My name is Mathew Speakman. I grew up in Pleasant Grove, AL, a suburb of Birmingham, AL. I have been exposed to Christianity and the Gospel since I was young. Like many children that grow up in the “Bible Belt”, I have had Bible stories read and recited to me as long as I can remember. My family attended church some, but we did not stay at any one church for a long period of time. I accepted Christ and was baptized when I was eight years old. I had no idea what that meant or what the ramifications for such a decision were. I believe I just did what I thought was the “right thing” to do. This lack of transformation is evidenced by my teenage and young adult years that were full of rebellion and sin. I began drinking and using drugs when I was in high school. By twenty I was addicted to prescription drugs and anything else that would provide a momentary high. I lived in total opposition to God's Word. The teaching I received in my youth must have stuck with me, for by His grace God revealed to me my folly. I knew if I turned to Him, He would deliver me just as His Word promises.
When I was twenty, God set my feet on a crossroads. It took failing college, totaling several vehicles, and nearly dying of an overdose to bring me to rock bottom. I was at the end of my rope with my addictions and my relationships when I fell in love with a beautiful young lady named Marilyn. In spite of everyone's advice and anything resembling common sense, she agreed to allow me to court her. I still clung to my sinful lifestyle, but God began to pursue me. For the first time I felt guilty, convicted even, of my sin. I saw in her the regenerated heart and a transformed spirit that I had not seen in myself. She encouraged me to attend church, to read the Word, and look to the living God for deliverance. My choices were clear, continue on in sin and perish, or choose life.
After several months of dating, Marilyn convinced me to go to church with her. We went on a Sunday night to a place called the Vineyard. I don't even remember what the sermon was about that night, or if it was even any good. I only remember that during the whole procession I felt an irresistible pull to go down front and request prayer for deliverance. When I went down, the pastors and deacons laid their hands on me and prayed for some time. I was cut to the heart. I laid all my sin, all my addictions, all my past at the feet of the cross. I trusted Christ for my deliverance and eternal hope. The door was open for me to be free from the rebellion that plagued my early years. Now all those stories I heard as a child made sense. Hallelujah, I was finally free from my sin!
Since that day, I have been miraculously drug free. By God's powerful provision, I have grown tremendously in my walk with God, but it was not without struggles. The first years of my married life I was still focused on myself and my own agenda. In typical American fashion I called myself a Christian, but my life was about me. It was indistinguishable from every other casual, complacent church member. I have been a church member since 2004, but it was not until three years ago that it all began to come together for me. I was asked by our pastor to teach adult Sunday School. At first I resisted, but the pastor was persistent and I caved. It was a struggle at first to conquer my nerves and my inadequate knowledge of the Word. I am not a man of great oratory skill, so teaching in a group setting was difficult. Nevertheless, something strange and unexpected began to happen. The more I dove in to the Word, the more I desired to delve deeper and learn more. I started listening to and following what I was teaching. The words my pastor so passionately preached began to make sense. I broke down in repentance for my life of lukewarm, worldly, Christianity. I committed my life, and the life of my family as a blank check for God's Glory. Now I hunger and thirst for His Word like I never could have imagined. God has reordered all of my life's goals, plans and dreams. My relationships have been renewed. I am currently a deacon, Sunday School teacher, I am involved in a drug ministry, and I am working towards a religion degree. I believe God will use my testimony to reach those who find themselves in the darkness of addiction; a place that only Yahweh can deliver a person from.