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Thursday, May 19, 2022

Just A Small Town Boy Continued…

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Part 2

The rains were pouring in.  It wasn’t stopping. 

Cyclone Idai had hit in the Beira area on March 14th, and waters were now way over head high. Homes were destroyed.  Matt couldn’t help but to stay glued to the news trying to see what might be headed their way.  It was being predicted that another cyclone was soon headed their way again. So much devastation was already taking place that Matt and Andrea couldn’t imagine more.

Over 70,000 people had been impacted from the tropical cyclone.  Homes, which were mainly made of mud in the village on Ibo Island, were almost completely wiped out.  In some places, homes were completely swept away, and bridges were ripped to pieces.  Some roads were completely swallowed up by massive sinkholes. It was devastating everywhere you looked.  Matt and Andrea knew they had to help.  Seven of their student leaders that lived in Beira were in danger.  

“The scale of damage…(in) Beira is massive and horrifying,” the International Foundation of Red Cross and Red Cresencet Societies said. 

More than 150 people were missing in neighboring Zimbabwe.  All phone lines were down and electricity was out, so there was no way Andrea could reach any of their students to see if they were ok or even alive. All they could do is pray. Priscilla, one of their students who lived in the heart of where the cyclone took place, was one student they were very concerned about yet there was no way to reach her. Matt and Andrea continued to pray and seek God’s direction on what to do.

News reports stated people in cities were trapped under boulders and in their homes.  People were crying and begging for help.  Some were clinging to trees for safety.  No electricity within the cyclone damaged area was to be found.  Kids lost their parents.  Others were on their roofs waiting for help to come. No clean water to drink even though water was everywhere, and they stayed thirsty for days. Parents lost their children.  People had not eaten in days, and their stomachs ached with pains longing for food.  The suffering was unimaginable.   The death toll was rising to over 500 people. It was getting harder and harder for Andrea to watch the news knowing so many of their friends that they had made along the way were going through so much just a few miles away. 

More rain was predicted as well as cyclone Kenneth on it’s path to hit next. Reports were coming in that Cyclone Idai was the strongest cyclone on record to hit in the Southern Hemisphere. Many villages were impossible to access due to the damages of the cyclone and the flooding.  When the water level lowered, Matt knew it was time to help.  It was crucial that they go at the right time with the water levels dropping. Time was ticking with lives in waiting. With the help of Convoy of Hope, a helicopter and crew picked Matt up for their first mission to help.  Nothing could have prepared him of what he was about to see.

Matt boarded the helicopter, and they made the trip to the village.  Matt looked down from the window, and there he saw hundreds of starving people.  Matt lowered himself down from the helicopter to a crowd of over 400 people who were curious, devastated, hopeless, and starving.  The people waiting had spent over four days in trees and hadn’t eaten in almost two weeks.   There he stood, alone, with people who were in desperate need of help.  The helicopter then lowered by net the food and supplies to the village.  The crew made trip after trip to the village were Matt was waiting.  More supplies and more food kept coming, and as Matt waited for each delivery, he stood and listened to their devastating stories for hours.  Heartbroken for these people, Matt began to speak about the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Three different times, Matt preached to the crowds and shared his testimony.  As he spoke, the crowds grew larger and larger.  People weren’t just physically hungry.  They began to realize that there was a spiritual hunger inside them that they did not know even existed.  The people were amazed how a rich, young American who had everything could still need a Savior named Jesus. 

The flood waters reached so high that you can see the height of the water levels pictured above the school door where there is a faint water line.
Water levels reached to right above the word “Mudala” in the picture above.

As Matt continued to share his heart with the people, they began to surrender their lives to Jesus.  Over 100 people accepted Christ!  The chief of the region said, “There is no church in our area.”  He begged Matt to come back and plant a tree.  These people began to thirst for so much more than just regular water.  They wanted more of Jesus, the living water of life!

Hundreds of people waited for food as they were starving and stranded with no homes.

Isn’t it amazing how God works in the midst of tragedy?  The people of Africa were hit by the horrible tropical Cyclone Idai that reports the death toll of over 800 people and the flooding of both cyclones that hit within a month apart affected together nearly 3 million people!  They experienced so much devastation that most of us in our lifetime will never have to endure.  Yet, not only did they cling to trees, but they clung to hope that someone would save them.  Matt was able to lead over 100 people to Jesus because he had faith that God can do anything.  Andrea said, “God can’t help but to create something beautiful from tragedy.  He amazes me always.”  Isn’t this so true? The water being delivered to these hurting people was their own GodWink moment! They thought life was over. Some of the people were ready to give up, but God wasn’t finished yet! Matt was just a small-town boy from Arkansas that God used for BIG TIME Miracles!

There was a young boy in the bible named David.  He was faced with a challenge, a challenge no one else wanted to take on.  Goliath, a gigantic Philistine man, had taunted the Israelites for days.  He would not let them have their land.  He told the Israelites that they had to get past him first.  However, no one wanted to step up to fight this giant man.  They knew they would instantly fail.  One day, David’s father sent him to deliver lunch and to check on his older brothers who were camping with the Israelite armies.  When David arrived and saw what was going on, he could not believe no one would fight Goliath.  David was just a small-town boy, but he was willing to accept the challenge for a BIG TIME Miracle. 

Goliath laughed at David willing to fight him.  Even his own brothers tried to discourage him. The King tried to help David out.  He told him not to fight the giant.  He told him he was too young and too small.  He even offered him armor to wear, but David told him no.  He could hardly move when he put all the armor on.  He peeled it back off and told King Saul, “I can’t move with all this stuff on.  I’m just not use to it.”  David knew the battle wasn’t his. The battle was God’s.  David gathered five smooth stones from a nearby brook and returned to face the giant.  With just a sling shot and only one of his stones, David killed Goliath.  No one could believe it.  This small-town boy defeated the GIANT simply because he believed God could do the impossible!

Do you have a GIANT in your life?  Do you have a problem that seems like there is no answer and there is only devastation?  Are you waiting for your deliverance like those in Africa suffering from the cyclone?  Do you feel like there are stormy waters all around you? Give it all to God.  It’s not your giant to fight alone.  With God, all things are possible.  Don’t get discouraged.  If God can use a small shepherd boy to defeat a gigantic man, if God can use a small-town boy from Arkansas to preach the gospel to hundreds of starving people in Africa, if God can use me from a messed-up past, then God can use you!  God is no respecter of persons.  He does not care what your background is, and He does not care what you have failed at.  God cares about your future.  He cares about where you are at this very moment.  He wants you to start fresh.  So, don’t be discouraged.  If you feel like David, and you can’t move because you are so burdened down or you just can’t take that first step forward to change, just know you can! It’s hard, but you can!  Are you a small-town boy waiting for a BIG-time miracle? Do you feel like the people in Africa who felt defeated and you’ve waited for days for help? Give it to God and realize you have someone in your corner.  God is there for you!    You may think it is impossible, but God looks down and sees the possible!

1 Samuel 17:42-47 Contemporary English Version (CEV)42 “When Goliath saw that David was just a healthy, good-looking boy, he made fun of him. 43 “Do you think I’m a dog?” Goliath asked. “Is that why you’ve come after me with a stick?” He cursed David in the name of the Philistine gods 44 and shouted, “Come on! When I’m finished with you, I’ll feed you to the birds and wild animals!”

45 David answered: You’ve come out to fight me with a sword and a spear and a dagger. But I’ve come out to fight you in the name of the Lord All-Powerful. He is the God of Israel’s army, and you have insulted him too!

46 Today the Lord will help me defeat you..”

Luke 1:37 “For with God, nothing shall be impossible.”

2 Chronicles 20:15 “…Thus saith the Lord unto you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.”

GodWinks: the unexplainable moment in life when it can only be GOD!

This story was a continuance from a previous story on Resident Press. If you would like to read Part 1, please click on the link below:


Pictures courtesy of Matt and Andrea Marlin

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