[caption id="attachment_417" align="aligncenter" width="944"] "McCulloch Hall, 4th Floor" by Geoff Hill / CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 / Cropped[/caption]
Matthew Hendley lived two doors down from me on the second floor of Howell Hall. I was an overconfident freshman, self-centered and agnostic. He was a junior, with a cool beard and a wild obsession with Jesus. I didn’t know quite what to think about him—and especially what to think about his God—so I avoided him most of that first semester. Once I even crossed a street just so I wouldn’t have to talk to him.
And yet, Matthew was persistent. As much as I tried to keep my distance, I found myself strangely drawn to him. His joyful demeanor and constant pursuit of me slowly won me over. I couldn’t put my finger on it, but I knew Matthew had something that I wanted.
When I got the phone call about Uncle Roy, Matthew was the first person I went to. Somehow, I knew he would care. He prayed for me, which was a little strange, but it left a mark.
The next fall, I transferred schools and lost touch with Matthew. Even then, I couldn’t escape him. The truths Matthew had faithfully shared with me during freshman year haunted me at night. Desperately, I picked up the Bible and read the entire New Testament over Christmas break. I fell in love with Jesus and was convinced that He was my rescuer and redeemer. He was the treasure I had been seeking. I finally yielded my life to Christ.
Years later, when I was on the mission field, I tracked down Matthew Hendley and thanked him for his impact on my life. Although he couldn’t have seen it at the time, his investment had paid off.
I often wonder what would have happened in my life if Matthew had ignored me. He certainly didn’t need me—he was a popular guy with lots of friends. What if he had written me off when I rejected him? What if he had never shared with me the truth of the gospel? I am greatly indebted to Matthew and his persistent pursuit of me.
Now in my role as college minister, I am able to pursue people the way that Matthew pursued me. My greatest joy is getting to pour into other “Matthews” who are faithfully reaching out to students on their campuses and watching their stories unfold just like mine.
Matthew taught me the importance of being intentional among those whom God has placed you. Who knows how many “Lees”—future disciple-makers, college ministers, or missionaries—are living two doors down from you?
Lee S. serves as our College Minister. He and his wife, Lara, have two children, Braden and Madi. They have been members of our faith family since 2013. To get involved in college ministry, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or join us for a College Worship Gathering this Thursday, Feb. 20, at 8 pm in the Student Building!