Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sailing Missionaries Answer New Call; They're Selling Boat, Joining Bible Ministry to Aid Translators in Papua New Guinea

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Sailing Missionaries Answer New Call; They're Selling Boat, Joining Bible Ministry to Aid Translators in Papua New Guinea

Article excerpt

Byline: Beth Reese Cravey

Tim and Gina Matthews had never sailed but felt compelled by a higher power to buy a sailboat.

The Palm Coast couple - he's 54, she's 49 and they have been married six years - wanted to spend their retirement in mission work. But they had no clear vision of where to go or what to do. They figured a sailboat would take them wherever they were supposed to be.

"We looked at several different options and places to serve, but we quickly saw that we loved everywhere we looked - Costa Rica, Panama - so we made a decision to buy a sailboat. That way we could go anywhere God wanted to send us, even though we had never sailed," said Gina Vidamo Matthews, who grew up in Atlantic Beach.

They bought a 30-foot catamaran and gave away almost everything else they owned. The day after Christmas 2010, after one sailing lesson, they set off for an undetermined destination.

"We left the dock ... only knowing that we were heading south," she said. "Every place we anchored, we looked for the steeple of the closest church, and we would go and ask if we could serve in any way."

They spent four months in Stuart, feeding the homeless and serving in a nursing home ministry, among other things. They then headed for the Bahamas and ended up at Man O'War Cay, a 2 1/2-mile-long island in the Abaco region, where Tim Matthews helped build an orphanage and his wife volunteered and then taught at a one-room schoolhouse.

They now are preparing to change course again. By January, after months of training and arranging financial and prayer partners, they will relocate to Papua New Guinea to provide maritime support for Orlando-based Wycliffe Bible Translators USA.

A year ago, the couple sailed back to Stuart, where they met several other missionary couples. One couple told them about Wycliffe, and they went online to find out more.

"I learned that over 180 million people still did not have a Bible in a language they could understand. I was shocked," Gina Matthews said.

They also learned about the urgent need of safe maritime transportation for Wycliffe's translators. …

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