I was born in Portland, Oregon to a first generation immigrant family from Germany. My mom raised me in the faith and taught me a love for the Word of God. Out of this instruction, I grew into a deep pursuit of the life of David through grade school and junior high. The Bible became a book I wanted to understand.
My earliest memories are in 6th grade reading the Bible from cover to cover. In my teen years, I had a deep affection for the ministry of Billy Graham and would watch his telecasts, usually crying during the altar calls. Looking back now, I see all of this as foundational to where God was going to take me in my life. My passion for the lost was born during this time and became a central part of my thinking.
I attended Pacific Lutheran University (PLU) completing a business degree with a focus in marketing. A major influence in my college life was Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book, “The Cost of Discipleship,” which compelled me to pray in my dorm room at night for God to never let me forsake His call to reach the lost for any other pursuit.
God was using the campus of PLU as a training ground for what I was going to be called into across many universities. One of the fun stories was Nikki Cruz coming to Olson auditorium and the majority of the campus being able to hear the gospel clearly explained. I can still remember the great outpouring of salvation which further cemented and completed the foundation of the pursuit of the gospel and the lost.
I met my wife, Christy, in college and we both shared a passion for Matthew 10 and we often would sit on a park bench while on dates in Portland, Oregon, praying and dreaming about changing the world together. I spent the first 11 years after college in the marketplace where God trained me in leadership principles that would become pillar attributes in my life.
Faith says, "God Can, God Will, God Does.”
“Jesus is the center of all theology, yet to just grow your mind without letting your hands and feet go is only half the joy possible in this life. It is both knowing the love of God and freely giving that love away. Love and truth joined is Jesus.”
One of the defining moments was my wife Christy coming to me towards the end of my business career and asking me “Have we really done what we talked about on all our dates on those park benches?” We immediately moved a mile from PLU and as my wife began to lead these electrifying women’s Bible studies, everything soon exploded into evangelism in high schools, the training of young people, and growing revelation of the power we have in the freedom of Christ.
Later, while attending Reinhard Bonnke’s School of Evangelism with 50 other leaders, I would never have imagined that disruption that was coming in the midst of all that God was doing in the northwest. Reinhard approached me during the break and asked me a startling question, “When was the last time I had done something preposterous? He said I was in a ‘faithfulness rut’ and that the salary I was getting from the church was holding me back from living a life of faith for souls. The word was confirmed through many spiritual fathers including Loren Cunningham, Jerry Fry, Mark Anderson, and John Dawson. This began my family’s journey to Kona, Hawaii where we transitioned from local ministry to full-time missions.
Today, we find ourselves in Huntington Beach, California working with YWAM and Circuit Riders (www.crmovement.com). I enjoy training and speaking to young people and developing leaders for the purpose of reaching the lost and awakening the saved. I love seeing people get free from every area that hinders them from exploding in their full potential in Christ. I enjoy catalyzing gatherings that bring the body of Christ together.
We have four children who are all in full-time ministry. I am an ordained pastor and received my Doctoral degree in Strategic Leadership from Faith Seminary.
One of the backdrops to the writing of the material has been an extraordinary teamwork in working with my wife Christy. Her keen understanding of Scripture along with her passionate life of intercession, continually inspired and catalyzed the writing of these training materials that you will find on this website. What is worth noting is that Christy has done this through 34 years of chronic illness, which has now been determined to be Lyme’s disease. Her story of suffering has been a foundation for a greater revelation for the love of Christ and the joy that is ours, regardless of circumstances. True intimacy with Christ was forged and continues to be forged through the fellowship hall of His sufferings.
The Lord’s loving kindness indeed never ceases, His compassions never fail, they are new every morning.
“Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, or straw, then each man’s work will become evident for the day will show it. Because it is to be revealed with fire;
and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.”
1 Cor. 3:12-13
Here is my wife, Christy Brennt’s, personal testimony:
I was born in Tacoma, Washington at Tacoma General Hospital the younger sister to my only sibling Darry. My earliest memories are of my mom Shirley walking in a great love for the Lord. She just beamed with such a tender and beautiful love. My dad is Bert and when he talked about God he called him the “big man upstairs.” Bert had a radical conversion at 54 years of age in an amazing moment with Brian.
When I was growing up my family were holiday church goers, but God had His hand on my life and called me when I was six years old. There was this little white church on the edge of our neighborhood and I would walk down to it with my little Bible on Sunday. The Lord was calling me; “You did not choose me, but I chose you, that you should go and bear good fruit and that your fruit would remain.” Vacation Bible School would sustain me as a little girl. Every summer I would encounter God’s love over and over through the kindness of the women who led the schools.
In Junior High, my mom drove me to Mountain Park Baptist and it was led by radical leaders from the tail-end of the Jesus Movement. They preached a sold-out brand of Christianity and it began a growing divide between me and my peers. Friends trailed off in their commitment, but my passion escalated. God’s grace was poured out upon me and I was filled with a divine, resoluteness and an unwillingness to compromise. This naturally caused a drift. Unknowingly, I moved to solve the drift in social tension by joining my peers in extra-curricular activities — subconsciously believing that accomplishment would win respect and friendship. It did at first, but then as a typical overachiever, my self-worth was firmly rooted in accomplishment. By the end of Freshman year in High School striving had spun out of control. It was a picture of a person pursuing two opposing goals. I was pursuing the approval of man and striving for achievement with all my strength and at the same time pursuing the Lord.
My life verse was born in those years:
“Now if any man builds upon the foundation with gold, silver, precious stone, wood, hay, or straw,
then each man’s work will become evident for the day will show it. Because it is to be revealed with fire;
and the fire itself will test the quality of each man’s work.” 1 Cor. 3:12-13
I won’t list for you all the activities suffice it to say – all that wood, hay kept me moving at an unhuman pace and kept me up nightly to the early hours. I was 15 years old in the spring of 1980 when it all caught up with me. I was running track and holding ridiculous hours and on top of that fanatically dieting. My running times got slower and slower – so instead of eating or sleeping I would go back to the track at night and would run the whole practice again. “If I was perfect, I would have to be respected and loved.” Obviously, this culminated into a real problem. I remember the day — even the smells. A day on the track my head spinning laying down on the locker room bench. Fear swept over me, “Oh Lord, what is happening to me? What is happening to me?” I’ve often wondered what the real answer would have sounded like had the Lord just flatly answered my question. Maybe something like this:
Child, I’ll tell you what is happening, you’re sick…in fact, your very sick.
Child, you are about to start a long and painful death … to yourself.
“Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains alone,but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” John 12:24
God did not bring illness – but this He would use to His glory. If I was ever to be used of God, and I wanted to be – The Great Physician was going to have to come and do major surgery – but not in the way I thought. I needed to die to selfish ambition and striving, and learn to depend on Him.
What had looked like precious stones to me, was hay in God’s eyes. (1 Cor. 4:5 says He knows the motives of men’s hearts.)
The Bible says: He must increase, I must decrease.
My heart motivation was: He must increase, and I must increase too.
Slowly the Lord revealed hidden confidences outside of Christ. I had just begun a Holy Spirit led program for developing a pure and deep dependence on God. What the enemy meant for harm, God used for good. In High School I tried to maintain a normal life. I missed 40 days some years and compiled health problems that required surgery. But I still had ambition – I wanted to be an accredited Christian Counselor.
I went to college and those were some of the darkest and loneliest day that I remember. Until a summer night in 1984. I was going to be a sophomore at P.S.U. I went to a barn dance hosted by my church and I was unusually healthy and outgoing. I introduced myself to a shy young man I had repeatedly noticing through the evening. In a moment of boldness, this young man invited me to Church and we spent a long day together. His passion for God was astounding. I kept thinking about this person and about this amazing conversation we had that day. This guy wanted to change the world for God. Well, guys are full of big talk … but there was something genuine about this person and I think He’s really going to do it. At the time I felt that I had found a friend that shared the deepest passion of my heart. We dated through distance and didn’t taste real life together. Brian was an incredible letter writer and after two years when I was going to school in Europe and Brian was at PLU I knew this was it – he was it.
We were engaged and married three years from when we meet. We couldn’t possibly foresee through our 22-year-old idealistic lens the trail that was ahead of us with a chronic, debilitating illness. We were sobered quickly. We moved to Utah and Brian started a career and I attempted to finish school but ended up bed-ridden the entire year. Our expectations were shattered. Brian had no grace time to figure out the role of a husband before needing to adjust to being a caregiver. It was incredibly lonely, but we learned and grew deep in our friendship. We moved back to Portland and I had a real improvement in health and I was able to graduate from college. I was burdened with a deep desire to be in Seminary and to serve the Lord. But ambition was still alive; “I had the plan! Lord, you’re going to love it”!
After college my plan was to go to Seminary and get Doctorate in Christian Counseling. I would reserve my energy and put all my strength in to it, I can do this. Now, this was honorable, I said, I’ll serve Jesus and help people. I thought, I’ll be important, and people will have to respect me. For heaven’s sake I’ll have initials after my name. I was able to finally go to seminary! Happy days, I was living my dream, life just didn’t get better. I was only eight weeks in when the plug was pulled because of my health and I could no longer make it to class. I was sitting in Theology class I faced the inevitable, because of my health I could not keep up with Graduate level work.
The Lord’s loving kindness indeed never ceases, His compassions never fail, they are new every morning.
The Lord met me on that ride home from seminary. Never, had I heard the Lord speak so loudly and mistakenly. My thought was, My life is over; I have no dreams, I have no ability, I have nothing to place confidence in…nothing but you Lord. His voice so clear, “That’s right you have finally arrived at the place I want you to be. So busy planning your life you did not listen for me, my leading, my direction. By trying to save your dignity, your life, you were losing it. Now you have lost it for my sake and you will find it.
“If any man would come after me he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever tries to save his life will lose it- whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25
That is building in precious stone. Simply hear and obey.
God’s plan began to unfold. We started our family of four incredible children and, because of work, ended up in Tacoma, Washington. Brian went to Seminary at night and we met up with an old friend in 1993 who challenged us to move within one mile of Pacific Lutheran University and pour our lives into college students. I was 35 years old and in the old Farmhouse we bought there were times that 200 women would fit up in the living room, up the stairs and in the rooms adjacent to the living room. We came into contact with a broken and sorrowful generation. A generation who had seen too much life for 20 years old. We did not know how to heal them, nor did we know what they needed healing from. All we knew to do was to teach the Bible but the whole concept of healing was new to us.
In 1998, we started a college church on Saturday night. We wanted to see students who had given their lives to Christ at our Bible Studies or College Ministry have a church home. That began the amazing adventure where the material you see here started to be written. First in handouts and then years later in training manuals. Loren Cunningham told us that after your pioneering season is over you write down what you learned so we did. What an incredible journey from the Northwest to Kona and unto California pioneering on college campuses all over America and into the nations.
Still I fight this neurological lymes disease and these last six years in California I have spent the majority of the time immobilized in my bedroom. The story of suffering did not end, but nor did the victories that go on in Jesus. When you read Brave Love you will get a feel for what God has been doing while I have been in California.
Our children are Nick (26), Chloe who is married to Derek Mack (23), Spencer (21) and Joshua (16).
One of the hardest, most difficult things when you are as sick, is to rise up out of the shadows and pain and not be silent. The sickness can make you feel silent, but in the silence, God can do great things. I will be writing the story of what I have been through and the hope that is in Christ. Look for it in about a year’s time.