Inspiring Okeechobee: Matt Bowen has a heart for people

OKEECHOBEE — Billy Mays sold us Fix-it, OxiClean, Orange Glo, Kaboom, Zorbeez, and other cleaning, home-based, and maintenance products on television. “I’m Billy Mays here with…,” almost yelling at us, but we didn’t mind. This week’s inspiration reminds me of the exuberant Mays (1958-2009), although our Pastor Matt Bowen has no infomercial sales experience. It’s not so much in his features, but like Mays, Pastor Matt is excited every time you see him! He exudes confidence and excites you to the point that you will do whatever he asks, because you want to be in his company.

Okeechobee is lucky to count Matt Bowen and his family among our community members.

While they have only been living in Okeechobee for the past three years, their impact is felt and they are a source of inspiration to so many. Matthew Bowen is better known as Pastor Matt, and along with wife Tracy and their kids, the family moved, as part of Christ Fellowship’s quest to open a church in Okeechobee.

I met Pastor Matt several years ago, and know that he just has such a servant’s heart. Any time there is a need in our community, he is one of the first to offer help. He extends the hand of friendship and fellowship to all he meets. Not only do you get Pastor Matt when there is a project to do, he brings an entourage or cadre of others who care about our community as well.

Matthew and Tracy Bowen

Wife Tracy noted, “Ministry as a vocation is a new thing for him. He’s always, always ministered to everyone in addition to working another job. Christ Fellowship saw his heart for people and asked him to take on this role. He felt God leading him to set aside his other pursuits and give this his full-time effort. But it’s how he served before while working a full-time job that got him to this place of ministry as a paid vocation.”

Friend Erin O’Neal enjoys serving alongside Matt, as the two became quick friends when the church began in Okeechobee. Erin recalls their first meeting in 2014, “… we were doing renovations on the bathrooms at the church so we could launch our Christ Fellowship Okeechobee campus. I was like, who is this guy that keeps running up and down the stairs to the balcony (where the electrical panel was located) like a crazy man!!” Erin continues, “From that day forward, I haven’t seen him slow down when it comes to serving the people of Okeechobee.” Further Erin said, “Little did I know that day I would meet a man that would become instrumental in my life. A man who I get to serve with at the church and in the community, but we also became great friends.

No, we’re more like brothers.” Erin relates, “I don’t know any other person that would put so many others needs above his own needs. It’s not just him, it’s his entire family they have such a servant leaders heart, for the church and Okeechobee. They have fully infused themselves into the community since moving here three years ago. I’ve always been one willing to volunteer for whatever, but Matt inspires me to get even more involved and be the hands and feet of Jesus. Now, I get a front row view of it every time I’m around him. No one gives more time and dedication than Matt Bowen.”

“Matt Bowen, is an amazing husband, dad, pastor and friend,” says Pastor Brandon Catoe of Christ Fellowship. “I’m so thankful to have a guy like Matt as a friend and teammate.

Matt works tirelessly to serve everyone he possibly can. Matt loves his community and works hard at making Okeechobee better day in and day out. Matt is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever been around. Matt will take on anything you ask if he can help in any way.” Catoe continues, “Matt is very loyal and reliable, a man of integrity. I have been blessed to serve with Matt the last three years and watch him give all he has to make our church what it is today, all the while … loving his family first. Matt loves God and it shows in how he shines the light of Jesus everywhere he goes.”

Pastor Matt is an “aw shucks” kind of guy, who cares not for limelight, fame or glory. He will likely be embarrassed by the attention of this article. He truly enjoys helping others, which was evident after Hurricane Irma, but we did not need a hurricane to know about his good works and deed. This is how Pastor Matt lives every day. Pastor Matt, Okeechobee is glad to have you and your family calling our community home. Keep on inspiring us to help others!

Leah Suarez is a freelance writer.

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