featured missionaries in Peru: a story of God's faithfulness, what their lives look like, and how you can help
I (Keela, the founder of Wholeheartedly Messy) am so blessed to be able to help these amazing missionaries, Charlie and Christian Matlock. I have known this couple for years. They have supported me, encouraged me, and taught me what it means to be passionate for God. Charlie was my youth pastor, and I had the privilege of seeing him and Christian boldly follow Christ, no matter what the cost was. I have been on two mission trips to Peru with them, one before they became missionaries there and one after. I have met the children that they so bravely love (and they stole my heart!), and these girls are filled with so much joy because of the Matlocks. They feel loved, and they just glow with hope, which is a miracle in itself. It is an honor to be able to support these two and their ministry.
So, how can you help?
Pray for Charlie and Christian, for the children that they bring in, for God to provide for them financially, and for God to send more missionaries into Puerto Maldonado, Peru.
Provide food, shelter, transportation, clothing, and other basic needs for the children they care for by supporting the Matlocks financially. Click here to donate!
This is their story. Read it, pray for them, and learn what it truly means to follow Christ.
HOW God SET US UP TO SERVE
Fifteen years ago, I never could have imagined I would be where I am today. At that time, I was a single mom with two girls and was working three jobs just to make ends meet. I was very happy as I was serving in my church and content with Jesus being the only man in my life. Sadly, most church organizations and denominations would not allow a divorced woman/man to be in full time ministry. However, God had other plans for me. I always clung to this verse: “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) I know He always has my best interest at heart, even when I am struggling with something or going through some trial or tribulation.
I won’t go into the whole story, but God brought a man into my life, and he was everything I knew I needed to be able to be married again; I didn't need any man in my life to make me feel like I was somebody. This man was totally different than my first husband. I was at a point in my life when I really knew who I was and Who met all my needs. Together, Charlie and I served in our local church, and we were welcomed into this church family. My husband received a call to full-time ministry and he responded at the young age of 47. He trusted God to lead him to the right place to serve. God led us to the very church we were already attending. He was called to be the youth pastor (at his age people thought he was nuts!) and family pastor.
HOW OUR MINISTRY STARTED
In 2012, Charlie took his first mission trip to Peru. He absolutely fell in love with the people. He told the Lord that if he ever had the opportunity to go to Peru again, he would. In 2014, he again went to to the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado, Peru with our Pastor and an elder to scout out mission opportunities. When he stepped out of the plane onto the tarmac, he heard God saying, “your home.” In 2015, Charlie and I were able to celebrate our 10th wedding anniversary on the mission field. I knew Charlie wanted me to fall in love with Puerto Maldonado the same as him. I, however, was a bit stubborn. Still, I went to Peru with an open heart and hands, willing to hear whatever He wanted to speak to me about. On our last night in Puerto Maldonado, I rode back to our hotel on a mototaxi. On that ride, God started talking to me about becoming a missionary in Peru, and I tried to give every excuse to not leave what I was comfortable with and loved. Before I got to the hotel, I surrendered everything completely to God.
When we returned home, we talked and agreed to pray and talk to the Lord separately to hear what He clearly wanted us to do. We contacted a mission organization and they told us we needed to pray for what God wanted us to do in Peru and when we were to be there. We prayed for an entire year. In 2016, we went to Puerto Maldonado, Peru and knew God would answer our prayers while we we there. We prayer-walked and talked to several different ministries, and God showed us that He wanted us to go work with children who have been either been physically or sexually abused, or abandoned to the streets. We both heard Him telling us we needed to be in Peru by August of 2017. So, we began the process of raising money and selling everything we owned. We said our goodbyes to family and friends and moved to Peru to live in the jungle.
HARDSHIPS ON THE MISSION FIELD
Our first seven months were the hardest of either of our lives. The verse God gave us when we were praying in 2016 was this: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:21 ESV). From this, we knew when we got to Peru we would suffer.
Extreme heat and humidity with no relief was constant, unless we happened to take a trip to town in the air-conditioned van. We drank water that looked like mud most days and had to be filtered so it was free from parasites. You don't know if you are tanning or your skin is stained from showering in the red clay water! We use a 5 gallon bucket as a toilet and then cover it in sawdust. These discomforts were expected, but we didn't expect to suffer at the hands of the ones we were going to serve with.
The mission field is a hard place. Many times it is lonely and you feel abandoned. Abandoned by the church at home, family, and truthfully, God. I have been blessed to have a group of missionary wives that encourage and pray for one another. I live out in the jungle, and since our ministry is with children, I don’t have as much freedom as the other missionary wives, so it makes it hard to develop relationships and have get-togethers. When I am able, it is very refreshing. I struggle because I don’t have the language down, so it is difficult to enjoy a message or even worship in church. I can tell you that the Holy Spirit has really spoken and moved in me many times, because what few Spanish words I do know, He has given me an understanding of what the song is about and I find myself crying and raising my hands and voice to Him in praise! It is frustrating not knowing the language well enough to carry on a normal conversation with the local ladies at our church to be able to develop relationships there nor to minister properly to the children in the home.
WHO WE SERVE & WHAT IT'S LIKE
We are the Resident Missionaries at La Buena Semilla (The Good Seed), which is 10 kilometers outside the jungle city of Puerto Maldonado, Peru. We are commissioned by Commission To Every Nation serving at an iProjects (missions organization out of Canada). We have been told that Puerto Maldonado has the highest number of abused children in the country. Our mission is to offer a safe haven for the children we serve where they can find hope, healing, and restoration in a relationship with Jesus Christ. We currently have 9 children ranging from ages two to sixteen. These children have been through more than any one person should in their young lives -- sexual abuse, physical abuse, abandonment, loss. There are not enough casa hogars to care for the children who need rescuing from their situation.
We have a two year old boy who has been sodomized.
We had a young girl with us for two months and she turned ten while she was with us. We had her because her mother who prostituted her out was looking to kill her, and she had been so violated that it took going to six doctors to find one who was willing to examine her. Yet this girl still radiated joy. She stayed with us long enough for social services to find a place for her in another city far away from danger.
We had a nine year old who was finally reunited with her mom after being in the home for a year and three months. She was with us because the stepdad had raped her at least three times. We had the privilege of seeing her accept Christ in January 2017 and learned how to study her Bible to know Him better.
We have another nine year old came to know Christ this summer during a Bible club led by Keela (the founder of Wholeheartedly Messy) and a few other teens on a mission trip. She is being taught how to study her Bible and draw closer to Christ.
We have two sisters who were beaten by their stepdad and their mom signed away her parental rights. They are in the process of being adopted by their great aunt and everything should be finalized by the end of December.
We have a four year old whose mom is a prostitute and left her in the bars while she “worked” but the last place called social services after the child had been there for three days.
To take in a child and hear of what they have suffered and a few days later see them laughing and just being a normal child is just visually seeing the grace of God in action. Sometimes the littlest of things can send a precious child into a meltdown and all you can do is sit there holding them, telling them you are there and that God will always be there for them.
WHAT GOD IS TEACHING ME & WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
Seeing their resilience just constantly reminds me of God”s love and how His grace covers me more times than I realize. When I see a smile breaking through a trail of tears, I know His love lights up in me to show others how much He loves me and cares for me. He doesn't just care about the big things that go on in my life but the smallest of things, too. I am reminded of our verse in 1 Peter that I am to follow in His steps. Even though He was the Son of God, He suffered with every step He took with His cross weighing heavily, so who am I to expect that I should be free from trials and difficulties? Giving up the life I had in the states is nothing compared to what He did for me. This is what I desire for the children to know: that life will not be easy, but when we have a relationship with Jesus, He will always be there to help us walk and learn through it all. I love that Christ wants to use me and my husband to minister to the hearts of precious children. We can house up to 25 children but are on hold right now because we don’t have the consistent support to feed and clothe them. I ask you to pray that God will provide the necessary funds to be able to rescue more children and show them the love of a Savior who wants to offer them hope and grace.
Christ is all that matters. No matter where you are in your life, totally surrender your all to Christ. I am a simple woman. There isn’t anything outstanding, unique, or extraordinary about me except I serve a living Savior who gave His all for me and for you. We have a daily battle and we need to remember that we fight from victory not for victory. Arm yourself daily with His Word and walk boldly with the One who can give you power from His Holy Spirit who lives in you.
If you don't know Christ, I challenge you to seek Him. I guarantee that you'll find Him. If you know Him, find someone who can pour into you. Live your life as if each day is your last.