Mission Partner, Matt Hutchcraft’s Testimony
My name is Matt Hutchcraft and I have been a ministry partner with NorthRidge for more than 15 years. I am going to share my story in a couple of parts: Personal background, spiritual journey, and what God is doing now. My favorite things to do are play soccer, hunt, and fish. I also love teaching and facilitating groups and helping others explore and discover who God is and what He is like. I will say it’s so cool how God took all my passions and has given me opportunity to use them to bring Him glory!
I am the oldest son of a Pastor (yep a Pastor’s kid)! I will say that in some regards I was the stereotypical “PK.” I grew up in a Christian home to 1st generation Christian parents. My Dad was a pastor for most of my growing up years and we lived in several interesting places. All of them had varying degrees of impact, but some of my favorite were St. Louis where we attended a church that was 1/3 African Americans, 1/3 upper middle-class white American, and 1/3 Messianic Jews. It taught me the importance of diversity and love for all God’s people. This church was a great place for us to grow up and be around people who really loved God and loved each other well. My next favorite place was in Oklahoma on a boy’s ranch outside of Tulsa. My Dad was the chaplain/spiritual mentor for the boys sentenced there by the courts. What kid would not love living on a working ranch with real cowboys and all the nature and wide-open spaces a boy could want? Here I learned that everyone deserves the chance to repent and to have God change who they are. These boys were not good guys, but I saw in some cases that they were changed and transformed by a real encounter with Jesus when God’s people, loved and modeled well what obedience and grace is all about.
In High school and college, I would say my faith was challenged and even more routine than faith at certain points. I moved out at 16 to follow my love and passion—soccer! Once on my own, I had to choose what part God would play in my life, and although I went to a Christian bible college, I was just going through the motions. My faith was adrift in a sea of questions, desires to see what the world really had to offer, and frustration with all the hypocrisy of the church. When God’s people live out consistently what God says about them, they are light and a beacon, and an attractive testimony for God. But when they cease to love, when they start to show favoritism and a different standard and expectation for different people in the church, they become the most destructive and powerful weapon Satan has in his arsenal. They do his work for him and become the best anti-advertisement for God and who God really is. I was for all intents and purposes in real trouble. The breaking point came when my grandfather on my dad's side (or the only man I knew as Grandpa), committed suicide. I was shaken, confused, and broken. I was always closer with my grandfathers than my grandmas, and when one died at the age of 12 of natural causes, I remember being sad, but I found comfort in my parents and in God. But in college when my other grandfather committed suicide, it was devasting! How could this happen? Why was he so sad and depressed and why couldn’t I help him? I started to feel a bit like Job, saying things like, “God where are you, why didn’t you save him?”
After college, and with some help from godly men and gracious patience on the part of God, I started to come back. I was newly married and a year later we had a baby on the way—it was time! I had to decide: was I in or out? God used many things to bring me back to a full and loving relationship with Him, but He also started to change my heart. He used the characteristics he had created me with to bring about deep growth. In particular, my deep sense of right and wrong, justice, and God absolutely being who He said He is! After the birth of our first child, God was about to put forth the challenge and it was time to commit. Our little church that we had been members at (and that Jaci and I were involved in leadership with) went through a horrible and very painful church split. We lost almost everyone, and it was terrible. But God used it to bring an older, well experienced interterm pastor to us. This man had as part of his passion a love for the Russian people and several trips under his belt to boot. It was through a long series of events that Jaci and I found ourselves leaving a 2-year-old here with my parents in the states and heading for Russia to adopt what we thought was our kid. The adoption never happened and although we were sure God wanted us to help the orphans of Russia, I never would have imagined what God would do next. I remember coming home after that first trip and wrestling nightly with God, the dreams were so real and vivid. The need so great, the scripture so obvious. God loves the orphan and the defenseless person, and he advocated their case and cared for their needs. I challenged God: “If You are who You say You are, and You do what You say You will do, well, then God, you must do something about this, you must send someone to help.” The answer shot back like an arrow through my heart and soul: “Fine, I CHOOSE YOU!”
What God is doing now
In the last 15 years, God has had us living in dozens of places. We have lived in 3 countries, and almost three continents (we lived on the Europe/Asia border), traveling to over 18 countries around the world, and now God has called us back to the Twin Cities to engage the lost and most needy parts of our communities in the Twin Cities metro, to mobilize God’s people to join Him on His mission, and to help train them to be good and faithful disciples who are equipped for every good work. We seek to establish reproducing churches among the least reached that are themselves then reproducing!
Over 44 years of life, God has been with me through the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. God has been there. There are literally thousands more stories I could share. I can’t say it was always easy (I often made it harder than it needed to be!) and yet God in His grace, mercy, and love never let me go and never let me down. God takes us all on a journey and these are just a few of the many moments that God carried us through. We are blessed to be a part of the NorthRidge family, and we are trusting God for the biggest of things for, in and through all of you!