Matt Dudney: For God's Glory
By Jewel Graham Taylor
The 700 Club
Matt Dudney is the son of Barbara Mandrell. From a very early age, Matt was exposed to an opulent celebrity lifestyle. Money, tours and famous people were everyday life for him. Even though he accepted Christ at the age of 15, he slid into an unruly lifestyle just a few years later.
"It started out with a group of friends. 'Hey, we've got a six-pack of beer' or 'let's go chase these girls.'" I dabbled a little bit in drugs, but more than anything it was more drinking. Then later came depression. It started sometime while I was in college. The more and more I fell into depression, the more I would self-medicate, using alcohol and sometimes drugs. From that, there was no balance. It was little short highs and long periods of time with lows," Matt says.
Matt began taking antidepressants for the depression, but he didn’t stop consuming alcohol. He says, "I was drinking from almost the time I got up in the morning until I passed out at night. I wouldn't fall asleep. I'd pass out. The depression got so bad for me that I would lay in bed for days and only get up out of bed to go to the restroom or occasionally go get something to eat. The shame that I felt was more shame of the sense of failure or loss of control. I'm no longer in control of feeling happy. I'm no longer in control of whether I can have that drink or not have that drink."
Matt realized he needed help when he almost burned down his aunt’s house.
"I put on a pot of dry beans and put water in it. The next thing I know the fire department was there and people were running around. The water had run out of the beans, and I guess the smoke alarms all went off. It smoked up the house pretty good. I didn't know what I had done. I didn't even remember putting on the beans."
Matt checked himself into a rehabilitation center immediately. For some reason, he packed his Bible. After three days at the treatment center, he picked it up.
"I just started reading the 12th chapter of Proverbs. At that point I knew it was the Holy Spirit or God speaking to me saying, 'Are you through yet? Are you ready?' I just kind of let it all go, and I said, 'Yes, I'm ready.' That was the major turning point in my life to accept that I am a child of God. I was made to follow His will, and I was made for much much bigger and better things than I was allowing myself to receive."
Matt completed his treatment and returned to his job as a chef. For the first time he wasn’t tempted by the lifestyle around him, nor by the alcohol which flowed at the restaurant’s bar. His faith began to grow.
"The neat part about it was there was a hunger for me to be in the Word, to see what God had for me," he says. "I read so much of the Bible before and I knew what it said, but I had never taken it to heart. 'That's talking about me and my life.' When I read the Bible today, I try to look at it exactly how it applies to my life."
It took him some time to reshape his reputation with friends and family. Christy, a college acquantance, remembered Matt from his “wild” days and wanted nothing to do with him.
"When he asked me out, I said no because I remembered as he said earlier,how he was in college and I didn't think he was husband material," Christy says.
Matt was relentless. Christy gave in, and the two dated long distance for several months. She recalls, "I was on the phone with him and he told me about how the Holy Spirit filled the room he was in [in] he rehab place. I saw his heart was truly different and that he was living for God. In that moment, I just knew I was marrying him."
Two years after they married, Matt quit his job to work alongside Christy in full-time ministry. He inherited the family’s musical genes so he sings and plays with his wife while managing her career as a gospel singer.
"When Christy and I started traveling, we very much felt God's will for us to go out and to let people see our hearts and what God had done in our lives to hopefully influence other people to let go and accept God's will in their lives," he says.
Christy adds, "He is the God of new beginnings. Nothing is impossible for Him. Nothing is too hard for God. His parents have told me over and over again they see such a difference in him. At first they were thanking me, and I was like no it's not me. It's Jesus Christ. He's the one that did it."
"It's not hard to be a joyful Christian if you can rejoice in every aspect of your life the good times and the bad," Matt says. "As long as you're walking that path and as long as you are following Jesus, He will use everything that happens in your life for His glory. So there will be tough times, but rejoice in the fact that He will use the bad for a good end."
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