We are continuing our energetic and informative discussion with Marvin “Merv” Mattair. It’s been inspiring to hear about the things that he is doing in his community of Madison County, FL – reaching into a youth culture and making a lasting impact in their lives.
Merv is living proof that if you are faithful, God will come alongside you… and he is 100 times more faithful than we can ever imagine!
As Merv famously wrote, “You Prayed While I Played: A Message From the Once Lost Brother”, which speaks of God’s faithfulness, answered prayers, redemption and so much more.
As Merv puts it: very few young men are taught to be faithful. Instead, they are taught to “sow their royal oats”. These same young men learn to take pride in that and this sleeping around with one girl after another makes them feel like “a man”. They feel as though they are protected by using condoms, and therefore they can do whatever they want to do, however they want to do it, with whomever they want to do it with. But, the fact is that it takes a mere 21 days to form a habit. It takes less than a month of going from one party to another, sleeping with one girl than another… all in the name of having fun, before a hard-to-break-habit is formed.
Then, when this young man decides to settle down with one woman, this habit is incredibly difficult to break. Add to that the use of condoms as some sort of “sports equipment”, it makes it that much easier to tip toe out behind your woman’s back and become a professional cheater.
It never fails. We see it time and time again.
The young man says he loves his wife, but he has a habit that is incredibly difficult to deal with.
This is why Merv works so hard to nip the problem in the bud. He and his team works with young men before the habits are created. He lets them into his own life and shows them how he faithfully loves his wife and only his wife.
When Merv was walking in those cheatin’ player shoes, he thought he was doing right. He would cheat on his wife, then tell her he loves her, buy her flowers, ask her to forgive him… then go right back out and do it again. He was losing the fight in the ring of sin. Sticking and moving, ducking and dodging was his thing while in the ring, but nobody ever wins in that fight. Nobody.
Yet, his wife prayed for him nonstop. As Merv wrote:
“Your Sincere Prayers penetrating through the clouds,
Over several planets, & over anotha,
Until they reached Jehovah,
Then made manifested on the conscious of a lost Brotha”
She never gave up on Merv. She prayed for him constantly. She prayed, which encouraged him to pray. She prayed some more, which spurred Merv on to pray more. He didn’t stop playing around initially, but eventually, they began to pray together and he began to look into God’s Word what it meant to be a man, instead of what he had been taught growing up. Even within the context of Christian churches, he had seen men cheat on their wives. In Merv’s eyes, it’s just the way life went. Finally, he saw the hypocrisy for what it was. He recognized the calling the God had put on his life and the gift that God had given him in his wife!
As an answer to her dutiful prayers, they are married today and serving God together!
As Merv says, it’s amazing what a man can do when He decides to let go of the things of this world, stops giving into his sinful urges and allow God to transform him.
Instead of glorifying the “black-to-white” stories, I wish more time was spent in churches glorifying the stories that say, “I grew up in the same ‘hit-it-and-quit-it culture – the same fallen world – that everyone else did, but I chose to flee from temptation and not sin. I walked hard after my God everyday.”
THAT is the harder testimony.
Turning to God after years of addiction, sleeping around, alcohol and drugs… that’s the easy choice to make. But walking hard after God every single day, with temptations all around you in a culture that says to do something different than what God wants… do what YOU want, THAT’S the hard testimony.
That’s the story we need to be sharing with our kids. We need to encourage them that it is possible to follow God’s path everyday and not stray.