Although he was born Jewish, Matt Simon never really took to the Jewish faith. It was always something that was more important to others – like his grandparents. He attended temple twice a year for the high holidays and had his Bar Mitzvah at 13, but the Jewish faith was never a true part of his life.
Sometime later, Matt married a Catholic woman who had grown up with Catholicism her whole life, and so they decided to raise their two kids in the Catholic faith. He attended church with his wife and kids on the few occasions that they attended, but never really felt a part of the Catholic Church. When the kids were a little older he made a decision to convert to Catholicism as he felt that he wanted to be part of how his kids were being raised. After going through the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults) program he was baptized. While he said he had done this for himself he soon realized that this was something he had done for his wife and kids so he could feel part of what they were doing. But despite going through this process, he still was not entirely comfortable attending Catholic Church feeling no real connection to it.
Fast forward a few years. Matt’s world is completely different. Divorced and living on his own, he started attending New Life with his girlfriend at the time. This was a completely different experience then the ritualistic Catholic masses he’d attended in the past. Even though the message of the first service he attended was a bit challenging for him, he continued to come back to New Life week after week. As time went on, New Life became more and more comfortable for him, and the sermons started to feel more like they were tailored directly for him. After one sermon speaking directly to some issues he was struggling with in his life, he decided to reach out to Mike Fewster to set up a meeting to talk with him about it. This was a life changing experience for him. Unlike his conversations with the Catholic priest during confession, this was a real conversation with someone who understood what he was going through and was able to connect with him to help start the healing process. It was at that time that Matt thought he needed to do something as a penance for his past.
Mike quickly let him know that we don’t do penances at New Life as it was up to him to make his peace with God, but offered that he could serve somewhere in the church. Matt readily accepted and started serving as part of the Sunday morning setup team. He has continued to do this for the past two years as New Life became his home church. Through the Take 5 program, he got connected with Dale Spaulding who then went on to become a critical person in his journey towards becoming a believer and accepting Christ into his life. Through Dale’s encouragement, he joined Dale’s small group. He was challenged by the group and the discussion. He had longed for this deeper connection. During this time, he kept meeting with Dale and learning more about what it meant to follow Christ as his faith continued to grow.
As his faith grew he knew that baptism was the next step for him. But he was still hesitant to take that next step despite being asked by Mike and Dale on a regular basis, was he ready to take the next step, he never took it. Then one Sunday while attending service with his son, a baptism video was shown at the start of the service. After the video montage ended, Matt’s son nudged him and asked, “Dad, why haven’t you done that yet?”. He did not have a good answer for this, and that simple question was the gentle nudge that he needed. Then and there made the decision that it was now time to take that next step and finally get baptized.
All throughout his life, faith was always about other people and for other people. But this time, as he had been exploring what it meant to follow Christ, he knew that he wanted to be baptized for HIM, not for anyone else. He went up to Dale after the service was over and said that he was ready to be baptized.
Matt was baptized on Jan 29, 2017 (which was also his birthday) by both Dale and Mike, the two strong Christian men who had been critical to his journey towards Christ.
After being exposed to different viewpoints his entire life and hearing about Christ in different ways, his story is not unlike many of ours. However, through the grace of God he was able to finally take ownership of his faith and be baptized. Have you been baptized? If not, what is preventing you from really accepting the love and forgiveness of Christ and being baptized into the Kingdom of Heaven today?