(The Story of Matt Dodds by Mary Alysse Dodds)
I went to a Campus Crusade Bible study maybe twice my first semester of college. I did it just to tell my mom I was part of a Christian group. I wanted to make my mom happy. When I got the emails announcing gatherings I was sure to say if I had an excuse.
“Oh, I’m sorry I can’t make it. I have an exam.” But I just ignored them if I didn’t have an excuse. I pretended to be a Christian because that’s what a non-Christian does in a Christian group. And I guess I thought I was a Christian, but I didn’t really think about Jesus much.
It was a lonely semester. I was homesick and missed my family. I was miserable and hated being away at school.
Christmas break only made it worse. After three weeks of holidays and spending time with family, I had to go back. I was depressed. A couple weeks later, I got a call that my best friend had been in a car accident. He was in a coma, and they had no idea whether he would live.
The news wrecked me. Here I am away at school. I can’t even be near my best friend who is dying.
That Wednesday I got to Bible study a half hour early. (I’m never early.) I sat by a window in the empty room and cried. A leader came over and asked what was wrong.
I pulled it together, “My best friend was in a terrible accident. He might die during this meeting.” After the meeting they asked for prayer requests. The leader asked the group to pray for my friend.
Without me even having to ask for prayer, the whole group gathered around me and prayed for my friend. Most of them prayed for me to follow Jesus too. Sitting in the middle, I realized this is Jesus. I have to follow him.
I’d given these people nothing but excuses for why I didn’t want to hang out with them. But I could feel how much they cared about me. I’d been fake, insincere, and distant. But the moment I expressed a need, they loved without expecting anything in return.
I’d been so naïve, ignored reality, and just did my own thing. I thought I was a good person with a good life. I was a Penn State wrestler and was double majoring in nuclear and mechanical engineering. But you can die in an instant. One of my best friends was dying.
I saw death. It dissolved my childish optimism. I saw love. Selfless love from people I had dismissed and pushed away. And I knew, I need to seriously follow Jesus.
After that I hardly missed a meeting. I got involved in Campus Crusade outreaches and leadership. I lead Bible studies and discipled others. I realized there was more to life than me. And I became obsessed with sharing the love I’d received.
(Miraculously my best friend recovered completely.)
Matt Dodds is a husband (mine), engineer, adventurer, and loyal friend. If he’s not working on satellite heat pipes, he’s probably talking math or science, doing something active like jujitsu, studying Spanish or programming, playing video games, or kindly doing absolutely nothing with his wife.