From Homeless to Collegiate Athlete
Matthew Perez felt lost and helpless throughout his teenage years. He endured a season of homelessness as he lived off friends' couches and eventually, attempted to take his own life. Through these obstacles, Perez realized his need for Christ and was led to Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU) in Waxahachie, Texas.
Perez grew up in an abusive home in McAllen, Texas. He lived with his mother and four siblings. As the second-born in the family, he remembers living peacefully with his older brother and mother before the birth of his three younger siblings. When his mother and stepfather added three more children to the family, he recounts a drastic change as he became the subject of both verbal and physical abuse.
At 18 years old, Perez finally packed his things, and left.
He lived with a friend for a while and attended church with the family that was allowing him to stay. Perez knew that God had him right where he needed to be after the pastor preached a sermon about parenting that hit him hard. He began to attend church and grow in his relationship with God.
“It was me running to God,” he says.
Soon after, Perez got into a couple relationships, one in particular where he stayed with the girl’s family for a couple months. He dedicated all his time to that relationship and stopped going to church and getting into the Word. However, the girl broke up with him and Perez had nowhere to stay. He felt lost and alone.
At one point, he attempted to take his life. He was holding a knife in his hand, being chased by police, and planned to run into a tree to impale himself. But a true miracle happened — as Perez rammed into the tree, the knife barely even scratched him.
“This is when I knew God existed more than anything else in the world,” Perez says.
At the scene of his attempted suicide, an officer arrived and held him down. Perez apologized and broke down, and then the officer asked him about his relationship with God. Perez realized that he needed to start putting God first, before family issues and his relationships.
Perez found out about SAGU his senior year after his cross-country coach advised him to look into it. After his high school graduation, he was offered a scholarship to run cross-country and he eagerly accepted.
Now, Perez is a SAGU student studying Criminal Justice and finishing up his first year of college. The new friends he’s made at SAGU have become his family.
After graduating with his Criminal Justice degree, he plans to return home to the Valley (far southern Texas) and pursue a career with U.S. Customs and Border Protection.
“It’s an unreached mission field . . . I think maybe I can start something here. Like in a small sense become an evangelist,” Perez says.
Though his teen years have been tough and painful at times, Perez has matured mentally and spiritually. He’s thankful for where God has placed him.
Perez said, “I’ve been [from] the verge of not wanting to live to living the best life I can to the glory of God."IMAGE - Perez is on the far right.