It was my wonderful privilege to have a dear, dear brother in Christ in my home as a guest last weekend. Actually, Matt Bohlman arrived at O'Hare Airport on Friday morning, and left on Monday evening...so it was about four days...and what a great time it was!
Matt had never been to the Windy City before last weekend, and he fell in love with this great town almost immediately. I knew he would.
Matt is 15 years my junior. We met some ten years ago when he was a student at Lee University, and I was a student at the adjoining Church of God Theological Seminary.
It was a rather unusual--actually it was God--way of meeting. We've both been very eager to tell this story over the years.
It was a Sunday afternoon, and we were both in the Squires Library, which both the seminary and the university share. We were downstairs, using the computer labs, and the power went out all of a sudden. I was sitting at the computer next to Matt--having never seen him before, and knew nothing about him. All of a sudden, I distinctly heard the LORD speak to me and say, "His name is Matt, and tell him he is going to South Africa this summer."
Now, I am absolutely convinced that God gives such words of knowledge/prophecy to His followers today--even though it's not an everyday occurrence. Before this ever happened to me on this day, I knew that God worked in these types of ways, using His children with spiritual gifts as He so desires.
But still, I was a bit nervous. I kept looking over at Matt, and wanting to say something, but being very hesitant. I kept hearing the Lord say to me, "His name is Matt, and tell him he is going to South Africa this summer." After hearing this for the third time, I decided that I would just tell this "complete stranger" what I felt the Lord was telling me.
I leaned over and asked if I could tell him something. He said, "Sure." I asked if his name was Matt or Matthew, and he said "Yes, it is. Who are you?" I gave him my name, and said that I felt the Lord wanted him to know something, and I wasn't sure how to show it. I asked him to discern what I was about to tell him, and that if I was completely off the mark, for him to just ignore me as another "charismatic kook."
That very morning Matthew had been praying and weeping before the Lord, wanting direction as to what he should be doing when the semester was over, and he would be on summer break. He felt that South Africa was in the plan, and was praying towards that goal. But he wasn't sure when, or how this would all happen. He was asking God to give him some clarification. And the Lord was using me, as scared as I was, to confirm His call to Matt's plans for South Africa that summer.
After I told Matthew what I felt the Lord wanted me to say to him, he was almost weeping. I also said, "your plans are not going to come together right away--as a matter of fact, it may be at the last possible moment, but the Lord will make a way, and everything, including your finances will fall in place for this trip."
While Matt was here in Chicago, we had a couple of opportunities to fellowship with some of the people that are very dear and special to me here in the area. Matt shared part of the story that I had never heard until this past weekend:
One day before he needed to buy his ticket to South Africa for this trip, he was weeping and telling his mother how he needed $1000 dollars to finish all the expenses--he was working three jobs at the time, and just couldn't seem to come up with the cash that he needed.
His mother was tutoring a 12-year old Korean boy in her home at the time. This young kid heard Matt's story being told to his mother. That night, this young boy called his father (a surgeon in South Korea) and told his Buddhist father about his friend who needed $1000 dollars for a trip to South Africa to help people in an orphanage for the summer.
The Korean doctor couldn't sleep at all that night--and wired the money to the United States the next day....to his son, to take to Matt Bohlman's mother.
Matt comes home that day, and the young boy (with his aunt) is waiting for him to arrive. He hands Matthew an envelope with TEN 100 dollar bills in it, saying "My father in South Korea wants you to have this. He could not sleep last night, and God told him to send you the money."
I'm almost in tears just relating this wonderful, wonderful story of God's leading and provision in my precious friend's life.
Since that time (some ten years ago) Matt has graduated from Lee, and also from the seminary at Liberty University in Virginia. He has also ministered in Israel, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, and in Jordan among the Iraqi refugees. He served in the barrios of New York City for a while as well. For the last year, he has ministered as a fourth grade teacher in a Christian school in Bangkok, Thailand. He went for two months, and stayed for twelve months. He is in the United States for a few months now, and will be returning to Thailand in late July/early August.
He's my hero in many, many ways. He's a faithful friend. He's a wonderful, godly, gracious, praying man. And I continue to thank God that our paths crossed one stormy Sunday afternoon when the computers went down in a college library.
When you pray, please pray for my great friend Matt Bohlman. I will be so thankful, and I'm sure he will also.