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Gina and Tim Matthews will spend two years in Papua New Guinea. PHOTO BY SHANNA FORTIER
Palm Coast Tuesday, Jun. 17, 2014 3 years ago

Couple prepares to serve in Papua New Guinea

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by: Shanna Fortier Associate Editor

When Tim and Gina Matthews returned home from The Bahamas, they had some big decisions to make.

Before they had left Palm Coast in 2010 to set sail on a 30-foot catamaran South, with no specific destination, the Matthewses had given away all their possessions. It took them eight days to give away their belongings and six weeks to sail from Palm Coast to Stuart.

The couple was in search of a way to serve orphans and widows. After making dock in Nassau, they found out that the pastor they were going there to meet about building an orphanage had died during their journey. They eventually found themselves in Man-O-War Cay and walked to the first church steeple they saw. After meeting with the pastor, they were told they didn’t need to go any further because that church was building an orphanage.

“Wherever we went, we would seek out the local church,” Tim Matthews said. “It was a tremendous blessing to just go and help. Sometimes when we’re doing mission trips, people come in thinking we’re the mighty Americans, but we always asked what they need. We were well accepted where we went not barging in.”

Gina was offered a job teaching at the local school and Tim helped to build the orphanage on Andros Island.

The couple sailed back to the U.S. last summer with all intentions to return back to the Bahamas.

“We prayed the whole way back that God would make it clear to us what his plan was,” said Gina Matthews. “But the minute we got back to Stuart, we met missionary couple after missionary couple all encouraging us.”

Through those missionaries, the Matthewses learned about Wycliffe Bible Translators. They researched the organization and found out that in 1917 a missionary named William Cameron Townsend went to Guatemala to sell Spanish Bibles, but discovered that many people didn’t understand Spanish well.

They were Cakchiquel speakers, and they didn't have a translated Bible. Townsend dropped everything for the next several years to translate scripture for them. The completion of their New Testament was the beginning of a worldwide movement and in 1942 he founded Wycliffe to help reach every people group with scripture in their language.

“We were shocked as Christians that we didn’t know about this,” Gina Matthews said. “I thought everybody had a bible, but there are 180 million people with no translation of scripture at all.”

Tim Matthews said, “We’re in our own little America culture and even though we are exposed to mission, we weren’t exposed to that. I felt so dumb, but once we started understanding that (Wycliffe) wanted to translate the Bible into the heart language of the tribes worldwide — what better way to spend the rest of our lives.”

While exploring the mission positions available through Wycliffe, Tim Matthews found a position that he had been training for his whole life, in maritime support in Papua New Guinea. As a former Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission officer, Tim Matthews had been running boats for more than 15 years and had all the training needed to fill this position.

“To us, God made it crystal clear,” Gina Matthews said.

The couple sailed back to Palm Coast and put their boat up for sale. Within an hour, it sold for the full asking price. They put their house up for sale before leaving for Wycliffe training and two days before graduating, the house went under contract. They moved back into their empty house and slept on an air mattress with towels for sheets until the house closed. Now they are house hopping until they leave for their mission.

“The neat thing about this whole journey that God’s had us is it would have been difficult going from all the luxuries of the comfortable life in Sea Colony to putting us in Papua New Guinea. But he took us from those comforts to giving everything away, to moving onto the sailboat, down to bare necessities of life. We came to value different cultures and the way island living is and now, we will be living out of a 40-pound backpack on the other side of the world.”

There are over 800 languages in Papua New Guinea and almost 300 have not been translated. Many tribes live on small remote islands that can only be reached by boat. The Matthewses will provide the safe transportation needed to get the translators to these islands.

“Together we can be a part of transforming lives through God’s word,” Tim Matthews said.

To donate to Tim and Gina Matthew’s mission, visit matthewsmaritimemissions.com.

 

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