As promised, we are ending our missional living series with a bang! Today we will be featuring couples who dared to get honest and share how they have seen God at work in and through their marriages (featuring the amazing photography talent of Sarah Sotro Torres).
First up is Matt and Rebecca Melendez. This couple is full of life and heart and humor. But what I love most about their story is the authenticity of God at work in their humanity. In this interview with them, you can feel the hunger for goodness and meaning in their lives and marriage, and the reality of the hard road it takes to get there. By the work of Christ in them, Matt and Rebecca are learning how to love well–whether they are with their community, out on the foreign mission field, or at home with one another. They are walking the narrow road to authentically loving as Christ loves in every aspect of life, and they are walking together–sometimes stumbling, sometimes climbing, sometimes dancing, but always moving toward the heart of God.
Hope you enjoy reading their interview as much as I did.Do the two of you share in a joint mission in God’s story?
It was very important to us from the very start of our dating process to make sure that we both were on the same page when it came to living for Christ. We wanted to make Christ the center of our relationship. Now that we are married, we look back to those times and can say that it was tough and even more so now that we are married. We know that there is a spiritual warfare going on and that we must put on the armor of God and fight the good fight.
How would you define that mission?
We would define that mission as knowing Christ, making him know inside and outside of our home. dying to our selves daily. Letting Christ be above all else. Letting our life be examples to show others of God’s great love.
How do the two of you collaborate to live out your mission?
How we collaborate to live out this mission is with a lot of praying, being in His word and lots of reconciliation. We have to put our pride, anger, selfishness, bitterness and our feelings aside. We have to be slow to anger, quick to have grace and forgiveness. Even when we don’t want to or even feel like it. Then only can we start to work as one. Our heart and views of each other start changing. We start seeing each other as God sees us. Then we can start moving forward.
When is it difficult? What does that look like?
If we are honest it is difficult every single day. We are sinners in need of God. We struggle with our sin. Our selfishness, pride, our feelings, our desires, our laziness, with what we think we deserve and what we think are our rights. It looks a lot like us fighting none stop. Doing what we want. doing things that give us temporary happiness. Holding on to our pride and anger. Putting everything above God. Going to God last or not at all. Gossiping, slandering, not caring. It’s so easy to go back to our sinful ways, it hard to do what God wants us to do. That’s why we can’t do it alone. We need God everyday, every second of our lives.
When is it really good? What does that look like?
It’s such a cheesy answer but it’s honestly true. It’s really good when we are in Gods word, in prayer. When we help others. When we are involved in church. When we are surrounded with Godly brothers and sisters who pray for us, encourage us, cry and laugh with us. When we started getting really involved in church and getting to know everyone and helping others. We saw not only our attitudes change but our hearts changing as well. We saw God work in ways that were mind blowing. God has provided things when there was no possible way of something working out. We have grown in our relationship with each other and have become friends with such amazing people.
How have you experienced God at work through your marriage?
When we met, both of us were doing missions in the country Nepal. We were on fire for God and in love with sharing his word and love to the beautiful Nepali people. When we came back to the states we got married. We had our life planned out. We were going to have our first year of marriage in the states and raise money for us to return to Nepal. Our plan was to live in Nepal doing mission work and 3 -4 years down the line start a family. We would be this happy couple raising our children in Nepal and sharing Gods love to everyone! Well, God had different plans for us.
In our first year of marriage we were blessed with a beautiful baby girl. Our first years of marriage were extremely difficult. There was a lot of fighting, anger, selfishness, sin that needed to come to the light and be dealt with. On top of trying to learn each other we had a newborn. Lots of sleepless nights,frustrations and a lot of doubt. We had no idea what we were doing as a married couple and as new parents. This was not our plan.
Through all of this God was at work in our lives. We have learned that mission living wasn’t just going out to foreign countries and preaching Gods word. But that it can also mean living for him through our marriage and raising our family. We need to be missional in our home. Even to our community. Letting our lives be examples to others. God has worked in both of our hearts and has drawn us closer to Him and each other. We are still a working progress but we are learning to trust God more and more everyday. We just came up on 3 years of marriage this pass November 15th. Our daughter had her second birthday in September. We are co leaders in a community group, we help in children’s ministry and have been leaders in youth ministry and also help play in the worship band Sunday mornings. None of this would be possible without God. If we didn’t have God we probably would only come to church when we felt like it, our marriage would be over and we would be living a sinful life. We praise and thank God for his Grace and love for us. We know that God has called us to go back to Nepal but instead of our timing, we are trusting in His timing. Till then we are content living for him here in the high dessert with our church family redeemer church.
Interview with Matt & Rebecca Melendez
Photography by Sarah Sotro Torres