Greetings from the Bluegrass State! We have been living in Louisville for 4 months now and can’t believe how quickly this semester has flown by! In August, we moved from our humble home in Tampa for Brian to begin his classes at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in order to pursue a Masters degree with a concentration in International Church Planting. We are now officially settled and established Louisvillians!
One area of high priority upon moving was our desire to quickly find and begin serving in a local church body. Having travelled to Louisville in the past, we already knew of a handful of congregations that we wanted to visit and consider further. Among those was Sojourn Community Church—the body of believers that we decided to commit to. Sojourn was extremely different than any church we had attended in the past: the age demographic was fairly young, the style of worship was very unique, and the congregation placed a heavy emphasis on multiplication and the call to plant other churches. This latter point was something that compelled us to begin the membership process with Sojourn, simply because we had recently felt God’s leading to plant a church in an international urban setting.
Upon God’s initial calling on our lives to become international missionaries and/or church planters, we very much dismissed any type of consideration for European nations. Ignorantly, we assumed that with such a heavy religious background, countries in Western Europe were, for the most part, “reached” with the gospel. For reasons still unknown to us, God began to break those barriers over the course of this past summer and especially when we moved to Louisville. We began to feel a very real call to one of the many urban cities in Western Europe—cities such as Rome, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam, among others—and we began to consider those cities for our long-term commitment after seminary.
Within the past two months or so, our church began promoting the scheduled international mission trips for next summer—three in all. There was always a desire in our hearts to be a part of one of these trips, but we were not hopeful that we would actually be able to go. With both of us having to get off work for a full week and raise a large sum of money ($6,000 in all), it just didn’t seem practical or possible in this season of life. But the Lord continued to prick our hearts in this area. On November 15th, we decided to apply for positions on the team going to Southern France May 11-20, albeit a full two weeks after the deadline to do so. The team was already chosen and at capacity at that time, but we figured if for some reason we were seen as qualified, then that would act as the Lord’s confirmation that we should go. A week later, we were told that we were added to the team and despite the seeming odds still against us (the task of raising financial support and getting off work), we were ecstatic!
Much to our surprise—but a continued display of God’s provision—we were BOTH granted a full week off work in May for the trip. Faced with the seemingly daunting task of raising a total of $6,000 ($3,000 for each of us, including our airfare), we were a little nervous to be honest! But we knew that God had paved the way for this trip to France so far and we know that He has always provided for us in the past, so we just had to have a little faith—no, A LOT of faith—and believe Him when He says that all things are possible with Him. And we truly do.
This trip to Southern France will focus on setting up the groundwork for future church plants and future opportunities to convey the gospel of Christ through those churches. Our team of approximately 18 will be split into three regions and we will be doing a variety of demographic research and surveying, in the hope of equipping those church planters from Sojourn Community Church (and partners) who will come in the years to follow. We feel like this experience will not only prove beneficial to those who come along behind us, but also to us as we prepare to follow God’s call on our lives as international missionaries, possibly in the setting of Western Europe.
We are in need of $3,000 by late January for our airline tickets and the remaining $3,000 one week before we leave for France, on May 11th. This amount will cover both of our airline tickets to and from France, as well as all of our food, lodging and transportation while we are there.
This need can be met in many ways:
10 partners giving $600 each
20 partners giving $300 each
30 partners giving $200 each
50 partners giving $120 each
100 partners giving $60 each
There are two ways that you can give toward our trip:
Online: Go to international.sojournchurch.com to give directly. On the home page, click the button that says GIVE. Find the link for the trip to Southern France and then click “Brian and Ashley Mathews” (account #728). This will go directly to our specific fund.
By Check: For tax deductible donation, send a check directly to Sojourn. Make the check payable to Sojourn Community Church and make sure to put our names and account number (728) in the memo line. This is important to ensure that your donation will go directly to our specific fund.
For non-tax deductible donation, send a check directly to us at:
Brian and Ashley Mathews
SBTS Box 173
2825 Lexington Rd.
Louisville, KY 40213
We thank you in advance for your generous contribution and for the impact that you have already made on our lives and the lives of those we will come in contact with! You are a blessing!
Brian and Ashley