An Amazing PartnershipAugust 19, 2010
After signing in, Pam and I retreated to the visitor’s waiting room to be called for processing and security clearance. With the exception of chatter of carefree children, the quiet room was filled with curiosity glances between the adults. Soon our names were called and we lined up with 8 others. We surrendered our drivers licenses, had the back of our left hand stamped with invisible ink, and given a locker key. After passing though the metal detector (which Pam failed due to a large metal decoration on her blouse) we were warned not to have any gum in our mouths, money or any other kind of paper in our pockets, and told to face the large window with our ID cards once we passed through the thick metal door.
The first time we went through such a process at the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution it was pretty intimidating. Years of this routine has made it common. Our focus has shifted from the process to the resident we are here to see … Matthew Gould, 16378738.
Matthew is our good friend and brother who is serving a sentence of 20 years with 16 remaining. We love Matthew enough to believe that we will be coming to see him until he is released, dies, or we die. That is the nature of friendship … different then the sort of friendship characteristic of a digital social network like Facebook. It is one of the things we get to enjoy while here in the United States.
Matthew and I became friends years ago when we were both officiating high school basketball games for the Salem Basketball Officials Association. His second son is named after our son Dawson. I dedicated one of his daughters to the Lord. We shared some vacation time together. His arrest was a shock to his family, friends, and to us. It was the best thing that happened to him. It was not the best thing that happened to his family, his economics, or other aspects of his life. But, it can be safely said that is was the best thing that happened to him. His relationship with the Lord has taken off and he has never been the same. Some people go to a foreign country and experience God like never before and are changed forever. I told Matthew he is an missionary to the foreign culture of prison life … and one that he would have never chosen to enter … but, it has changed him forever and brought the presence of Christ through him into a dark, dark place.
The last three months have been a financial challenge for us. Next Generation Ministries has not had enough funds in The General Fund for payroll. However, when we arrived home we found an envelope from the Oregon Department of Corrections. Inside was a check from Matthew Gould for $100 made out to Next Generation Ministries! Matthew has a job at his prison from which he receives $70 a month for personal necessities. What a sacrifice this friend made to be a part of what we do in Uganda.
As I was sharing with the Lord this morning, I asked Him how I should go about trusting Him for the support Pam and I need in order to continue doing what we are doing in Africa. Immediately Psalm 127:1 came to mind.
Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.
God is our provider. We are His workers. We depend on Him to meet our needs. We currently need airfare for the both of us, which can run anywhere between $3,000 and $4,000. We need travel expenses for our promotional tour across the United States to Charlotte, North Carolina and back. We need $4,411.14 for payroll and payroll taxes each month.
We are depending on the Lord. Will you partner with us?
Please send your check to Next Generation Ministries, 29940 South Dhooghe Road, Colton, OR 97017.