DJ and I have known Matt and his family for nearly seven years now. He is married to Katharine and they have three beautiful kids (Hannah, Abigail and Josiah). Can I just stop for one second to say that Katharine is pretty awesome for not minding that The Beard is in their most recent family pictures?! Hello... that's amazing. Behind each of our married Beards is a wife who supports his facial hair. Trust me, it's no small thing that these women don't mind having hairy husbands and I am just as grateful for their support as I am for their husbands facial hair. So, shout out to Katharine, because she's gonna look at these pictures for forever and that beard will be staring right back at her....
We first met the Elkins when Matt and I worked on staff together at The Village. Matt was one of our Missions Pastors at the church. A year later, DJ interviewed to come on staff with the Missions Department and he and Matt would work closely together for the next 5 years. One of my favorite memories of the Elkins' is the way the rejoiced with us when DJ first got hired. When we found out that DJ got the job, they immediately invited us over to celebrate. We walked in their house and they had put out some cookies and a sign that said, "Congrats, DJ! You're a star!". Such a small little thing, but I have never forgotten it and am grateful for the ways they loved DJ that night. It only set the tone for how they would continue to love DJ in the years to come. Though they are such good friends, these two men could not be more different...(they even score on complete opposite sides of the Myers-Briggs test!). But despite their differences, they are great friends and brothers. I have watched them support, encourage, challenge, love and sanctify one another in the past several years and Matt's role in DJ's life is one that I am beyond grateful for.
Matt is passionate about Jesus and missions. He has traveled all over the world sharing Jesus with the nations and the Lord has used him mightily to stir evangelism within the hearts of the people at The Village Church..... Which, by the way, is a perfect segway into our next point: the bittersweetness of this post. It's bitter in that Matt is needing to step down from the ABFAB team, but sweet because it is for great reason! Matt and his family are preparing to be missionaries in Nagoya, Japan and are set to leave next summer. Japan has a Christian population of .25%---yea, you read that right, a quarter of one percent--- and Matt and Katharine have a heart to go and take the good news of Jesus to the people of Japan. One of the things they need to do in preparation to leave is gain a support team and one of the best ways to do that is to not look shady. And so, the beard has to go, guys. BUT.....we 100% support it's departure because we know that with the shaving of the beard comes the opportunity for a nation to hear about Jesus and let's face it.... that is worth it.
We love Matt and are so thankful for the time he spent on our team. He did a great job of getting his sponsors in and raising money to help bring our son home and we are so thankful. We continue to be humbled by those who help us raise money in the midst of their own support raising... there are just no words to describe what a sweet thing that is. And so, we want to do the same for them. Please, please take a moment to learn about what the Elkins are doing and ask the Lord if He would have you participate in any way. Read their blog, learn about God's heart for Japan, and help send them there!
To read their blog, click here. And to support them in their fundraising efforts, click here.
We love you, Matt! Thanks for helping bring our little guy home. We are praying for you guys as you prepare to take the gospel to Japan. And not even kidding, I'm trying to convince DJ that we should come with you.... #justsayin