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Reflections on Our Time Back in the US

After four years of living in Thailand, our family has returned to the US for a three-month visit. It’s been a time of reflection and joy as we reconnect with family, friends, and supporters back home. We’ve been blessed by the support and encouragement from our partners and supporters at our church, which allows us to continue to serve the Lord in Thailand with confidence of a Jesus community.

We have enjoyed the time off from ministry that this trip has provided us. In addition to spending quality time with family, we have had opportunities to explore some places together. We visited the Jacksonville Beach often, Orlando Florida and Clemson, South Carolina. We also took a road trip across Florida, visiting our parents and friends along the way.

The most meaningful part of our trip has been getting to spend time with all of our friends and family who we left behind when we moved to Thailand. Seeing familiar faces was incredibly special—it felt like no time had passed since we last saw them! We were also able to catch up with old friends who we hadn’t seen in many years—it was so great seeing how their lives have changed since then!

The trip has also given us some valuable perspective on ministry overseas. Being away from Thailand for an extended period of time has allowed us to reflect on what God is doing there, how He is using us, and how He wants us to respond as missionaries serving Him. It’s been a chance for prayerful renewal as well as a reminder of why it is important for us to be there long-term—to not just do something but be something for His Kingdom sake!

Heading back we partner with you having a shared passion to bring the gospel of Jesus Christ to Thailand. We are excited for what is taking place in Chiangmai. By combining evangelism, discipleship and church planting with community development initiatives, together believers from various churches will be able to reach those who have yet received Jesus' saving knowledge. Through these efforts His Spirit can enter human hearts as they transition into new everlasting life reconciled with God – making alive an incredible mission ordained by our Lord himself: The Great Commission!

Our time back in the US has flown by quickly; it seems like only yesterday that we arrived! We are grateful for this opportunity to rest, reconnect with people here, and gain some perspective before returning back to Thailand soon. As much as we are looking forward to getting back home soon, leaving again will be bittersweet—we will miss everyone here dearly! But thanks be unto God that He reunites families over oceans when needed! Until next time…we love you guys!!!

End of Blog Version, if you have time grab a cup of coffee and read on to a personal challenge.

Truth and Challenge of while back in the USA.

Here's a short story of God's goodness in my personal journey and maybe part of my next newsletter if God leads.

Well, I was at my parents’ home yesterday, and we were having fun pulling up google maps satellite pictures of where my parents had moved over the years and watching my 83 year-old father have fun with that technology as he looked over those old places and we reminisced together. That’s when Angie pulled up the home in Middleburg that we sold for no profit to “go” with the gospel and tell people that never heard about the good news of Jesus Christ. That home was a beautiful Cape Cod-style home on 5 acres. My mind flew back to the joy we had anticipating the purchase and then the labor that we put in carefully decorating and with my 40 year old strength putting up a massive rail fence and electric gate along the front of that property. It was a joyful memory of a blessed time. When we sold, I was in my early 40's and we had a house full of young children. We also sold the company that we equally owned. My partners sold that company for millions a few years back. My brother was of my partners in that business. Well, we went out to eat and fellowship with my brother and his wife after we had visited my parents yesterday. During the meal he told me in detail about the retirement home that he just purchased in the country of Panama on the beach from the sale of that company and all of the rich and famous people that live near him and how friendly they are and how down-to-earth they seem to be. I was really very happy for him, and we laughed and had a wonderful time eating burritos.

This morning:

You know what, I woke up this morning. Haha, there was no sunrise, and I looked out to the horizon and suddenly, for the first time in 15 years, since we walked away from all of those beautiful 'people and things" God had blessed us with and walked into His calling, selling out of that blessed company, we received a payout for the company shares, paid out monthly which we have spent alongside our partners and supporters while on the mission field that we were called to over these years as we felt it was right that we also put in financially alongside our friends and partners. When we sold these things God had laid on my heart William Borden's "No Reserves" as he walked away from inheritance, trusting in God's better inheritance that never fades. This morning, you know, I remembered that picture of our former home from google yesterday, specifically of that fence that was still strong and standing that I had spent such joy and effort building, realizing that had we stayed we would be making the last payments to own that home after 15 years of payments and I genuinely missed that place, that time and the feeling of physical strength and what the world would see as financial independence and future security for which we had worked hard. I could tell that, for the first time in 15 years I had a feeling of regret stirring up to my heart saying, "you fool"...

In my distress I turned my heart and attention to Jesus, and He reminded me...He is so good to do so! He reminded me of that old saying that I heard when we were going out to the mission field. Way back then, with hearts blazing with zeal and filled with God's passion for the masses of lost souls in Asia that have never heard the name of Jesus. The saying was Jim Elliot's, who gave so much more than I. He's the one who determined that he would not use his nearby guns to defend his life. He reasoned that his life could not be ultimately lost because he had eternal life. He reasoned that to shoot the tribesmen that killed him, who had deadly spears but did not have everlasting life, was to be ruled out before they were confronted.

He reminded me:

He Is No Fool Who Gives What He Cannot Keep,

To Gain That Which He Cannot Lose!

And doesn’t our Lord love to put a challenge out there?

Mark 19:29-30, “And Jesus answered and said, Verily I say unto you, There is no man that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my sake, and the gospel’s, But he shall receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses, and brethren, and sisters, and mothers, and children, and lands, with persecutions; and in the world to come eternal life. But many that are first shall be last, and the last first.”

I love that He added, with persecutions and that He clearly defined the motive "for My sake" underlined. Thank you, Jesus! I am not seeking out 100X the wealth I had, nor am I looking to be persecuted. I trust that on that Day, I will fully understand all He has done, and I already know I would never trade all the earth for what He has given and now I have been again assured that it is alway wise to follow where He leads and again I turn my eyes and heart to fill with His zeal for the lost and for His glory!

This verse never makes me think in the way of “health and wealth” preachers, whose selfish motives will be exposed but, I joyfully receive all that He has for me and ask that He brings glory to Himself as He uses us to spread the gospel. Above all, this I ask and pray:

10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

12 Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus.

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,

14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

15 Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded: and if in any thing ye be otherwise minded, God shall reveal even this unto you.

16 Nevertheless, whereto we have already attained, let us walk by the same rule; let us mind the same thing.

17 Brethren, be followers together of me and mark them which walk so as ye have us for an ensample.

I don’t know if this brings any courage to you on this cold and rainy morn. Still, as I have gone thru this process this morning, I considered and am praying for you in your journey as I know that you also gave and are giving up much to follow His high calling and are constantly thinking and walking in this way. May we live our lives joyously giving all to Jesus with "No reserves", "No retreats," and "No regrets."

Below from "Taylor, Geraldine Guinness. Borden of Yale '09"

In 1904 William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school. As heir to the Borden family fortune, he was already wealthy. For his high school graduation present, William Borden's parents gave their 16-year-old son a trip around the world. As the young man traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt a growing burden for the world's hurting people. Finally, Bill Borden wrote home about his "desire to be a missionary."

One friend expressed disbelief that Bill was "throwing himself away as a missionary."

A story often associated with Borden says that, in response, he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: "No reserves."

Although he was a millionaire, Bill seemed to "realize always that he must be about his Father's business, and not wasting time in the pursuit of amusement."

Upon graduation from Yale, Borden turned down some high-paying job offers. It has been reported that in his Bible, Bill Borden wrote two more words: "No retreats."

William Borden went on to do graduate work at Princeton Seminary in New Jersey. When he finished his studies at Princeton, he sailed for China. Because he was hoping to work with Chinese Muslims, he stopped first in Egypt to study Arabic. While there, he contracted spinal meningitis. Within a month, 25-year-old William Borden was dead.

When the news of William Whiting Borden's death was cabled back to the U.S., the story was carried by nearly every American newspaper. "A wave of sorrow went round the world . . . Borden not only gave (away) his wealth, but himself, in a way so joyous and natural that it (seemed) a privilege rather than a sacrifice" wrote Taylor in her introduction to his biography.

Was Borden's untimely death a waste? Not in God's perspective. As the story has it, prior to his death, Borden had written two more words in the back of his Bible. Underneath the words "No reserves" and "No retreats," he is reported to have written: "No regrets."

While just in writing this letter you see my challenge in being like these great men like Elliot and Borden, I pray God continues to meet us in our dark doubts and questions with His grace and encouragement.

His Grace and Peace to you my friend,

Tom Matthews for the Matthews Family
Tom - Family and Ministry