Every Tribe, Every Tongue
Born to missionary parents and the youngest of five, Christopher Mattix was raised in Bolivia and speaks both English and Spanish. After completing a dual bachelor’s degree at Emmaus Bible College in Iowa, he returned to Bolivia to serve the Lord. He married his wife Genesis in 2018 and, together, they serve in many ways, including teaching, preaching, writing, and ministering in schools and colleges. His first book, Confessions of an Inquisitor, became an international bestseller in Spanish (also available in English).
Tell us about your family.
As the youngest of five, and separated by eight years from my nearest sibling, I was the “accidental blessing” and also the spoiled one (so they tell me!). We were all born and raised in Camiri, Bolivia. Our parents, Mark and Carol, continue living and working as full-time missionaries there, even after nearly 50 years.
My eldest brother is the “black sheep of the family” in a way. We love him deeply and always pray for him, hoping he will someday soon return to a relationship with the Lord.
The next four of us have all become missionaries across the globe. My brother Jesse and his family are serving in the jungles of Peru, my other brother Jerry and his family serve in Northern Cyprus, while travelling often all over Europe and, last but not least, my sister with her family serve in Tanzania, near the border with Burundi, in one of the poorest areas of the world.
This is obviously hard on my parents, specifically my mom, to not be able to see her children and grandchildren on a regular basis, but as we like to say: “We can catch up in heaven.”
One of the greatest gifts my parents gave me was the ability to enjoy the ministry with them. I took classes in Spanish and later homeschooled in English, before finishing my studies at boarding school. I still have good friends from my youth and am fluent both in language and culture with my friends in Bolivia. This is not normal for missionary kids, and I know I am privileged to feel so fully American yet Bolivian.
What encouragement can you give our readers who may also have a friend, family member or loved one who is not walking with the Lord?
Having someone in one’s family or close circle who was once walking with the Lord and then, for some reason, drifts away can really hurt. Here are a few things to take note of. First of all, everyone is responsible for their own choices, and while parents, siblings and close friends can often be a positive or negative force, they are rarely the central cause behind someone’s choice to leave the faith. Secondly, we don’t need to bear the burden of being “perfect”, because that is not only impossible but can lead us down dangerous roads of pride, depression or even cause us to drift away ourselves.
When trying to help someone who has left the church, compassion is essential. Try to find out why they left by genuinely listening to them, without giving any unwanted advice. Never force them to return nor make them feel like an outcast. Make sure they know that you still love and care for them, and that this is independent of whether or not they want to continue being part of the church. Remember, God changes hearts, not us.
When trying to help someone who has left the church, compassion is essential. Never force them to return nor make them feel like an outcast
If the clock could be turned back, what changes (if any) would you want to make in your own personal preparation for service?
That’s a pretty loaded question, and I know that our knee-jerk reaction is often to feel guilty about the past and wish things were different. In my life, there were certain times when I really wanted something to go my way, and God clearly didn’t allow it. This obviously made me very angry and incredibly frustrated. Yet, looking back now, I can say: “Thank you, Lord, for ignoring those stubborn prayers!”
The Lord’s ways are perfect. Sure, we can mess them up and make many mistakes, but just as Joseph told his brothers: “You meant it for evil, but God has used it for good.” God has mysterious and wonderful way of making sure all things “work together for good”, so long as we continue to trust Him and don’t commit Abraham and Sarah’s mistake of “helping God out” when things seem to take too long.
As far as preparation goes, I was so eager to get on the mission field once I graduated, that I turned down some pretty exciting opportunities for a master’s degree. My wife is now encouraging me to think of doing one, and it feels like a good idea, once we get more settled.
My takeaway is: don’t get education just because of a title, but because you actually want to learn something and glorify God with it. As I like to say: “Some of the most horrible people in the world are those who have a lot in their head, but the artery to their heart is blocked.”
What are the challenges you face in your mission field?
With our ministry likely moving from Bolivia to a multicultural one in the US in the future, our challenges are mostly personal.
That said, I’ve worked in Bolivia as a missionary for over eight years now, and I would say the biggest challenges include legalism in the churches, a lack of teamwork individually and among each other, and a need for future church leaders to have more vision about what the Lord can do here. There are well over 400 Brethren churches in Bolivia, and the potential is there to really have a great impact on our country.
There are well over 400 Brethren churches in Bolivia, but some of our biggest challenges are legalism and a lack of visionary leaders in the church
Another aspect is our culture, which is very similar to other parts of Latin America. Things like chronic lying, lack of trust, envy, and few available resources are some of the things that limit our potential. Many non-Brethren churches, who share our goals and doctrine, also have these issues. Too many leaders are far too old and/or unprepared. We are praying that this may change, and those who come behind them will learn from their mistakes.
For those of us who have similar struggles in our church, what are some constructive interventions we can take to be part of the solution?
The most important thing, of course, is to “practise what we preach” and ensure we are taking a good look at ourselves in the mirror before judging others. We cannot change others. We can only change ourselves with the Lord’s help.
With regards to chronic lying, setting up accountability in ways that take away the temptation to lie is important to make sure we are all true to our word. With regards to a lack of trust, we must understand social skills are deteriorating, especially with the younger generation. This is caused by our dependence on our devices and our preference for instant messaging instead of face-to-face communication. This can lead to superficial relationships, with skin-deep conversations and an overall lack of genuine friendships.
How do we fix it? We can take more time to form true relationships, focusing on the quality of friends and not the quantity. Taking time to do things together, not just for fun, but also to get to know each other deeply. Lastly, I would say something my father taught me: “Trust breeds trust”. If we want good friends, we must be good friends. If we want others to trust us, then we should be trustworthy.
How can we pray for you?
We are waiting for Genesis to receive her Green Card, and eager to begin scheduling conferences and a book tour in the US. We started the process back in May 2018! So, please pray for us, for the process to continue smoothly and for patience and wisdom. Also, that the Lord would show us where He would have us minister long-term, be it in the US, back in Bolivia or even somewhere else.
What is your favorite quote?
“Only one life to live, t’will soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” — C.T. Studd
CMML Mission Update Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SE6vql2e_PM&list=PLRqReuHN23i9tJruBJ18 hf8YSliYPDkEq&index=16&t=0s
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