Alumni Parent with a Mission
In 1994, George Nichols and his wife Renee were looking for just the right school for their two young boys, with the clear intention of sending them to a Christian school. Through their connection with Alumni families such as Paula and Rob Boyer, Bev and Les Barkley, Karen and Tim McSunas – they found a way to reach their goal of raising children together in the Christian faith at MCS.
Their years as parents of school-age children were filled with incredible memories as Matthew and Taylor grew up too fast before their very eyes: wonderful teachers, life-long friendships being made, Bible memorization, field trips, Washington, DC… and especially being a community in Christ together at MCS, praying for each other, and supporting through life’s circumstances.
An Unexpected Hurdle: After the boys graduated from MCS and Matthew graduated from Mater Dei High School, the Nichols received the news that every family dreads: cancer. In 2011, Renee was diagnosed with colon cancer as part of her 50th birthday medical testing. The Nichols family would transition into a season filled with highs and lows, joys and sorrows, and walking by Faith during a time that held little clarity.
“Renee’s cancer shook our world, but not our faith. We gathered friends and family and began praying but never asking why. ‘Life is hard, but God is good’ is what we told people — believers as well as non-believers. Renee honored God in all she did and wherever she was — her faith grew stronger even when the news was bad (which was most of the time).”
Finding Purpose in the Midst of Pain: Then, on January 1, 2014, George and Renee received the news that would alter their lives forever: their youngest son Matthew lost his life in a tragic accident. There were no words to describe the pain of that moment or the journey that would follow. He was 22 years old when he went home to Heaven.
Even still, the Nichols were spiritual warriors and clung ever closer to the Lord. Within a very short period of time, the Nichols felt a prompting – a calling – from the Holy Spirit to boldly carry on the legacy of Matthew’s life. Through countless letters, texts, and calls, they learned of the quiet impact for Christ Matthew had been making in his world. Hundreds of lives were changed for the better because of their encounters and conversations with Matthew. The Nichols family created a website and friends designed a special bracelet coining Matthew’s favorite phrase “Carpe Diem.” George and Renee established the Matthew Nichols Memorial Fund at MCS, which presents inscribed Bibles to 8th grade athletes, as well as a time to connect, talk about Matthew’s life, high school, and “what matters most.”
Very shortly after, George learned that his wife’s cancer was back, in full force, and that she had a very short time to live. Together they spent those final days connecting with Jesus, with each other, and with others who needed to hear the Gospel.
Matthew’s and Renee’s Stories Continue: Today, George stands with his son Taylor as a man with his eyes fully fixed on Jesus. He is committed to continue telling Matthew’s and Renee’s story and seeing how God leverages that for His glory – helping young people, like the students at MCS, realize “What Matters Most.”