Matthew Williams (MA/BC 11)

Alumni Spotlight

Matthew Williams (MA/BC 11)

As a kid growing up in small town, north Louisiana, I would not have guessed where life would eventually lead. I am thankful for a high school friend who said, “Want to join me Wednesday night?” 

These days, some of my most salient and rewarding memories are taking place in the conflict zones of the Democratic Republic of Congo and post-conflict northern Uganda. It is there that I have the honor of applying what I learned while at DTS – teaching truth and loving well. With great privilege, I serve as Director of Operations at Exile International, a ministry that is transforming the lives of former child soldiers and children orphaned by war. 

It breaks my heart each time I hear these boys and girls share their experiences – circumstances I am comfortable calling “hell on earth.” Children, as young as 7, forced to become victims and perpetrators of violence – murder, rape, torture and all forms of abuses. Most of these young boys and girls have been orphaned or are unwanted by their families. If they are among those who escape, the realities are often bleak. Without proper care, most become street children or return to rebel armies, knowing no other way to find food or acceptance.

Even in the face of such towering odds, by the redeeming power of Christ we are seeing lives restored and hope return to their eyes. Through Exile International’s Christ-centered care programs (providing physical, emotional and spiritual care), youth like John and Alice (program grads in DR Congo) are becoming leaders – the very leaders their communities need to lead them towards reconciliation and peace.

I’m thankful for my time at DTS because, more than I realized at the time, it gave me a solid foundation and preparation to take part in a ministry such as Exile International. I am especially grateful for the influence professors such as Dr. Albritton and Dr. Marten, who taught us to apply sound counseling practices with a solid biblical foundation. I am thankful to men like Dr. Kreider who taught us the relevance of the gospel to all aspects of life and culture. 

Today, their teaching and their guidance continues to influence not only my life, but now influences the ministries of Exile International, our local teammates in Uganda and DR Congo, and programs that are transforming 1,200 child survivors of war – young men and women who will soon be the leaders of their communities. Talk about exponential impact!

Apart from Christ, I believe this vision and mission would be too audacious. Yet, with Christ, we are seeing vision become reality. 

Beyond education, my time at DTS also led to making wonderful friends who I remain close to this day; several of whom I have had the honor traveling with and serving alongside in Indonesia and Uganda. Three of those mighty men stood at my side as I said, “I do” to the woman of my dreams (cliché but true). How many other women could there be who share a passion for Christ, a passion for serving child survivors, and could make me laugh out loud daily? This super woman, clinical psychologist Bethany Haley Williams, founded Exile International in 2008 in response to the need for—and the lack of—care programs serving child survivors of war in DR Congo. It is our honor to lead the organization together and witness children of war become new creations in Christ (2 Cor. 5:12). 

I strongly encourage you to pick up a book, The Color of Grace, by Bethany. In the book, Bethany vulnerably shares her own journey of redemption and how God used her healing process to lead her into the lives of former child soldiers. Through this book, our hope is that the world (and specifically the church) will be awakened to the realities of the 300,000 child soldiers in the world and the very real power redemption can have in all of our lives