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Boy Matthew: A Story of Grief and Grace

"Life your life like you’re going to live forever, but be ready to leave today"




This week, I finally had the courage to read one of the most heartbreaking, overwhelming, life-changing and faith-filled thanksgiving story of the life of Matthew Arnold.


A Facebook or Instagram post couldn’t suffice for how much this book has impacted my heart over the past few days, but my story of faith is small compared to the lives that Matthew has touched since his passing last April AND how mighty our God has been in the life of Ciara and Eve, Matthew’s wife and little girl; Matthew’s family - Phyllis, Hertford, Ford and the rest of the family; Ciara’s family - Beverly, Stephen, Joey, Ethan, John and the rest of the family; and for the surrounding family and friends of both families; local church families in Northern Ireland; and, I pray this book, these God-fearing group of folk that surround Ciara and her family, will continue to shine the light of Christ and that souls will be saved.


Hope you enjoy the wee book review!

As a child of God, I have had a week of encouragement from so many of my friends, both saved and unsaved. That might sound a bit random to start a mini ‘book review’, but God used my week to draw me to finally read a wee thanksgiving book written by Matthew's parents called ‘Boy Matthew’.


Reading the first few pages of this book, I had to grab the box of tissues - watching that family over the past year has strengthened so many Christians, including myself, and their walk with God, and knowing God’s hand has NEVER left them once... our God is just amazing to say the very least!


To give you a little bit of what the book contains, Matthew’s family share of when he asked his mum, at the tender age of 6, “How can I be saved?” And there, his mum had the privilege of saying the sinner’s prayer with him and pointing him to Christ.


Later in life, he met a beautiful girl called Ciara and they were so in love. They married in 2018 and were expecting their first child the following year. They named their little girl Eve, meaning “source of life”, which came to mean so much for Ciara over the coming weeks and months.




On the 7th April, Matthew heading to work - he was only back a few days after returning from paternity leave - and said his goodbyes like always to his wife Ciara and his 3-week old baby, Eve. He headed to work in his motorbike, as he was quite the ‘petrol head’ and couldn’t wait to get onto that bike in the good weather! Before he left the house, Phyllis his mum had previously said to him in the recent weeks to be careful, and Matthew’s response was, “Mum, don't be worrying, everything will be ok. And anyway, if anything ever happens to me on this bike, you know where I will be".


Later that day, before leaving work, he said goodbye to Ford, his brother, and his dad asked him when he would be home for dinner. Matthew’s response was “Tell Ma to put the tea on, I’ll be home in 20 minutes” and he put the thumbs up to everyone as he left his work for the day.

Unfortunately, on Matthew’s journey home, his life was taken in a tragic accident, but his family knew where he was - in Heaven. Through the days that lay ahead, they were comforted by family, friends, pastors, neighbours, and all of those who knew Matthew. God’s hand was upon them in their worst, ugliest and darkest days and God has preserved them even until this day.



The story behind the orange boat came about when Matthew’s parents, Phyllis and Hertford, were in a coffee shop in the North Coast, and saw these young people enjoying life - they were around Matthew’s age, and this broke Phyllis’ heart. Hertford took her outside and inside of going home and cutting their holiday short, they went for a walk. Phyllis pleaded with God to show her His presence and for God to assure her that Matthew was with God.


The next bit will astound you.


They were walking beside the sea, when they saw this bright orange boat, and both thought it reminded them so much of Matthew’s bright ginger hair. What they didn’t see, until shortly afterwards when the boat came into the harbour, was that the name of the boat was called “Boy Matthew” with CE 510 which reminded them of C for Ciara, Matthew’s wife, and E for Eve, Matthew’s beautiful baby girl, and they turned to Matthew 5:10, in the Bible, which says, “Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” This was an answered prayer for Phyllis, and both of them cried in anguish but also rejoicing for God hearing their cries. God used this boat to comfort a family suffering severely from the loss of their 3rd child.



Working through the chapters, from Phyllis and Hertford sharing their heartbreaking journey and the promises from God that brought them through some of their darkest days - these parents lost 2 sons before Matthew was born, so they have experienced turmoil, yet God has always strengthened them and never forsaken them, and answered the prayer of another son, which gives me goosebumps on my skin even at the thought of how spectacular our God is; then reading Ford’s sentimental chapter of having the best wee brother he could ask for, and the experience of getting out of the car to tell his parents the news of how his wee brother has went to be with the Lord; Ciara’s loving chapter on how incredible her godly husband Matthew was, and what a fantastic father he was to Eve before God took him home; and the book finished with several stories and memoirs from pastors, friends and other family members - from people who knew Matthew and how he would light up the room, either with his bright ginger hair or his personality, but most certainly for his love for his Heavenly Father!


This is a book is a must-have on your shelf, beside your bed and to give as a Christmas present this year. This is a book filled with fear but also faith. This is a book that tears will be shed over, through sadness but also through praise to our Lord for never failing us; for never failing those who feel they are sinking in their suffering. This book is a book that reminds us that God is our anchor in the storms of life; that once you are born again, that it is well with our souls. This is a book that will change your life, as a sinner who I pray will be saved by God’s grace.


One verse that stuck out to me and brought me to tears even before reading this book, but it has really stuck with me (in the image below, it is from the Amplified Version)



Romans 8:18 KJV

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”



Are you saved? Are you ready? Like Matthew wrote on Facebook a few weeks before he went to be with the Lord, “Live your life like you’re going to live forever, but be ready to leave today”



Please continue to pray for Ciara, my beautiful friend, and their little girl, Eve - that she will come to know the Lord as her personal Saviour, Matthew’s parents Phyllis and Hertford and the surrounding family and friends, and those who were saved and restored to Christ through the death of Matthew, that they will remain strong and serve Christ for the rest of their lives.



Boy Matthew

If you want to purchase this book, which is a wonderful book written by Phyllis, Hertford and Ciara about God’s grace and mercy on a soul that was saved at a young age and how Matthew lived his life for the Lord, it is available at several Christian bookstores including:



For those that want to share Matthew’s story and the story of the orange boat with children and young people, I highly recommend watching Hope of Youth Ministries’ video on Matthew’s life story.


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