Chris Mathews' Testimony
When I was 12 years old, my parents got divorced. My mom and I moved to California and my dad stayed in Minnesota. At that point and time God was the last thing on my mind. I was not raised in a religious home. My mom was a fallen away Mormon and my dad a fallen away Catholic. The only experience I ever had with church was the one time I went with my grandmother.
When I got into High School, I got involved in the Fire Explorers. It was the best time I had had at that point in my life. That is where I decided to be a firefighter as a career. We got to ride on the trucks, go on calls, help people in trouble, etc. At 16, I got my first car. I started to go out with kids my age and do things I didn't do earlier. This also was when I first started to smoke marijuana and drink alcohol. As I grew in age so did my use of alcohol and pot.
At 18, I received a $15,000.00 insurance settlement from an accident six years earlier. I started hanging out with partiers instead of my fire department friends. I wanted to have fun and have lots of friends, something I didn't have as a child growing up. I kept my habits to a low roar so they didn't affect my job I now had with the fire department. I felt as if I had it all, a great job and lots of friends. But the friends were only there when I had the drugs to supply them with. I didn't realize this until several years later.
At age 19, I went to work for the State Fire Service instead of the small city department I was with. It gave me a lot of time to spend with the love of my life, Stacy. During the spring of 1987, while I was at the State Fire Academy for my annual refresher training, my mother was killed in a vehicle accident. It took a relative three days to locate me. I took her death very hard. Dealing with her loss and all the vultures in the family coming out of the woodwork took its toll on me. I went on a two week drunk after the funeral. I had to take a month off from the fire department. I did nothing but curse God for taking my mom's life.
A year later I married my girlfriend of three years. Both Stacy and I started to use cocaine along with our use of alcohol and pot. It was our way of escaping from life. In November 1989, I suffered the final blow that ended life as I knew it. While at a working house fire, my engine company was on the roof when part of the roof collapsed. I fell 35 feet to the ground, landing on my back and severely injuring it. After this I had nothing but hatred for God and everything around me. I was smoking pot every day, using cocaine, crank, and my prescription medication. My alcohol use was continual. My life was totally consumed in this.
Finally, Stacy had enough, and she left me. Three months later we got divorced. I didn't want to lose her, but I knew she was better off without me. I was still madly in love with her, but the alcohol and drugs had taken over.
In April 1992, I was at the bar. I got into an argument with another drunk. The bartender told him to leave and he did. An hour later I decided to go home. When I got outside the guy was sitting on my truck. We started to argue and fight. I ended up killing him during the fight. I was in the county jail for three weeks feeling suicidal and going through withdrawals, when a deputy witnessed to me about Jesus. I still had too much hatred toward God. I felt that if God or Jesus cared about me, then why did all these things happen in my life?
A couple of weeks latter I decided to read the Bible and see what all was in it. What was so special about this so-called God? As I read it I felt a calming sensation come over me. Three days later I went to chapel services. As I listened to the chaplain I felt good about myself for the first time. During the service I asked Jesus Christ into my heart as my Lord and Saviour. I felt so good; the pressures were lifted from my shoulders. Knowing the wonderfulness of Jesus' love, forgiveness, and many other blessings was great.
I was sent to state prison on a 15 years to life sentence for my crime. I was at a level 4 prison for three months when God blessed me with an opportunity to serve Him as the Chaplain's Clerk on my facility. I felt my prayers answered. I asked the Lord to allow me to serve Him. This was a great way to serve Him. I grew to know Him more and more, as well as helping others grow and know Him better also. Since that time, I have been transferred to a Level 3 prison and again the Lord has blessed me by placing me in the Chaplain's Office as the Senior Clerk.
I am grateful for the deputy that first witnessed to me. He was a true messenger of Christ. I feel that if he hadn't been led to me by the Lord I most likely would be dead now. I give all things to the Lord and praise His holy name for His greater glory. I have found great joy working for the Lord and even though I am in prison, I am free in Christ. At this time in my life it is for God's glory I am here.