About 3D-Outreach
3D-Outreach is a non-profit organization seeking to reach out, across borders, to the needs of the whole person through being a resource and support to existing long term outreach.


One Individual – A Life of Inspiration

Posted by 3D-Outreach on 29 May 2009

“When I am big, I want to be like you.” These were the words of a four-year-old Matthew Carter to his pastor, over 20 years ago. Even at that young age, Matthew knew that he wanted to be involved in ministry, but it would be many years before he understood exactly how that was supposed to look.

Neither the role of a pastor nor that of an evangelist really gelled with Matthew’s heart, and he found himself gravitating toward ministries of compassion. He was accepted in a post-matric gap year program with a such a focus, however, after about 8 months, Matthew realized that the reality of the program and the promise were vastly different and found himself volunteering elsewhere in order to fill his time.

The following two years found Matthew taking part in a UN-affiliated course on relief and disaster management, the second year of which involved “practicals” in Africa. Whether plotting schools in provinces in Mozambique or finding ways to get supplies to villages sealed off by floods, Matthew found himself thinking “this is what I was made for.” It was here that the love of expedition was first birthed in Matthew’s heart. Upon the completion of this two-year program, Matthew was offered a permanent position in the relief sector…but it was a desk job. Matthew wanted something more.

An adventurer at heart, Matthew found himself looking for work in an adventure gym and volunteering for adventure camps. But while he enjoyed the work, he realized more and more that these camps had life-changing impacts on the lives of young people and a vision began to develop in his heart to use adventure to teach life skills to young people, particularly the underprivileged. He found an organisation that did just that, and put his whole heart into working there. When it closed a couple of years later, Matthew carried on, starting up his own organisation, called Vertical Life, to teach life skills through outdoor adventure education.

In Matthew’s own words, however, “the thing about a humanitarian heart is that it keeps calling you back.” During the Xenophobic attacks of mid-2008, Matthew found himself thinking over and over, “we’ve got to do something.” He contacted the Alexandra police department and, with the assistance of his church and donations from various companies, distributed goods to Zimbabwean refugees in Alexandra township. These events reignited the desire to be involved in relief work and Matthew found a job with RedR, setting up training and monitoring relief and disaster management for Oxfam, while concurrently maintaining the vision of Vertical Life and continuing to run adventure camps. All the while, however, there was still an internal battle in Matthew between the desire for adventure and the desire to serve.

In early 2009, as cholera outbreaks in Africa were increasingly reported, Matthew was asked the question, “what’s the latest in water purification?” and he found himself on a journey which led him to a personal portable filtration device called the LifeStraw. In the LifeStraw, he saw the potential to save lives and effect change through water treatment. Intending to join one of 3D-Outreach’s Weekend Exposure Trips to Zimbabwe, he started a Facebook group to see if he could raise enough money to bring 100 LifeStraws with him. He wanted to use the trip as a pilot project to see how the LifeStraw would be received and if it would be an effective device for use in Africa. He only got 20, but, undaunted, Matthew decided that 20 was better than nothing.

The trip proved to be a turning point in Matthew’s life journey. Not only was the LifeStraw a success, but at the border post, he met a family – a father, a mother, and a 4-year-old son – from Malaysia who had just finished the Africa leg of their family’s drive around the world. These “Malaysians in Motion,” as they called themselves, inspired a conversation with one of the other trip members about traveling Africa and distributing LifeStraws – a perfect marriage of Matthew’s desire for adventure and his compassionate heart.

Events snowballed from there and Matthew, along with a few committed friends, developed the Africa Project plan – to travel from Cape Town to Cairo in 2010 and distribute 200,000 LifeStraws to communities in need, specifically targeting current and future cholera hotspots. The Africa Project fits perfectly into Vertical Life’s focus of “uplifting individuals and uplifting communities,” and in addition to LifeStraw distribution, the expedition team also intends to bring education on sanitation and water safety.

God has already opened an amazing number of doors before Matthew and Vertical Life as he has begun to pursue the Africa Project, and Matthew has been amazed at what he has seen. Within a week of his return from Zimbabwe, he was already asked to an interview with Elana Africa on 5fm. Since then, Matthew has also had interviews with SABC Africa, Channel Africa, and One Gospel, and he has done talks for WITS Mission Week and St. John’s First Aid. OCHA, a branch of the UN has also offered assistance with connections throughout Africa as well. The project has drawn interest from the business and other sectors as well. Matthew even had the opportunity to meet with Kingsley Holgate, an adventurer-explorer and one of Matthew’s childhood heroes. Despite all of the publicity and excitement surrounding the Africa Project, however, Matthew continues to maintain his humility of heart. “It’s God’s project,” he says, “and by His grace, He chose to use Matthew, just a regular guy from nowhere special. My story is a story of grace.”

3D-Outreach has had the privilege of being there for the inception of the Vertical Life Africa Project idea, and we have been blessed to be able to walk the journey with Matthew, offering encouragement, resources, advice, and support along the way. We know that through the LifeStraw and the 2010 expedition, Matthew will have the amazing opportunity to bring the compassion of Christ to the nations and to places where others have been unable to go. We fully support his vision and we are excited to see the miracles that God continues to do as the scope of this project unfolds. To read more about the Africa Project, check out the website at: www.verticallife.co.za.

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