Student Origins: Elizabeth Mattia
By Alicia Reeve
Newly crowned homecoming queen Elizabeth Mattia is a third-year senior who has shared her heart for God and people continuously at Grace College over the past three years. Born in Tiffin, Ohio, Mattia’s childhood origins were not easy. Her parents divorced soon after her birth, leaving her mother to raise Mattia and her brother alone.
Two years later, her mom remarried, introducing Mattia to a new stepdad and three older stepbrothers. With many of her family members struggling with bipolar disorder, Mattia’s childhood was very challenging.
“I learned through counseling that I was completely neglected as a child,” said Mattia. “Because there was always so much going on, my mom wasn’t able to give me attention. Any attention I was given as a child was mental and sexual abuse from my stepbrother or stepdad.” As she grew up, Mattia coped with her situation by throwing herself into extracurriculars.
After many years, her mom divorced her stepfather. While living in their old house, Mattia’s mom worked as a physical therapist at a nursing home. After conversing with a pastor about building a better life for her kids, Mattia’s family started attending Harvest Baptist Temple, which turned out to be an answer to her mother’s prayers. The family moved to Clyde, Ohio, into an apartment a block away from the church, and Elizabeth and her brother started to attend the school affiliated with the church.
Even though their new living situation was a small, flea-infested apartment with no running water, Elizabeth and her family were incredibly happy there “because God was there, and we were out of that sinful environment.” God provided everything that they needed. The church stepped up and took care of the family by cooking them meals when they could not afford food for themselves, the neighbors opened their homes for them to shower at their house, and the school allowed Elizabeth to continue in her love for sports and drama.
It was at this church that Mattia and her brother became believers. “The first time I heard the story of Jesus and what He had done for me, I said, ‘Sign me up. I am all-in. I am all over this. I need and want this in my life,’” said Mattia. “I fell on my knees in the gymnasium; it was amazing. From that moment on, I have never been the same.”
Mattia’s life emphasizes proclaiming Christianity and meaning it. She earnestly seeks Christ. She does not look at her life story as a way to get sympathy, but as a testimony to God’s ability to create beautiful things out of the ashes.
Although her life did not necessarily become easier after accepting Christ, Mattia continues to seek after God, using her many talents to bring Him glory.