Finding Freedom in Christ: A Journey of Redemption from Homosexuality | Matthew Karchner

Show Notes

Matthew Karchner’s life took an unexpected turn in the depths of his struggles. What seemed like a path diverging from his faith catalyzed a profound transformation. But how did he reconcile his homosexuality with his commitment to God’s Word? Join us as we unravel the twists and turns of Matthew’s journey, discovering how he found redemption and purpose in an unlikely place. Brace yourself for a story that will challenge your preconceptions and leave you pondering the boundless depths of God’s love.

“He who has been forgiven much loves much.” – Matthew Karchner

My special guest is Matthew Karchner

Matthew Karchner is an American missionary with a compelling story centered in Cambodia’s heartland. Originally from Pennsylvania, his Christian upbringing didn’t shield Matthew from freight-train-like temptations but strengthened his eventual escape from this lifestyle. This escape occurred 13 years ago when Matthew’s life took a spiritual U-turn, leading him to the people of Cambodia. His primary goal? Reach out to the young LGBTQ+ Cambodians, a group hugely neglected by mainstream Christian ministries. Matthew uses his past experiences to heal others and spread God’s word.

The Church: We Shoot Our Wounded (Straight Book 3)

By Karchner, Matthew

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This is Matthew Karchner’s story:

Matthew Karchner’s journey began in the heartland of central Pennsylvania. Raised in a Christian home, he found himself led astray by his own heart’s deceptions, living a gay lifestyle that opposed his faith. But Matthew’s life took an unexpected turn when he was brought to his knees by a series of unfortunate circumstances. This was a turning point, a moment of divine intervention that led him to surrender his life to Jesus Christ 13 years ago. His newfound faith inspired him to relocate to the far corners of Southeast Asia, where he now thrives as a missionary in Cambodia. Matthew’s mission is to reach out to the unreached communities, particularly those within the LGBT community, using his journey of redemption as a testament to God’s grace. His story is a gentle reminder that even in the face of adversity, faith can provide a beacon of hope and a path toward salvation.

In this episode, you will be able to:

  • Journey through Matthew Karchner’s enlightening transition from a conventional corporate world to a purpose-driven life as a missionary.
  • Grasp the tactic of addressing homosexuality without deviating from God’s Word.
  • Recognize humility’s vital role in bearing witness to Christian faith and gospel proliferation.
  • Imbibe the invaluable principle of sacrificial love that lies at the heart of Christian parental care and ministry work.
  • Comprehend the profound significance of missionary labor and the necessity for a divine call from God.

Praying for Repentance and Long-term Gain

We often think about prayer as a way to seek help or blessings. But at its core, prayer is aligning our will with God’s will. It’s about seeking God’s mercy, praying for repentance, and believing in His power to transform us. This practice forms the basis for our spiritual growth and takes us one step closer to our spiritual goals. In sharing his own story, Matthew highlighted the role of his parents’ prayers in his journey to repentance. Matthew’s transformation did not occur overnight. It required continuous prayers, patience, and a lot of grace. Matthew’s journey thus serves as a clear-cut example of the power of prayer, showing us how God can use the blessings of faithful parents to change the course of their children’s lives.

The Importance of Humility and Acknowledging Sin


Humility is recognizing our limitations, flaws, and the fact that we are not always right. This virtue allows us to have an open mind, teaches us to accept others, and brings about an appreciation for the diversity that exists in our world. In the Christian faith, acknowledging one’s sinfulness is an essential step towards redemption. Matthew Karchner’s approach to humility is firmly rooted in his Christian perspective. He cites his struggle with sin and redemption through God’s grace as a testimony to humanity’s universal battle against evil. Humility, as he pointed out, should be the basis upon which we engage with every individual—whether they identify as LGBTQ+ or not. He says acknowledging our shared struggle against sin opens doors for meaningful conversations and connections with others.

Praying for Repentance and Long-term Gain


We often think about prayer as a way to seek help or blessings. But at its core, prayer is aligning our will with God’s will. It’s about seeking God’s mercy, praying for repentance, and believing in His power to transform us. This practice forms the basis for our spiritual growth and takes us one step closer to our spiritual goals. In sharing his own story, Matthew highlighted the role of his parents’ prayers in his journey to repentance. Matthew’s transformation did not occur overnight. It required continuous prayers, patience, and a lot of grace. Matthew’s journey thus serves as a clear-cut example of the power of prayer, showing us how God can use the blessings of faithful parents to change the course of their children’s lives.

The resources mentioned in this episode are:

  • Visit Matthew Karchner’s website: You can learn more about Matthew’s ministry and stay updated on his work by visiting his website. Be sure to check out his blog, testimonies, and resources. (Provide the website URL)
  • Support Matthew’s ministry: If you feel led to support Matthew’s mission work in Cambodia, you can donate through his website. Your financial contribution will help him continue sharing the gospel and reaching out to the LGBT community.
  • Share Matthew’s testimony: Matthew’s powerful testimony of how he was delivered from a gay lifestyle can be a source of hope and encouragement for others. Share his story with your friends, family, and church community to spread awareness and inspire others.
  • Pray for Matthew and his ministry: Prayer is vital to supporting missionaries like Matthew. Lift him in prayer, asking God to give him strength, wisdom, and opportunities to reach the LGBT community in Cambodia with the message of hope and redemption.
  • Educate yourself on LGBT issues: Take the time to educate yourself on the struggles and challenges faced by the LGBT community. Read books and articles and watch documentaries to understand their experiences better. This will help you engage in conversations and

Timestamped summary of this episode:


00:00:09 – Introduction,
The host introduces the guest, Matthew Karchner, who is a missionary in Cambodia. Matthew shares his background, including his journey from a gay lifestyle to becoming a missionary. He also talks about his focus on engaging with the LGBT community, which he considers an unreached people group.

00:05:21 – LGBT Community in Cambodia,
The host asks Matthew about the presence of the LGBT community in Cambodia. Matthew explains that homosexuality was not openly visible when he arrived in Cambodia in 2011. Still, it has become more accepted and commonplace over the years, influenced by trends in countries like the United States.

00:09:58 – Cultural Impact and Ministry Approach,
The conversation explores how the cultural acceptance of LGBT issues impacts Matthew’s ministry. He emphasizes the power of personal testimony and the importance of relating to individuals struggling with homosexuality. Matthew acknowledges that his approach may not always be welcomed but believes his testimony can resonate with those open to hearing it.

00:11:21 – Sin and Redemption,
Matthew highlights the universal nature of sin and the need for redemption for all individuals, regardless of their struggles. He emphasizes the role of repentance and faith in Christ, acknowledging that even after conversion, there may still be ongoing battles with desires. Matthew encourages a compassionate and understanding approach towards individuals dealing with homosexuality.

00:13:41 – Loving the LGBT Community,
The conversation concludes with advice on how to love and engage with the LGBT community, even for those.

00:16:14 – The Importance of Humility and Acknowledging Sin,
The guest emphasizes the importance of humility and acknowledging one’s sinfulness. He highlights that every Christian is deserving of hell, and it is only through Christ that they are saved. He also mentions the common sin of pornography and the need for honesty when sharing the gospel.

00:19:08 – Standing Firm on God’s Word,
The guest shares how his parents stood firm on God’s Word when he came out as gay. They chose to love the Lord more than accept his lifestyle. He encourages others to stand on God’s Word and not embrace sin, even when societal pressure is intense.

00:20:49 – Praying for Repentance and Long-term Gain,
The guest’s parents prayed for repentance, even if it meant short-term pain. They wanted his soul in heaven more than his temporary happiness on earth. He emphasizes the need to pray for loved ones struggling with sin and to trust in God’s timing and transformative power.

00:26:41 – Sacrificial Love and Trusting God,
The guest reflects on the sacrificial love of his parents, who were willing to give up their relationship with him to honor God and His Word. He believes that if they had endorsed his lifestyle, he might not have found his way back to God. He encourages others to trust God’s faithfulness and not prioritize temporary happiness over eternal salvation.

00:31:49 – Journey of Faith and Work Challenges,
Matthew discusses his experience working for a department that promoted LGBT diversity and inclusion, which conflicted with his beliefs. He shares his mission to share the gospel and the challenges he faced in the workplace and within the church.

00:34:29 – Struggles with Acceptance,
Matthew opens up about his difficulties in church circles due to his past sins and his unrelatable experiences with homosexuality. He talks about the lack of acceptance and the challenges of sharing his testimony and reaching out to the LGBT community.

00:36:16 – Rejecting Excessive Accountability,
Matthew expresses his aversion to excessive accountability within the church and recounts his decision to create a nonprofit organization instead of joining a missions organization that would control him. He shares his desire for freedom in serving the Lord.

00:38:21 – Ministry in Cambodia,
Matthew talks about his ministry in Cambodia, teaching the youth and establishing relationships with the community. He shares the challenges of ministering in a Buddhist-dominated country and the complexities of language and culture.

00:42:14 – Embracing a Simple Life,
Matthew expresses his gratitude for the simple life in Cambodia, where he can serve the Lord in a small church and enjoy a slower-paced, agricultural-based lifestyle. He praises the kindness of the Cambodian people and the blessings he has experienced in his ministry.

Transcript

00:00:09 – Johnny Sanders
Welcome, everyone, back to another episode of Faithfully Engaged. I’m really happy to have this really neat guest today getting into some fun topics today. His name is Matthew. So Matthew, go ahead and tell the audience just a little bit about yourself and just kind of explaining who you are to the audience today. So, Matthew, it’s good to have you on today.

00:00:34 – Matthew Karchner
Hello, nice to be on the show. My name is Matthew Karchner from central Pennsylvania. Originally. Now I’m over here in Cambodia, which is a country, small country next to Vietnam, pretty far away, and serving as a missionary over here. Started out in 2016, came over to Southeast Asia and did a lot of kind of relational street evangelism, marketplace evangelism, kind of natural flow as the Lord led the foreigner over here sticks out quite a bit. And so in the marketplaces, people want to know, where are you from? Why are you here, and how long have you been here, and can you speak the language and things like that? And so the Lord naturally leads through questions into gospel sharing, testimony, sharing. The Lord delivered me from a gay lifestyle 13 years ago. Praise the Lord. I was born and raised in a Christian home, but followed my deceitful heart into a gay lifestyle. And really, the Lord brought me to my knees in repentance through some really difficult stuff. So today, these days, the Lord leads to share the gospel with anybody he leads me to, but really to focus on those that kind of what we would normally call when people say unreached people groups, you think of tribe people in remote areas, but the LGBT really, for the most part is an unreached people group. And so those that the mainline churches don’t typically go out and really throw arms around. And so that’s kind of my role is to engage those folks, knowing what it feels like, knowing what that deceitful heart feels like and how Satan can deceive and our corrupted human nature. And Satan plays well with that and how convincing those feelings can be, the gender confusion and the same sex attraction and all that. And so there’s compassion there. He who has been forgiven much, loves much. And so that’s been the past 13 years for me. And the Lord recently led to open a church here to plan a small church here in the neighborhood where I’ve been living since 2018, had been teaching the kids in the neighborhood, which is also something that happens typically organically when a missionary comes over here to Southeast Asia, to a country like Cambodia. There was genocide and war here back in the 1970s. About a third of the population roughly was wiped out. And so a lot of the folks here are youth, and youth are much more open, tend to be much more open to the gospel message. Also with today the endorsement of the LGBT agenda kind of around the world, sadly, with the US. Usually leading that charge. There’s also opportunity within a youth ministry to speak against that, to not follow our deceitful hearts. Our hearts are deceivful. The feelings that come into our hearts and the thoughts that come into our heads are not necessarily of the Lord, right? Even after we’ve given our lives to Him and we’re following Him faithfully, we still battle with the flesh within and with Satan’s demonic influence through the so it’s really important to get that message into the minds of youth that they know that the Lord Jesus Christ is greater. He who is in us is greater than he who is in this world. If you surrender your life to Christ, he gives you the power, the supernatural power through the Holy Spirit, indwelling the heart of the believer to fight, to wrestle against that temptation. The Bible says we wrestle not against flesh and blood. So it’s a daily battle. I’m here to look for soldiers, to evangelize like I evangelize to train them up to be combatants against the world and the enemy. And the demonic agenda of today Buddhism is not about 90 for 6% of the population here. About 96% of the population here is reported to be Buddhist. And so that’s also a big amount to climb, you could say. In addition to just the things that everybody battles around the world as coming up in youth and young adulthood, there’s also that indoctrination through school, through family, the teachings of Buddhism and Karma and worship of demons, really literal worship of Satan to appease the demons, to earn merit and good luck and that sort of thing. It’s heavily taught and heavily indoctrinated on the youth here. And so there’s much ministry here, much work to do. Praise the Lord. It’s a really exciting ministry and an exciting place to be called to. I feel so blessed and so thankful to be called to Cambodia.

00:05:05 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, no, thank you for that background information there. And I’m curious on my know here in the United States, of course, as we’re recording, this is this is June, so it’s kind of the Pride month. So stuff is everywhere of just LGBT, things like that. So we come to expect that in the United States, for better or worse. But Cambodia is not a place that I think most people would like. Are is there anybody that’s LGBT over there? So kind of tell us your experience of seeing that unreached people group, like you said, of LGBT specifically in Cambodia. Was that surprising to you, seeing that there, or kind of just walk us through that community specifically in Cambodia?

00:06:02 – Matthew Karchner
Yeah. When you’ve really been brought to your knees, really to the end of yourself, like I was in my past 13 years ago, really brought to the end of myself in addiction and all kinds of stuff, nobody has to remind me that I’m just a sinner saved by grace. You know what I mean? And I think that that’s one thing that’s missing in a lot of the mainline church is that we forget that we’ve been rescued so many years before, and maybe we came to Christ as a kid and never really fell away in a really deep sense, you know what I mean? And so we kind of forget, and we kind of feel like maybe I’ve reached a state of sinless perfection. We’re almost there. It’s like, hey, guys, none of us have, not one man or woman on this entire planet, whether it’s the greatest pastor on Earth or whatever, has reached a state of sinless perfection. So we forget that our thoughts and the intents of our heart and the longing to gossip and do different things, the sins that are approved within the church, we don’t realize that those are also so for me, it was actually the opposite coming over here. I engaged a pastor when we came over here for short term missions and so on. And he was a little bit of a guide the first days and weeks and months. And I said to him on one of the short term missions, I said, what about homosexuality in Cambodia? And he said, we don’t have that here. And I thought, oh, that’s literally impossible. That you don’t have homosexuality in an entire nation. That’s not possible. As of the fall in Genesis, chapter three, it’s everywhere, right? It might not be endorsed and approved everywhere, but it’s in every country, whether it’s Muslim or highly masculine countries or whatever. We like to think there’s homosexuality everywhere. There’s sin everywhere. And so for me, it was opposite. It was kind of like, where is it? I don’t see it openly, so where is it going on? And it’s been interesting because I came here first in 2011 was the first short term mission. There was barely a sign of it. If you looked around on the streets, even in the big capital city, almost nothing, no trace of it. And so sadly, sadly, like I say, I like to take responsibility, accountability. My nation is really leading the charge. Sadly, we were a Christian nation before. Now we’re leading the charge and endorsing all kinds of bizarre sins. And this is one of them. So as the US raises the rainbow flag and announces Pride Month and so on, the other countries are following along, like America and Hollywood and all that’s leading. So it’s becoming more and more approved and accepted in Thailand. Thailand is next to Cambodia, roughly the same culture, but more economically developed, kind of like an older cousin or an uncle to Cambodia. So the folks look up at Thailand like, that’s what I want to be like. And so as it’s being more and more approved in Thailand and becoming more and more normalized, cambodia over the years has gradually, gradually accepted. But even when I came here in 2011, 2016, even, didn’t see much of it at all. And now it’s commonplace here. Even in this town where I’m living, which is not a big city, it’s a small city.

00:09:31 – Johnny Sanders
That’s really interesting. That just on the kind of the cultural push. Again, in the United States, we have certainly seen changes over the years of more and more acceptance. You can look at some of the polling of gay marriage and things like that. Not that long ago, it was largely disapproved, and now it’s largely approved here. But that is something that I think as Americans, we have some blinders on that we only see our neck of the woods. The rest of the world doesn’t really matter. It’s just the United States. That’s kind of a common American issue. And to your point, what happens here, it doesn’t just stay here. We are kind of trendsetters on a lot of different things and both some of the good things that we have spread, but also bad things. So things that we do here, it doesn’t just impact us here. It impacts the whole world. And I guess on your end, you’re seeing this more accepting in a place like Cambodia that traditionally isn’t that way. How does that change your approach and your ministry to be able to minister to these youth that are kind of getting this new wave of homosexuality, LGBT, gender, ideology, all of that, now that it’s out in the open, has that made it easier for you to minister to them? How was your approach changed? As you’ve seen, that been more and more open.

00:11:21 – Matthew Karchner
You think about someone who’s struggling with some unusual situation in life and feels so isolated and alienated. Like, I have these feelings and nobody gets me, no one understands it. And so the average guy in the church goes out and maybe tries to witness to someone struggling with homosexual desires, and they feel like, this guy doesn’t have a clue where I’m coming from. He has no idea. So it’s like talking to a wall. And so that’s the power of the testimony that when you’ve been through something, you can reach people. Like forgiven sin is ministry. The Lord uses that testimony to reach folks. And so that can be a silver bullet. Is it always welcomed with open arms? Not really. A young guy is caught up, set in his ways. He’s having fun doing what he’s doing. He doesn’t want to hear. He might scoff and mock and laugh, but the Lord can speak that word back to him later in the future when he’s in a time of despair. For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. If such were some of you, right one Corinthians six nine through eleven, that you were washed, you were sanctified, the Lord can forgive those who are willing to repent and put their faith and trust in him. May still wrestle with those desires for the rest of our lives, but that’s just part of it. Just like the alcoholic surrenders his will for God’s will, gives his life to Christ, and he might still struggle with the longing to have a drink for the rest of his life, but that’s just reality. We’re a fallen race and the Lord gives us the supernatural power to fight forward if we’re born again, if we’ve repented, put our faith and trust in him. Praise the Lord Jesus Christ for a way out.

00:13:15 – Johnny Sanders
Absolutely. And I think that’s a piece there and something you’ve referenced earlier of the sin of all of us. And that’s something convicting of people that don’t struggle with any type of homosexuality or gender ideology or anything like that. That’s never been a struggle. It becomes an us versus them. Yeah, I got it all figured out. You guys are all the bad ones. So good versus evil and we’re going to win. And there is a sense of good versus evil, but the good versus evil is Christ against sin. We’re not the good guys here. And that needs to be reminded of us all that the only good that’s in us is due to Christ, nothing that we have done. So all of that being said, like you mentioned, your testimony is important and can really lean into some of these youth that are really being swept into some of these cultural changes and some of these sinful desires. What would your advice be for people that maybe aren’t that way, that have never had any type of homosexual desire or anything like that? How can they still love the LGBT community in a really loving way without having that testimony?

00:14:45 – Matthew Karchner
Yeah, I think the only way is to be humble through humility, to realize that I’m just a sinner saved by grace too. And I always use the example of the guy who’s never struggled with homosexuality, but maybe there’s a young man who comes into the church and I’m someone who’s never struggled with homosexuality, but I want to reach him. I have a heart for him. I want to reach him for Christ, and I want to try to bridge the gap or stand in the gap for him. I think the best thing to do is to try to build a relationship, to build trust and to be honest about your own struggle. Like every man’s struggle typically is lust, whether they like to admit it or not. Somebody most men who have struggled with pornography at some point or another, cigarettes, alcohol, you name it, anger is a big one for men. So if we’re talking about men here, those are probably some of the most common ones. And if we can be honest about our struggles and our victories and our not yet theirs with those folks, I think that’s something authentic, an authentic foundation for relationship. When the trust is built and we can share that kind of difficult, embarrassing testimony and try to reach that person through that and allow the Lord to work through that humility, to build trust and to be someone they can pray with and share what’s going on and fight together to follow the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s not easy for anybody.

00:16:17 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, no, I think that humility that you mentioned is incredibly important and something that every Christian needs to keep in check, because we have done nothing. We are all deserving of hell. We have all falled short, and it’s only because of Christ, nothing that we have done. So I think that humility, like you mentioned, even mentioning some different sins, that goodness, you mentioned pornography, that’s an incredibly common thing. You’re more likely to run into somebody that has than has not. And being honest with that when you’re sharing the gospel that, yeah, I have sinful desires, too, so it’s not me, it’s Christ. Christ is the one that is perfect and has saved me from these things. Now, I think that’s great of what you described there, especially when you’re witnessing, but we definitely see this here, and I imagine you’ve been running into some of that in Cambodia of, well, homosexuality. Why are you telling me that this is like, yeah, maybe you struggle with these things over here, but I’m just loving who I need to love like that. Homosexuality is not a problem, it’s to be celebrated. What would your response be either to the person that is struggling in that sin or even the Christian that wants to just say, no, that’s not a sin, that’s not a problem? What should your response be to somebody like that? That’s not acknowledging that it’s even a problem?

00:17:57 – Matthew Karchner
Yeah, my parents field this question sometimes when I’m home for a Christmas break or something, sometimes we’ll get into churches together and my parents will stand up and field some questions. And the one thing kind of, how did they handle the war? How did they handle me telling them I’m gay and you better just accept it and all that. And they really stood on God’s Word and wouldn’t budge, like, we love you, but we love the Lord more. We choose him and his word over you. We’re sorry, but we’re not going to embrace you and tear pages out of God’s Word. That’s not how it works. And so praise the Lord. They stood on God’s word. And I really feel that in part due to their obedience, the Lord really made that midnight run in my life where he brought me to my knees in repentance, where there was no other way out but to look up and give my life to Him in a real way. I had grown up in the church and had some kind of shallow faith before, but anyway, they would say, that’s okay. My mom commonly says, I was praying for bad things to happen in your life, and nobody wants to hear that doesn’t sound good. Like, that doesn’t sound like a mother’s heart. But they were praying for short term pain in order for long term gain, if that makes sense. You know what I mean? Like, even if he has to lose friends, even if he winds up in the hospital, even if whatever it takes, just bring him back to you, Lord. And that really was a mother’s heart, although it doesn’t sound at first glance like it was, but they really wanted my soul in heaven more than me to be happy for a day or a week here on earth. And so I’m so thankful for Christian believing parents. So I would say, stand on the word of God and don’t budge. Don’t embrace the sin because the pressure is so great from culture nowadays and so great from society that we just want to, oh, let’s throw out God’s Word for today and just hug and talk about nice things in Disney. But really, we really have to stand on the Word and say, the bad news is this is sin and there’s no way out but repentance. The good news is that Jesus Christ is the way out. He’s the way, the truth and the life. No man comes to the Father but by Him. If you’re willing to repent, put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. He’ll give you the power to fight against this and he’ll forgive. Give it all, praise the Lord. There’s not really an easy silver bullet answer to that other than pray that the Lord brings them to their knees. And sadly, I think that’s what it takes in a lot of cases. You go out and somebody has money and relatively no problems in life, I don’t think they’re going to look up. My grandma used to say, sometimes you have to be flat on your back before you look up. And that’s how it was for me. So it can be a long time. It’s not a one and done hocus pocus kind of solution. Typically, it’s a war. It’s a real spiritual war. And people go, my parents went to war in prayer and fasting. They prayed and fasted for me as the Lord led through the pastor. It was years. It wasn’t days or weeks or months. And praise the Lord for their obedience.

00:21:20 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, his faithfulness. I think that’s a wonderful talking about testimony, just testimony on your parents, part of that steadfastness on the Word, that where these things are clear. We’re not budging. And that’s different than I think, some superficial steadfast of this is a really extreme example. But somebody that’s like Westboro Baptist Church that’s protested all these things, I don’t think any of them have done anything out of love. It’s just throw and scream at people and just do all these protests for attention. So we’re not saying that, but God’s word is God’s word. It’s not our word and it’s sufficient and we’re going to stand on that. And that’s something that showing love is really important, that we have, for one, a biblical view of love, but also just a deeper view of love. I’ll throw my kids as an example. There’s times that my kids don’t want to go to bed and it’s loving for me to say, no, you’re going to bed, even though that makes their feelings get hurt and they don’t like that. That’s a loving thing. Now, obviously what your parents did was much deeper, much more difficult, took years, I’m sure, tears and all sorts of turmoil over that. So I’m not saying it’s as easy as me tell my kids to go to bed, but that steadfastness and not letting emotion be the guide and letting truth be the guide, powerful, powerful stuff. But if you are a parent in that situation or if you have a loved one or whatever, you do need to be prepared for the long haul, kind of like your parents were, maybe in God’s grace that it won’t be that long for others, but some that return never happens. And I think that’s where our faith, being in Christ and being in God’s Word above all is incredibly important. Because if we’re just waiting to feel better, that’s going to be superficial. It’s not going to be nearly as deep as Christ. And biblical love really is Abraham and.

00:24:01 – Matthew Karchner
Isaac kind of thing, a job situation. Those come to parents. It went so far with me. It went so far that my dad said to my mom at one point, I don’t think we’re going to see him again. And that was going to have to be okay. You know what I mean? They trusted the Lord and they did what they could and they fought for the Lord. They fought for his word. They fought for what was best for me eternally. Not the here and now necessarily, but eternally. Right. They gave it all up and they got back. The Lord gave them back what they gave. Praise the Lord.

00:24:39 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah. And that’s where that faith is. Your parents, and if those of any of you listening that have a family member our goodness, you yourself are struggling with any type of homosexual desires. The big one now is really gender ideology. If you are concerned of whether you’re in the right body or whatever really going in faith and bringing that to Christ, because sometimes when we as believers, we’re like, well, hey, what your parents could say, Well, Matthew left. There’s nothing I can do about it. And then kind of wipe my hands if we just do that and then we don’t go in prayer, we are basically communicating that, yeah, God, I don’t think you can do it, and that’s not good. We don’t get to dictate what he does or not, but we need to put that faith in that earnestness and prayer. And I think that, again, that’s a wonderful testimony on your parents, and I hope, like I said, any of you listening that have dealing with anything similar, that’s a good place to start. Read Scripture and pray for their souls. And where scripture is clear, be clear.

00:26:01 – Matthew Karchner
Stand on the Word and don’t budge. Another thing, I think that if they had endorsed if I look back on my situation, it sounds brutal. Maybe some the position they took sounds maybe brutal to some people, but I think if they had endorsed in any way, you know what I mean, if they had continued to send me money and endorse my lifestyle and kind of enable it, if you will, I think I probably would be in hell right now. You know what I mean? It would have made them feel good for the moment, and everybody would have applauded. And probably a lot of people in the church would have said, you know, that’s what Jesus would do. He would call us to love no matter oh, it really was not what the Lord was leading to do at all. His Word was leading to, if you love son or daughter more than me, you’re not worthy of me, right? That’s what they were called to do, Abraham to Isaac, and to give me up to honor the Lord, to honor His Word above anything else on this earth. And so that’s what they did, and that’s what I recommend that others do, difficult as it is.

00:27:13 – Johnny Sanders
Absolutely. Yeah, that great example there. The sacrificial is really what comes to mind, which Abraham and Isaac, that’s a perfect example for that. And not easy, I’m sure your parents would agree. Not easy, but God’s word, god’s love is worth it. And standing on that, like you’ve mentioned, I wanted to go back into Cambodia just for a little bit. I know the ministry that you’re doing there sounds like it’s really needed, especially in a part of the world that some of the openness of LGBT stuff is really new. But going back to several years past, when you first started there, how did you get led into Cambodia? What was that process like, even just making it there in the first place?

00:28:09 – Matthew Karchner
Can I kind of answer the question and then maybe branch out just a little bit? Because I really wanted to talk about one. So I was with a big church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and they had missions, partnerships, they called them, with many countries in Africa and Asia and different places. And there was a lot of opportunity through that church, very missions minded. And so at one point, the pastor said, if you’re interested in the new Cambodia partnership, please go downstairs at 10:00 a.m.. This morning for an information session. So I went downstairs, and the Lord had delivered me months before, or maybe even weeks before. I’m not sure exactly what the day was that this happened, but it was within the first several months of my new life in Christ where I felt like I had just been hosed down, washed clean in the blood, and here I am, like, what’s next? Who am I now? What do I do, Lord? What would you have me to do? And so I went downstairs and I sat in the back row. And it was very much an information session. There was nothing passionate or emotional or spellbinding or anything about it. It was just the leader kind of giving his initial thoughts. He had been over to Cambodia on a scouting mission. He had a little video of him riding around in the back of a tuk tuk and kind of initial strategic thinking about how we can engage the churches there and things like that. And I think it wouldn’t have mattered what he said. The tears just started to flow, and I felt the Lord’s presence, and it was like, this is it. This is what I’m supposed to do. I don’t know what it means. I don’t know anything. I just know I’m supposed to join. So I joined, and I felt the Lord had called me to be a missionary in some capacity. I wasn’t 1000% sure that meant full time missions tomorrow. I worked at a bank, and I was with the bank ultimately for almost 15 years before the Lord called me out. But he trained me in unusual ways through that kind of back office banking career. And so, long story short, the Lord led over with short term missions with that church, my first church down in Pittsburgh, after the Lord called me out of my old life and praise the Lord. So that was pretty interesting. And was over here three times on different missions, and the last couple very small groups, like me and another person the one time, and me and two other people another time. But I led a couple very small groups, and it was just pretty amazing and profound what the Lord did on those short trips and really kind of got my feet wet and what things are like here. And the Lord gave me a heart for the people, and I felt like I didn’t even know where Cambodia was on the map before I came over here. And now I feel like I belong. So that’s how the Lord led. And when he led out of the banking career, I’d worked for PNC Bank down in Pittsburgh. It’s another long story. I’ll try to make it short. I had worked for PNC Bank down in Pittsburgh and had moved around with them a bit and had been with them almost 15 years by the time that the LGBT agenda became very strong in the US. With the US supreme Court approving gay marriage. This was 2015, and we had a new department head in the legal department at PNC who really championed the LGBT agenda even more than the General corporation did, kind of following suit behind the government. And so they required that. My boss was requiring that. I not really personally requiring intentionally, but the workload that he had for the people under him included stuff that was tangled in with the LGBT agenda. For example, I was the one who did the content for the website for the department, and a lot of the updates for the week would have to do with LGBT diversity and inclusion, promoting LGBT folks and promoting those folks from within and recruiting more and all this kind of stuff. So I was supposed to kind of promote and exalt that lifestyle that the lord had delivered me from. And I had watched friends fall off a cliff in I’d watched them go through their death in suicides and overdoses and get HIV in that life and everything else. I mean, I narrowly escaped death, and so I couldn’t with a clear conscience support that. So I went to my boss, and we were good friends, had a great working relationship. I really respected him. He taught me a lot. So I just told him straight up front, I said, I can’t do this. I can’t with a clear conscience endorse this kind of lifestyle, this agenda. So he tried to kind of work with me and swap my responsibilities with other folks, but it was like chewing gum in your hair that you can’t get out. It just kept coming across my desk over and over because it became entangled with everything we were doing almost, it seemed. And so over time then I was witnessing within the department. It kind of became my mission. I was so missions minded because the lord had delivered me from so much. Like the banking thing was not very important anymore, you know what I mean? Like daily worldly life was not important so much anymore. I really wanted to share the gospel with people. I thought, what if this guy dies? I really care about him. What if she dies? I care about her. If they die without Christ, it’s the most important thing to me. So I’m sharing the gospel in the workplace. I got called in reprimanded for that and then the LGBT thing that I tried to get off my plate, and that didn’t work out so well. And finally, at the end of it all, I was told kind of in the middle, we have plans for you if you just keep your mouth shut, kind of keep your head down. We have plans for you. But the lord had a greater plan. And so the lord let out. Long story short, it kind of came down to, maybe this isn’t the place for you if you’re not willing to comply, if you’re not willing to conform to corporate values, diversity and inclusion, diversity being one of them. And so the lord let out. That was the end of 2015. So I’m kind of embattled with the world here. I’m kind of taking fire from the world and Satan through the world, and then over here on the church side, I’m not always accepted either. I’d like to say it was all roses and cherries on the church side, but it wasn’t. It hasn’t been. And so because of the depth of my past sin and because of the depth of my testimony and the unusual unrelatability, I guess you would say, of the homosexuality thing and the same sex attraction, and I would stand up in front of the church down in Pittsburgh, big church. Most a lot of people liked me and appreciated me, but that there were some there that thought, I can’t get with this. I can’t fathom what he’s talking about. You know what I mean? I wanted to reach out to the LGBT and share the gospel and so on. Not everybody was on board with that. I was very upfront with my testimony. Not everybody wanted to hear that it involved alcohol warnings against alcoholism and drug use. Some of the folks in the church maybe were dabbling in alcohol and that kind of stuff. Nowadays in churches, a lot of things are approved that weren’t several generations ago. So, long story short, I kind of had trouble being accepted in church circles and telling the truth, if you will. And so when I decided, when the Lord led to come to Cambodia, beginning of end of 2015, beginning 2016, I didn’t sign on with a big missions organization that would control me through accountability, excessive accountability, because that’s what I had seen in church circles in Pittsburgh and elsewhere. And the church circles that I ran in were thinking, all these ministers that we see on TV are falling right and left, and all these different people that we thought were standing so strong, I know how to solve the problem, tackle them at the waist. Excessive accountability to a point where there’s no freedom in Christ. You’re going to do what I think you should do. You’re going to meet with me every Wednesday at 08:00 and tell me everything you did this week, that kind of thing. And to me, it was so suffocating, and it was so bizarre to me, like the Lord had really set me free from certain death. And so nothing could stop me from getting through the doors of the church. Nothing could stop me from serving the Lord. And so these people were running at me like, you’re a risk. You’re a risk. You’re going to fall like the other ones. Let’s do this accountability ritual every week and so on. And it was like smothering my relationship with the Lord. And so it was actually a big denomination that the church was affiliated with. And when I came to Cambodia, I talked to the acting field director over here about the possibility of coming over under them. And he said, accountability is a beautiful thing. And to me, his countenance in his face was like a comic book villain. I like to say it was not endearing, there wasn’t anything comforting about it. It was like, we will control your every move kind of thing. And I thought, I ain’t doing that. I’m not leaving a corporation to serve the Lord in my new life and being controlled more than I was inside of a corporation against the will of God, you know what I mean? Like you’re going to sign on with them in something that possibly quite possibly supersedes the will of God, some kind of corporate ritual kind of thing within the church. I wasn’t willing to do that. And so, long story short, the Lord led to create a nonprofit. We have a small nonprofit called Castaway Ministries now and kind of did homegrown organic. We have a small board and go around, have churches that support back home and individual supporters and praise the Lord he’s really provided and led. So first connected through folks that I knew here from the short term missions and then built from there. Have a lot of contacts here and a lot of church family. And like I said, the lord recently led to plant this new church here in my neighborhood. So that’s kind of separate from the LGBT outreach. Typically since 2016, I had been going even on long term motorbike rides. Everybody’s on a motorbike or a scooter over here because the weather is good. It’s tropics over here. So you go on your motorbike instead of your car, typically. And I would go on the motorbike and drop by somewhere to get a bottle of water, and the folks would start asking, where are you from and why are you here? And then the lord would lead to share the gospel with them, to share testimony. The lord would lead to, I’d have a problem with the motorbike. Go to the repair shop. The lord would lead very strategically to someone there, or maybe the hairdresser that struggles with homosexuality that’s next door to the moto mechanic. Very creatively led me to different people in different places, very small villages and all kinds of amazing stuff. And so I did a lot of that and taught the kids here all that time. Since 2018, I’ve been teaching the kids on Sunday and then just kind of had like a free space here on the first floor of the apartment building that I live in. The manager had allowed kind of an open air space. It’s like a public space, just a table. And so had done that for quite a few years and had relationships with the families and the parents of the kids and that sort of thing. So everybody in the neighborhood knows everybody. It’s like a small town. And I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, so it feels similar in an unusual way. Cambodia, US. But still small town is small town. And so having built those relationships, that’s kind of the foundation for the church. So the church is nearly entirely youth at the moment. It’s only a couple months old and we have a few adults, but youth are really the foundation, and they’re actually trained up in some ways similar to how an adult would be trained up several years into the Word. And they’ve really walked through a lot of Bible lessons with them. They know who the primary old Testament Bible characters are. They can share the gospel. We do old fashioned door to door evangelism here, which is still kind of a norm in Cambodia among the churches. And so it’s a simple ministry, also very complex because of Buddhism and the Indoctrination and a lot of things unique to Cambodia. The language is obviously very foreign. It’s not like Spanish or Italian. It’s like a script language, like deciphering code kind of thing. So it’s a lot to bite. So a lot of my week right now is prayerfully writing the sermons in the beginning of the week and then translating those sermons to Cambodian language and then running them by as best I can, and then running them by someone like test preaching a friend kind of sitting across the table with somebody, test preaching to them. And then fixing working out the kinks and fixing some words and pronunciation and that sort of thing so that I’m ready for Sunday. And then the music ministry and all that kind of stuff. So it’s a small church and really a blessing, I guess, because I come from a corporate background and a lot of policies and procedures. I love the simple life. I’m so thankful to be. It feels free to be in a small church and have a simple program. It’s a simpler place to live. It’s more agricultural based. There’s some tourism industry here, too, but a lot of people are farmers and things are open air and slower paced. And people ask you commonly, how many brothers and sisters do you have? And questions like that are kind of everyday thing here. How many brothers and sisters do you have? Did you eat rice yet? Which is like asking somebody, did you eat breakfast yet? Just a simpler life. I’m so blessed to be here. Cambodians are very sweet people and such a blessing to serve. Praise the Lord.

00:42:20 – Johnny Sanders
Yeah, I think it sounds like a wonderful ministry with lots of different things going on there that God has definitely blessed your time there, blessed the Cambodians, and we pray that that continues to happen over there. I know we also just really just scratched the surface about some of your story, your testimony, and everything that God has faithfully done in your life. So for those in the audience that want to check up on you or find a little bit more information about you, where can they find more information about you after the show?

00:43:01 – Matthew Karchner
Castawayministries.org. C-A-S-T-A-W-A-Y-I have to remind myself how to spell it. Castawayministries.org is the website for the nonprofit and then website for this kind of thing. I’ve written a few books and done some interviews about my testimony and that sort of thing, what the Lord’s done in my new life. And that’s through Xgwitness.com. Xgwitness.com.

00:43:33 – Johnny Sanders
Wonderful. All right, well, I’ll get that all linked down there. Everyone definitely check that out. I know that there’s all sorts of other stories and definitely checking out the books there to learn more about not all that. I know Matthew would say this, that he has done, but what God has done in his life, and we want to really praise him through that, because he’s the one that does good in our lives, not our own doing. So, Matthew, again, great having you on. I loved hearing the story. I love hearing missions minded people, too. And you have a very specific calling here. So thanks again so much for being on the show with us today.

00:44:13 – Matthew Karchner
Thanks for having me. God bless.

00:44:16 – Johnny Sanders
Absolutely. All right, well, everyone, thank you for joining us on another episode of Faithfully Engaged, and let’s just keep fighting for truth. You guys take care.