Monday, June 16, 2014

Matt Thomas, Bishop and Storyteller

We had the privilege of hearing Bishop Matt Thomas speak several times over the weekend. Not only did he give three messages at our church's annual Leadership Summit, he also was the presenter for a break-out session called "How to Cross Bridges You are Building," and he was our speaker at church Sunday morning.

Bishop Matt oversees the work of the western region of the Free Methodist Church as well as Asia. He and his family spent time in three different locations as missionaries. He is a man who seems comfortable with anybody, anywhere. And he is a storyteller.

His stories were amazing -- stories about encounters with folks in his travels, stories of how people came to know Christ, conversions stories that took place on airplanes and in Starbucks, stories of bold believers in places hostile to the gospel, and a story about a guy who broke into a church storage shed, stole all their groundskeeping tools, then tried to hawk them to a church member.

He told a marvelous story about being in a village somewhere in the world where no one spoke a word of English. He didn't know a word of the local language, and the interpreter was two-and-a-half hours late. An older man came up to him and began to talk -- in his own language -- and he talked and talked. This must be the man I was supposed to meet today, thought Bishop Matt, and he responded in English. The man showed him around the village, talking the whole time in his own language, and the Bishop followed him around, speaking English.

They went into a home, where a young couple lived with their baby. This must be where they want to start the church, he thought. They drew his attention to the baby, and he reached down and picked her up. And then he prayed for those gathered, for the baby, and for the Lord to bless the home and all that should happen there.

When the interpreter arrived the Bishop said, "Do you mind to tell me what happened here?" So the interpreter turned to the old gentleman and asked him about his time with the Bishop. Then he turned to Matt and said, "You took a tour of the village and went to the home where they would like to start a church. You met the family of the home and prayed a blessing on their home. Their baby has been sick and they wanted you to pray for her, so you did. You did everything they were hoping you would do on your visit today."

Bishop Matt said that he's never been in a more foreign environment in his life, but that he was never more at home. Home, he told us, is not a matter of soil; it is a matter of soul. Everybody wants a sense of home, but it's not so easy to identify a home these days. But when God makes his home in us, we're home.

People all around us are looking for home. If they haven't found it in Christ, they are not truly at home. He shared the simplicity of helping people find their true home. I'll pass on some of what he told us in my next post.

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