Cheryl Matute is living a new life, speaking with the enthusiasm we all wish to have at the beginning of a new year. In addition to being a young wife and mother, Cheryl is also a young Christian. Her story is an encouragement to believers of all ages as we move into 2021 remembering God’s consistent pursuit of His children, His healing touch, and His forgiveness.
Prior to May 13, 2020, the day Cheryl surrendered to Christ, she describes herself as “broken pottery.”
Cheryl grew up in Honduras, in the care of her mother, and estranged from her father, who left when Cheryl was just 2. Nothing unusual, we might say. Worldwide, nearly one in seven children (about 320 million) under the age of 18 lives in a single-parent household. What was unusual, Cheryl says, was the feeling that God was pursuing her from her teen years on, wooing her into His family.
“I lived with my Aunt Nilda as a teenager. She watched a pastor named Adrian Rogers. He would come on the TV from Love Worth Finding. I could feel God pursuing me in a very real way.” Cheryl says she suppressed that feeling, running from God through her teenage years, through the months she spent with her father when he brought her to the U.S. at age 18, and through the five years that she lived with an uncle in Louisiana. She married, moved to Tennessee, became a mother, and kept running.
She ran right into God again—at Love Worth Finding.
“We did our banking in Bartlett, TN. One day I’m at the bank and I see the Love Worth Finding office right behind me. I can’t believe this! I felt God was leading me to give, so I got a cashier’s check and walked right into the (LWF) office.”
Cheryl connected with Dawn Mason, executive assistant to LWF CEO Cary Vaughn. Dawn and Cheryl immediately struck up a friendship. Cheryl began attending Dawn’s church.
“God was working on me,” Cheryl says. “When I had my daughter (Lina, 4), that broke me in a beautiful way. I had pure love in my heart. I started looking at the world differently. I was beginning to soften. Then I started going to church.”
Cheryl says the reason she was resisting God’s forgiveness was that she was resisting her own need to forgive her parents. “I’ve struggled with forgiveness all of my life,” she says. I read Forgiving My Father, Forgiving Myself by Ruth Graham. I learned I didn’t deserve forgiveness but grace makes that possible.”
Over the course of several months, Cheryl felt herself coming closer to Christ: “I told the Lord I was fearful to come to Him. I finally said, ‘Father I accept you as my Lord and Savior.’ I felt a rush over my body and I knew at that moment that God had saved me when I surrendered myself to Him. When you learn to just give yourself over to God you experience such peace. Nothing on this earth—food, sleep—nothing compares.”
“I told my Aunt Nilda and she was ecstatic,” Cheryl says. “I thank her so much. This was God’s plan for my life. He placed her there at my broken point. She had given me an LWF New Testament. LWF is dear to my heart because that’s how it started.”
Now, Cheryl says, she has new motivation to love her husband as God intended and to train her daughter in the way she should go.
“Just think,” she says, “it all started with LWF so many years ago in another country.”