Some of you know that my son Matthew is a church planter in Streamwood, Illinois. This past Lord's Day I had my first opportunity to preach for Matt, who is away on vacation with his family. I will preach for him again next Sunday, May 17, the day after he returns. This means that we will share ministry together in this public way for the first time ever. I can't begin to describe what a joy and honor this will be for me as his father.
I was introduced last Sunday (May 10) by Matt's father-in-law, Ed Vega. Ed shared how he knew me and then when and how he met Matt for the first time. He said, after first meeting Matt, "I would love to see my daughter marry a young man like Matt." When I first heard about Adriana Vega I called her pastor and said, "Tell me about this young woman." My friend said, "John, she is as good as it gets. She would make a great wife for the right man." Well, Matt and Adriana have shared thirteen years together and they are a great couple and have a great ministry with people, both of them.
I spent some time sharing personally with one of the newer converts at New Hope Community. This brother is 66 years old. He was a life long Roman Catholic who had never understood the need for saving, personal faith in Christ alone. He has not become an anti-Catholic at all but he is now alive in Christ. And he is so moved by what God has done in his life now that he is a "new" creation in the most magnificent way. We talked about how his wider family cannot understand what has happened to him. I was encouraged that he is not judgmental toward them but open and prayerful. I often meet new converts who easily despise their Catholic family and their Catholic training and past. Thankfully this brother has not been taught this way and is part of the larger missional effort that New Hope is a part of in Streamwood. This expression of Christ;s kingdom includes the local Roman Catholic Church, which meets next door to the park district building where New Hope gathers each Lord's Day morning.One of Matt's very good friends is a deacon there.
Someone asked me today, "What exactly do you (i.e. me and ACT 3) do?" I answered, "I attempt to equip leaders to experience unity in Christ's mission." They said, "What does that look like?" I answered, not pridefully I hope, "Just like Matt Armstrong and New Hope." Matt expresses a deep ancient-future faith in a missional context with a profound commitment to Christian unity among all the churches in his community. He has deep friendships with the leaders of all the churches (save one fundamentalist church that fellowships with no other local church in Streamwood) and is involved in seeking to transform the city for Christ. I could not have a better son!