Bryan and Rhonda Matthews have found an earthly refuge, which keeps them mindful of their spiritual purpose.
"It helps you relax," said the Rev. Matthews, pastor of New Life Christian Center, of his Hilton Head-style home in Grovetown. "You forget about the pressures, and it helps you refocus and appreciate the little things, such as the sun on the water or watching the deer. It's like a retreat sometimes."
The Matthewses live on 2´ acres not far from busy Interstate 20. Their 3,300-square-foot home overlooks a swimming pool and a 21-acre pond, which is shared by the residents of Sugar Creek subdivision.
The home, nestled among towering pines and hardwood trees, seems to be miles away from civilization at times, even though the hustle and bustle of the growing Martinez-Evans area is only a few minutes away, said Mrs. Matthews.
The serene surroundings are conducive to prayer and Bible study, and nature often inspires spiritual lessons, which they pass on to members of their congregation.
One morning, while she was praying with a woman from their church, Mrs. Matthews noticed a mother duck and her ducklings from her bedroom window. Every move the mother made the ducklings imitated. Whether she waddled on the side of the pond or swam in the lake, the ducklings stayed close by.
What a lesson, Mrs. Matthews said. God's children should be the same way.
A few weeks ago, during a heavy rain, a strong wind came through the back yard and knocked over a tall, lush tree. The tree appeared to be healthy, yet it had no roots, and when the storm came it quickly toppled.
Another object lesson, Mrs. Matthews said.
The many full-length windows throughout the home bring nature inside.
"It's a view and a half back there," she said.
If Mrs. Matthews had looked only at the home's cedar exterior, the couple might not have purchased it a year ago. Mrs. Matthews prefers stucco exterior. However, the tremendous view and the spacious interiors swayed her.
The home is often used for church picnics, members' baby showers, Christmas parties and other gatherings of church groups.
"We have a very social church," said Mrs. Matthews.
There's plenty of room for guests to move around, and the kitchen is a good place to find cooks heating up covered dishes or scrounging for utensils.
"I never lose dishes. Everything pulls out," making it easy to be organized, Mrs. Matthews said.
The kitchen and adjoining breakfast nook are inviting to guests. The breakfast nook is painted in a bright yellow, called "fried banana."
"If anyone ever comes in here gloomy, it will cheer them up. Not that I'm ever gloomy," said Mrs. Matthews.
The kitchen has white cabinets and a Mexican-tile floor. The walls are accented with painted tiles, which form a fruit basket.
The sunshine-yellow bedroom of their 7-year-old son, Carter, is a haven for the children of the church, who often play Nintendo 64 while visiting.
The three-bedroom home features something the Rev. Matthews has always wanted - a study. The elegant wood-paneled room give affords him the privacy he needs to prepare his sermons or pray for his congregation.
The Matthewses' church meets behind Augusta Mall in a former racquetball and fitness center. However, the church owns about 17 acres and is preparing to purchase another 12 on Lewiston Road, exactly two miles from the family's home.
"We would like to break ground within the year," said Mrs. Matthews.
Reach Charmain Brackett at (803) 441-6927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.