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Waxahachie, TX

April 27, 2018 | Mikayla Heldt


Matthew Perez

Matthew Perez, a student at Southwestern Assemblies of God University (SAGU), felt lost and helpless throughout his teenage years. He endured a season of homelessness as he lived off friends' couches and eventually, would attempt to take his own life. Through these obstacles, Perez realized his need for Christ and was led to SAGU.

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 eighteen-years-old, after getting into another argument, Perez finally snapped, 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 cops, 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 had existed more than anything else in the world,” Perez says. 

A cop finally held him down, and after Perez apologized and broke down, asked him about his relationship with God. This is when he realized that he needed to start putting God first, before family issues, and before his relationships.

Mattthew Perez (far right) with the SAGU Cross Country Team
 

Perez found out about Southwestern Assemblies of God (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 here have become his family. 

After graduating with his Criminal Justice degree, he plans to return home to the Valley and get into Border and Customs. 

“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 these years were 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 on the verge of not wanting to live, to living the best life I can to the glory of God."


Southwestern Assemblies of God University is a private, Christian university located 30 minutes south of the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex in Waxahachie, Texas. The university was established in 1927, and now offers more than 70 associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees on campus or online. More information is available at www.sagu.edu

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