What I Didn’t Expect Was Brandon

by DanWolgemuth on November 21, 2016

The final appeal had been made. The cards had been filled out. The closing prayer offered.

I stood by Table 12 at the front of the room, assembled my belongs, and turned for the conversations that typically occur after a Youth For Christ fund raising banquet. What I didn’t expect was Brandon.

Brandon is a high school junior. He was a student volunteer for our event in rural Illinois. He stood in the back of the room while I filled my 30-minute speaking slot with scripture, stories and an appeal.

While I had hoped that my talk would touch the hearts of receptive partners, I hadn’t expected it to ignite the heart of a 17-year-old.

Brandon’s cheeks were flushed and his eyes were alive. Whatever protocol might have been typical in waiting in a queue, he violated, but passionately and appropriately so.

He raced to recap the evening. Ironically, my mind had just been doing the same thing. I had wondered, not more than 5 minutes before, whether my words had been focused enough to make a compelling case. I had leaned into a theme that pressed into our created identity. Image bearers. God’s masterpiece.

Genesis 1:27 and Ephesians 2:10. Had it worked? Did it connect? Was it too much too fast?

Amazingly, Brandon pitched a tent on that very theme.

“Two years ago I was an atheist. I didn’t believe God existed.”

From there he unpacked a bit of his family background and then he launched, with joy, into the delight of his discovery… “God is my Father. I have an identity in Him. I know who I am. I know who He is.”

I was rocked by the power of the story. I had expected the customary handshakes, introductions, and reminiscing that accompanies an evening like this, but I never expected the explosive delight of a student volunteer.

I don’t know if Brandon caught a glimpse of the reservoir of tears that had begun to accumulate in the corners of my eyes… but his story and the power of God’s rescuing reach touched me. No, it embraced me in unconstrained joy.

Hope is uncontainable. Transformation is irresistible. Brandon was inspirational.

I wanted to grab the microphone and pull everyone back to their seats. “This is what I was talking about. The love of Jesus works. The grace of God is powerful.”

But it was my soul that needed the message. It was my heart that needed to be rocked once again. Through Brandon.

From the lips of a young man whose assignment had been to clear dishes and pour coffee… a transcendent message. The Good News about Jesus is still Good News.

This is why. This is who. This is how.

For Brandon. Through Jesus. By grace.

Thanksgiving indeed. Grace unveiled.



Image bearers of God. His masterpiece.

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