The message of the Gospel can truly bring two 0f the most different people together. At work, Matt (name changed) does accounting and finance for a high tech startup company. But outside of work, Matt hangs out with his friend, Tom (name changed), who lives in a completely different reality.
Tom and Matt met years ago at a Christian camp. Matt was a senior in high school and Tom was in middle school, so they didn’t interact very much. Tom lived with his grandmother who sent him to Christian camp. It was there that God brought their paths together. They connected a few more times over the years, and became Facebook friends.
Matt saw that Tom, no longer with his grandmother, was struggling with an unhealthy living situation that was contributing to darkness and bad choices. Matt cared about Tom’s situation but didn’t know how to help, other than continuing to connect and encourage him. Tom was a musician and shared some lyrics that were very dark. Matt took the initiative to get together with Tom. Seeing the darkness in Tom’s life, Matt went home and cried out to God, “Provide a new living situation for Tom, rescue him from the darkness.”
A week later, Tom called Matt and told him he’d been kicked out of his house. He assured Matt that he had some other options. Later, Tom called again and Matt invited Tom to live with him for a while.
The relationship quickly moved from occasional connection to daily life, with Matt providing support for Tom. No question or issue was off limits as they shared life together. Matt realized that Tom had never experienced positive interactions with a man who was older than him.
Matt reflects on the experience saying, “We were from completely different lives. I had grown up in a Christian home with a middle class experience. As I shared life with Tom, I had to wrestle with the Gospel. Was there really hope for this kid who had such a broken background? Can following Jesus really make a difference?”
Walking through life with Tom forced Matt to see a bigger Gospel, how God can transform people’s lives and use the broken parts of their past for good. And his eyes were opened to the reality of life on the margin, with issues of family dysfunction and poverty. Matt and Tom lived together for five months. Now, more than a year later, Tom is following Jesus and has also taken positive steps in his own life; he has completed his GED and has a job. Matt and Tom still share time together as friends.
Throughout this experience, Matt was in a Nav20s small group, sharing his experience with his peers. Matt’s bold discipleship impacted others, encouraging them to share the Gospel. “I was able to talk to the group about the brokenness in Albuquerque, and push them to be involved with people from different walks of life. I have seen that serving in the community also changes me, not just those I serve. So now I tell my friends that they are missing out when they don’t push across boundaries and take risks. We don’t have to move overseas to be involved in missions. This can be our mission, right where we are, making a difference in our community.”
Phil Ward leads Nav20s in Albuquerque. He encourages those he disciples to make their lives count for the Kingdom. Several men and women from the Nav20s group have started partnering with the I-58 Navs ministries in Albuquerque to help with a kids club and mentoring. They bring energy and enthusiasm to the kids, and also model healthy choices and living for Jesus.