity in Shawano, WI. As we prayed, the Lord used John 15:16 and Mark 5:19-20 and not only confirmed His leading to Shawano, but also increased our vision to nine more Wisconsin church plants. It has been a long journey since meeting with God in that hotel room in 2011 until this year, but well worth the wait. We are rejoicing in the opportunity to pioneer a Real Church movement!
For the past few months we have had the BCM church planting team helping us reach out and gear up. They have knocked on many doors, generated many contacts, and even seen souls saved. Also, the team has helped us design our logo and a gospel tract of my personal testimony. We are excited to report that God is still blessing our steps of faith in Him. We are currently waiting on word about a home purchase. If it all comes together we will be living in Shawano by the end of the month. This summer is packed with plans for Bible studies and outreach in our community. Please pray for the Weber family and the many who are taking the gospel to this city along with us.
Our approach to ministry and our hearts' burden is still Declaring Freedom Truth. We believe that God has used these past years to help us develop a greater understanding of Freedom Truth. We are praising the Lord for these past years. However, we are even more excited for all the Lord has for us in our future. Join us in the adventure of reaching the great state of Wisconsin!" Matthew Weber ('12)