Crystal and I both have a heart for life on life intentional discipleship. Growing up in Mississippi we were both involved in church, but it wasn’t until our latter college and early adult years when our lives were impacted through discipleship, starting at Kanakuk Kamps, where Matt and Crystal met in 2002. This began a desire in both of us to be involved in vocational discipleship ministry, which started with each of us working for K-Life, (www.klife.com) a discipleship focused youth ministry that started out of Kanakuk Kamps. In August 2003, I (Matt) became the Area Director of St. Petersburg K-Life, in St. Petersburg, Florida and Crystal became the female staff for Columbia K-Life, in Columbia, Missouri. We were married in May of 2004 and Crystal moved to St. Petersburg, where we did ministry together with K-Life, as well as Matt serving as a team chaplain in the Tampa Bay Rays organization until 2009. During our time in St. Pete we were blessed beyond measure to have many amazing mentors, but especially Pastor Tim Cole and his wife Michelle who took us under their wings and into their lives and home, continuing to disciple and pour into us during our time in Florida. In 2009, the Lord led us back to Matt’s alma mater, Mississippi State, to do discipleship ministry there on campus. We were blessed to have a wonderful partnership with Emmanuel Baptist Church in Starkville that provided encouragement, support, and accountability for us as we got our ministry started at MSU. During our 9 years at MSU God used us in many ways from the original Phase 2 campus ministry, to a year long discipleship group we called Project 2:2, as well as Matt serving as the MSU Baseball team chaplain for 7 years, and taking groups down each year to serve on the remote Bahamian island of Eleuthera. (http://www.thejolleys.com/blog/2017/6/8/diamond-dawg-cat-tiger-etc-discipleship) The last two years in Starkville, Matt came on staff with Lightbearers, (www.lightbearers.com) a residential college discipleship ministry and worked to get their ministry established and running in Starkville.
In August of 2017, the Lord began showing us that our time in Starkville was coming to an end and impressed Western Carolina University on our heart. In spite of not knowing a single person there we began praying and seeking the Lord and have seen Him open so many doors and continue to confirm that is where He is leading us for this next season of life and ministry. (read more here: http://www.thejolleys.com/blog/2017/10/2/our-move-to-north-carolina) We are partnering with The Bridge Church, a local church there that meets on campus at WCU and has a large college student population with a big need for discipleship. During our first year there we will be figuring out exactly what our ministry there will look like and continuing to take groups to Eleuthera for week long mission/discipleship trips throughout the year.
And saving the best for last...Crystal and I figured if our heart was life on life discipleship then there was no greater opportunity to make disciples than our own kids. We have been blessed with six wonderful, yet energetic and sometimes crazy kids! Crystal gives much of her time to them in this season of life, just being mom and keeping up with chores around the house. We try to make the kids a part of our discipleship ministry to the students as much as possible… as we like to say...to be a part of our family is to be a part of our ministry and to be a part of our ministry is to be a part of our family!
“Discipleship is done by someone, not by something. It is done by people, not programs. It is accomplished by individuals, not institutions. Technically, discipling is a life on life relationship where one more mature Christian person imparts God’s word to another through teaching formally and informally by living his whole life before another. It is done by example, leadership, and relationship. It always involves life transference.”
-From "Tally Ho the Fox" by Herb Hodges