Sometimes I remember exactly how I meet people but that isn’t the case with Matthew. We had some classes together, but my earliest memory is from an etiquette dinner where we first hit it off. We were making jokes around the table; laughing and joking is one of the first things that many people think of Matthew comes to mind.
Matthew was hilarious. He was willing to laugh at himself. Recently, a few of us were going through old Loop episodes and Matthew brought us to tears with how funny he was. He wasn’t afraid to be vulnerable, even if that meant sharing about how he wet himself as a child for his soccer photos (which he talked about on camera and allowed us to release to the whole school). On one of our many drives around Sussex he would always get me laughing; he was even cracking jokes in our preaching class which is the worst time to be laughing.
Matthew was incredibly caring. He showed this in many ways; one time he showed up at my dorm with a full tub of ice cream and told me to eat my feelings. So of course I ate the whole thing, during which he let me talk to him about what I was feeling. I’ve never been the best at opening up, but Matthew was one of those people who I always felt comfortable talking to about the problems I faced. He was so easy to talk to, I think he made everyone around him feel that way. Whether it was through a Facebook message or a drive to Irving to get a Polar Pop, Matthew genuinely cared for the people around him. Last year was a tough year for me spiritually, and he would come to my room to make sure I got to Chapel and Pulse activities. He was never afraid to pull me aside and ask me tough, heart questions.
Matthew was worshipful. We often sat beside each other in chapel and he would always be engaging in worship, singing to God and raising his hands. Matthew was a big guy, so when he stood up and raised his hands to God and the light was right on him it would look like a halo, casting a shadow the stage.
Matt loved God more than anything in his life and he also loved people. When we were at Follow youth conference in Indiana, he saw a fast food worker sitting alone and he invited him over to our table. At the end of the meal, Matthew prayed for him. Matthew was often asked to intercede during powerful moves of the Holy Spirit at Kings Church on a Saturday night.
Matthew was an encourager. A student told me this week that they were thinking of quitting Kingswood in their first few weeks. They talked to Matt and he told them not to sell themselves short – God had called them to something bigger so stick it out. That student is still here three years later pursuing their call to pastoral ministry.
Matthew’s whole world revolved around Gabe. He would often say he was helpless without her. When she would go away for teaching conference, Matthew would come to class looking sub par and as if he hadn’t eaten much more than McDonald’s. He couldn’t sleep. When we were in Indiana, he would FaceTime her for hours each evening and made a special date at Golden Corral for the day they were to be reunited. He loved Gabe more than anything on this side of Heaven.
Matthew was driven. He was involved in Student Council, Buckingham Leadership Institute, Dunamis Rallies, the Loop, the library, and Enrolment. He excelled at all of these things. I remember one time he and I went to Wal-mart and he wandered off. When he wandered back I asked where he had gone and he told me he had gotten an application for KU at 8:30 at night. At Wesleyan Headquarters this summer he was given tasks that had real meaning, including resourcing pastors for the Thrive Financial Initiative and managing the denominational Facebook group. Matthew was trusted to get the job done well, now matter how big or small it was.
Matt didn’t let conflict linger between himself and others. Sometimes that even meant barricading himself in my room until we resolved what had come between us. I could not move him if I tried so I had no choice but to work it out. He wanted all his relationships in his life to be right.
Matthew got great grades in school; he was always a few percentage higher than me and he never let me forget. The only time he stayed up all night working on assignments was when I was his partner for something. He was on dean’s list every semester and was awarded the best scholarships.
Matthew was an amazing guy. But where did all these traits come from? They came from years of investment from his family, a strong Christian family that fears the Lord; they came from Gabe pushing him to grow and loving him through every trial; they came from the Kingswood community, students who leaned on him and who he leaned on; from staff like Scott Rhyno, professors like Dr Smith and Dr. Elliot; but most of all these traits came from God.
Matt loved the Kingswood chapel but I think he and I would both agree that where he is worshipping now is infinitely better. His life is an example to us all. He loved Kingswood, he loved the God’s Kingdom, he loved serving, he loved us, he loved Gabe, he loved his family, and he loved God.
Edited for publishing by Mindy Loew