How a School Shooting Led Matt Prater to Ministry

Matt Prater and family
Matt Prater with his wife Carol and three children.

As host of weekends on Vision Christian Radio and History Makers, Matt Prater enthusiastically chronicles the lives of some of God’s most hard-working servants. But of course he’s spent his own life kicking goals for God. Talking to Eric Skatebo on The Story recently, Matt explained how he actually found his calling in ministry after a terrifying shooting at his high school.

When he was 13, Matt grew bored of the family’s somewhat conservative church, and decided to go surfing on Sundays instead. But he started attending youth group to get closer to a girl he liked. It was at a youth camp that the Gospel message changed him forever.

“For the first time in my life,” he said, “I realised I was a sinner that needed a saviour. And even though I’d been raised in a Christian home, I knew about God, but I didn’t know about having a personal relationship with him.”

When he returned to school, everyone noticed the difference in him. All he wanted to do was tell people about Jesus, which is what he’s been doing ever since. “If someone had a cure for cancer in a tablet, you’d want to tell everyone about it, wouldn’t you. I reckon we’ve got the best news ever, and that’s why it’s just burning inside me.”

But it was also at school where Matt had one of the most terrifying experiences of his life, when a student walked into their sports carnival with a gun. “Thankfully no one died, but he shot one teacher in the chest, one girl in the leg, and one teacher in the hand, and a couple of brave year 12 kids tackled him and took the gun off him.”

“It was a massive news story around Australia. And the whole school was really rocked by this incident. And I remember our little Christian group, we just kept praying. God, would you use us to help reach our school in this tough time we’re going through.”

And that’s exactly what happened. They brought pastors, youth leaders and bands into the school to talk to kids who were suddenly thinking about their mortality. “It’s almost like what the devil meant for bad, God turned it around for good.”

Matt soon found himself youth leader of a group of more than 60 teens. Jeremiah 29:11 NIV says “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”. “That verse really spoke to me then, he said, “and I knew that God had called me to something in ministry.”

There’s a lot more to Matt’s story, like the bizarre jobs he got to pay his way through Bible college, and what he called his Job moment, when his first marriage had broken up, and he felt disqualified from ministry.

Listen to his conversation with Eric Skatebo below for a lively and funny journey through the history of a History Maker.

Tune into The Story on Vision for true testimonies from extraordinary people. Click here for your local times and more testimonies.

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