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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

New Year Updates and Prayer Requests

Hello everyone!
   It is great to report to you some of what is going on in the Kingdom!  I hope this update finds you well and that you enjoy the chance to read about some of what God has done.  We can send you a pretty version of this newsletter if you email us at  Thank you, and have a great New Year!

A Story
Walking up to the front door of the house on a cold December morning, I noticed a sign ‘no soliciting’ followed by ‘no religious soliciting’ and then a third sign ‘no soliciting whatsoever’.  I was at the house that morning with a few strong college guys I had brought with me after receiving a call from a local church that someone needed help moving.  However, there were no moving trucks present, not much appeared packed, there were no real signs of life inside, and the signs made me hesitant to ring the doorbell—I wondered if I had the wrong address.  Hoping it wouldn’t go badly, I rang the doorbell.

When the woman answered the door, she appeared confused for a second, and then she immediately began apologizing—explaining that her dad had called the church to cancel the move.  (It turned out that a few churches had been contacted and he didn’t know to call the one that called me, so we were never informed of the cancellation).  She then got very teary-eyed, and I could tell that something was deeply bothering her.  I said a quick prayer internally and we began what turned into a forty-five minute deep discussion about her strong considerations of suicide the day before and even that morning as we were arriving, her current condition in life, and her feeling of having no value.  As I was praying internally, I encouraged her about her value and used examples from her own stories to highlight it.  I honestly feel that God was really the one speaking to her, because I could see in her eyes the ways that the words were hitting her, encouraging her, and helping her.  I wanted to emphasize that I felt like it was really God who wanted her to know how valuable she was, so I told her that, and she said that she really felt that our stopping by when we did while she was at such a critical moment was entirely an act of God.

Eventually I understood the situation better, and I realized that she needed some people to help her organize her items and box them.  I also began to realize that, right or wrong, she didn’t feel respected since many people around her didn’t listen to her.  Since that was the case, I picked some sweet young ladies to help her organize whom I knew she would be comfortable with and who would listen to her.  I joined them, and the first day we listened to her for about thirty minutes before we got started.  As she talked, I think she started to see that we really did care about what was important to her; once she noticed that, she calmed down considerably, and we got quite a bit accomplished.  This same process was repeated several times over the next few weeks with different crews of young college ladies and me as we helped her get ready.  Finally, we assembled a big crew and helped her load everything into a U-Haul with her family.  She was so much relieved and so very thankful, and I really thank God for the opportunity He gave us to help her out and to be blessed by helping her out.  I could see in the eyes of quite a few of the college students involved in this endeavor that this experience was a big blessing to them, too.  It made me very happy to see so many amazing things accomplished over those two weeks—and all of them unexpected.
I share this story because it is one of many from last month alone.  The stories of how the Kingdom is advancing here and how God is using individuals in the ministry are too numerous to put into this newsletter and would be too time consuming to fit on the prayer blog.  Also, most of the stories are too private to share due to other peoples’ confidentiality; many details were even left out of the story above. 
That said, I do want to share what I can with you about what is happening here and how incredibly exciting it is to see and to be a part of it.  I want you to realize that through reading this and through praying for us (and some of you through supporting me financially as a missionary and ministry leader), you ARE a part of this.  Thank you SO MUCH for what you are doing and for sharing in this work with us!  We are blessed to have you, and I want you to remember that you are always welcome to come alongside us in person in one of our small groups, at the game nights, or on special projects or mission trips, as well.  If there is anything that you want to join—even just to see the Kingdom work first hand and experience it without coming back or joining long term—please let me know, and please come and be encouraged.  Thank you for your blessings last year and we look forward to sharing this New Year with you!

A Personal Lesson in Humility

“No, I don’t need those cards; it’s ok—I am happy to help you out!” I said to the young man. 

To help make ends meet and to be a good steward, I continue to sell anything I own of value that I don’t use much, and this includes some collectible cards.  This young gentleman knew that I was selling them to earn money, but he didn’t have money and really wanted some of them, so he wanted to trade.  He proposed a card trade that was unequal in financial value, but that left me receiving more cards in number, and I accepted it since he wanted the cards so badly.  Later, he wanted to give me some more cards because he had gained financially in the trade, but I told him that I didn’t need them and was happy to help him complete the card sets he wanted.  At the time I didn’t see how this was prideful on my part, but then God taught me a beneficial lesson.
I was drinking my morning coffee in Semolino at our Tuesday morning small group, listening as each person shared some about how the verses we had just read in scripture affected them.  At the time, Martha, who leads a local coffee house ministry, was sharing with some of the college students a very unique quote that related to the scripture we had just read.  It was something to the effect that ‘we have to be humble enough that the poor can forgive us for helping them.’ 

It struck me as a very unique statement at the time, but also as a very true one.  I could understand how our giving to the poor is an assault on their pride.  In fact, I often have to overcome my pride to allow myself to receive help from others—especially when I am capable of ‘doing it on my own.’  As I was thinking, it struck me that this is exactly what had happened with the young man and the card trade.  His pride was hurt because he knew he had received the better end of the deal and couldn’t financially repay me.  Even though the cards he was offering weren’t really cards I needed at the time and didn’t financially offset anything, I should have graciously accepted them for the sake of his pride instead of refusing them and telling him that I was happy to help.  Though I couldn’t see it at the time, that was a very prideful thing to do!

Later that week, this lesson proved to be directly valuable when I got a call from an international student who needed help jump-starting her car on a frigidly cold day.  As soon as I had jump-started it, I could tell that the battery was bad and needed replaced.  I took her to a local auto parts store and helped her pick a good battery that was still pretty cheap.  On our way back to campus, she said that she wanted to buy me some food to say thank you.  It was about supper time, but I had already eaten and had some pretty physical activity that I had to do immediately after she dropped me off, plus I was in a hurry to get back to campus, and she knew that.  I mentioned that I just had eaten and didn’t have much time, but she insisted that she wanted to buy me some food.  Remembering the lesson, I thanked her greatly for her generosity and let her buy me a one-dollar burger at a fast food shop on the way to town.  I also made a point of eating it, enjoying it, and thanking her for the food as she dropped me off.

In truth, I really was full and would have benefited from not eating, especially since I began some physical work immediately after she dropped me off.  What was really important in this situation though, was the person and her pride.  I was very glad that she called and more than happy to help—that’s what my time is for, but in her mind she felt like a burden and like she was stealing my time.  To free her from that, I had to be humble enough to help her.  It was and is honestly a difficult thing for me to do, and I thank God for helping me become aware of it.

A New Thing…  And a Prayer Request

“Thwack!” is the sound a body makes when it hits the mats in a dojo.  I know, because I have taught Aikido for the Fort Hays State University Aikido club for the last couple of years and assisted with instruction before that.  The FHSU Aikido club has been one of my largest connections to students and to campus.  Many of the individuals who come to our game nights and small groups come from Aikido or know me originally from when I am on campus to teach Aikido. 

What is Aikido?  Aikido is a self-defensive Japanese martial art that seeks to protect both the attacked and the attacker.  It also has a very unique philosophy.  The founder of the art wrote in his book The Art of Peace, “The Way of a Warrior is based on humanity, love, and sincerity; the heart of martial valor is true bravery, wisdom, love, and friendship.  Emphasis on the physical aspects of warriorship is futile, for the power of the body is always limited.”  This is evident in the art; smaller aikido students can disable larger, stronger attackers because they use Aikido principles to redirect their attacker’s energy, take their balance, and neutralize them through throws, chokes, or joint locks and pins.

The longer that I have studied Aikido, the more I have seen parallels between it and the Way of life that Christ talks about.  In fact, the parallels are so strong that I have long desired to teach a ‘Godly Warrior’s’ class that would discuss how to embody Biblical principles of love, respect, compassion, harmony and peacemaking in day-to-day life while practicing them in Aikido.  Now, I get the chance!  I am opening my own school, Aikido of Northwest Kansas, at 208 E 8th in Hays on January 15th.  I am very excited to add this venue for ministry to what I already do.  We will offer early church prayer meditation classes in the morning, the Godly Warriors program and youth program in the afternoon, and Aikido classes in the evenings (more info at  The best part is that I will still be able to do all of the ministry that I currently do.  This only adds twelve hours a week to what I already teach in Aikido and lets me spend more time with many of the students I hope Christ will reach through Unite.  It is also my hope that these twelve hours a week will replace the small odd jobs that I currently do to augment my missionary support, providing the same income while letting me do more ministry with that time.

I strongly request prayers for this endeavor and for its financial success.  Starting a new part-time business with a very low income from my full time missionary work is quite a stretch, but it is do-able and I believe that this is important for the Kingdom opportunities it presents.  THANK YOU for your prayers!—Brandon