Proverbs 1:7-19, Psaims 119; 155; 169-176: Steven Brandon - Servant of God
The power of the Word of God in the lives of individuals is indeed marvelous. It has been my privilege for the past year and a half to be acquainted with a very sincere brother in Christ named Steve Brandon. Steve has a very interesting story and one I believe many can profit from hearing. He is an example of how the gospel can really change lives.
He was born in 1956 to a young woman who was unmarried. In order to "give the baby a name," she married and divorced after he was born. He was supposed to be given up for adoption, but because of the intervention of his grandmother and other relatives, he was kept. He was raised by his aunt and uncle until he turned three. After this, his mother married a man and they lived with his aunt and uncle until he was five. From the age of two and a half he remembers his "job" being "getting the whiskey from under the seat of the truck and bringing it to the men." He had his first drink of liquor at age two. The adults gave it to him.
He considers himself to have been addicted to alcohol from 1958-1985. He also began smoking and became nicotine addictive from 19631988. At the age of 14, his mother and stepfather told him things would be better if he were not around. For many years he had been abused, both mentally and physically. So at the age of 14 Steve went out on his own and became a "roughneck" in the oil fields of Texas. He was making $400 per week and living it up by drinking and carousing. Although he was making good money, he seldom had enough. His alcohol and cigarette habit and other vices quickly drained him of his money.
He began to experiment with a new drug during this time. It was called marijuana. This was a new kind of "high" for him and he became highly addicted to it. This abuse started in 1970 and continued until 1987. In order to "feel good" it began to take more and more of these drugs to get a "buzz." He could not start a day without his morning "joint."
All the parties and drugs were taking their toll on his energy and he needed more, so he turned to amphetamines and barbiturates (uppers and downers) from 1972-1986. There wasn't one of them he did not try at some point. About 1971 he had habits that were costing a lost. He quickly learned that he could make some "extra money" if he sold these drugs. He let it be known he was willing and he was "connected" with the suppliers.
A two year stint in the Navy did not help his morality. He was well traveled and very hardened by the world. He spent a lot of time in the brig in the Navy. He had a hot temper and would fight over anything. The drugs accelerated and heightened these characteristics.
From 1977 to 1987, he began his final journey into the drug culture and adopted cocaine, heroin and speed, as his "drugs of choice." In order to afford these drugs, he became "The Pusher. " If anyone wanted drugs in Edna, Texas (never make the mistake of thinking small towns do not have drug problems, sometimes they are the worst), "Redbone," as he was known, was the "man" to see. He was rugged, and intimidating and took nothing off of anyone. He had one redeeming quality (a sort of drug-dealer morality); he would not sell to children. He was a user and dealer for over 16 years. As a result of his wickedness he has one felony, several misdemeanor offenses, and two DWI convictions. He spent a lot of time in jail.
During the latter part of this time, he married a fine girl, who stuck with him. Neither were Christians, however. After a while, they were expecting a child. Steve was getting deeper and deeper into the drug scene and knew that he would soon be facing a crossroad in his life. It was just a matter of time before he may be called on to injure or kill someone. This is the way the drug life goes, He did not want his new child to have a life like he had, and did not want her to have a father as wicked as he was. He began searching for answers. He found them first while in jail.
There were some Christians who were coming to jail and having classes with the inmates at the county facility. Steve attended these classes and began to read the Bible. After he got out, he started attending services with these same people. Although they were "liberal" they still taught him about salvation and where the solutions to his tremendous guilt could be found. He humbled himself and was baptized, and then converted his wife. His daughter is now a member, too. He began to diligently work with the inmates himself, and has continued to do this since 1988. He had some struggles with his addictions and had a brief relapse for a couple of years, but "came to himself" and is now "clean and sober."
I do not know many individuals who are more dedicated or more thankful for the blessing of salvation than Steve. Since he began working with the inmates, there have been over 130 baptisms. He is extremely effective in dealing with them and when he speaks they all listen. He has an evangelistic zeal and a free heart. Although he makes very little money, he is, perhaps, the most free-hearted man, I have ever known.
He never became rich from his drug days, because he spent it all. As the prodigal son, he "wasted his substance on riotous living." He recently addressed our Junior High class on drugs and their effects. This was difficult for him, but he really made an impact.
To any young people who may be reading this article, Steve would want you to know that Drugs will lead you into sin and destruction. You may think you want to live without any restrictions, but coming from one who tried it, he would want you to know, it is a lonely life. He wishes he had parents that cared about his well-being. He wishes he had someone who cared enough to tell him no, and to stick to it. He lived his life with "all the worldly gusto, he could muster" and has sad memories. He has suffered permanent damage as a result of this life. He is almost blind in one eye because of a fight, he has joint problems from cigarettes and marijuana. He has memory lapses from cocaine and is unable to sleep through the night because of instances of paranoia. He suffers headaches and has trouble being in a room with a door shut. In spite of this, he has set his mind to learn the Bible. He says that all the drugs in the world cannot compare to the "high" he experiences when one he has taught obeys the Gospel. He loves attending services and is always busy doing the work of the Lord.
To see him, might intimidate you, if you did not know him. He has the rugged marks of the world on him, but under all of that, he is a tender-hearted compassionate servant of Jesus Christ, who cares deeply for his brethren and for lost souls everywhere. He has little or no patience with those who are involved with drugs and refuse to put them aside. He can readily identify anyone who is a user. He has turned his back on the drug life, and as a result has made some folks upset. However, they have left him alone, partly because of his firmness.
I thank God that I have been privileged to know Steve and his family and to count him as my friend and brother in Christ. The gospel truly is the "power of God unto salvation. " We work together having classes at the jail now, and it is a field that is truly "white unto harvest." These souls are hurting and are looking for answers. If you are not seizing this opportunity where you are located, start now!
His courage, conviction and desire to do right moved him to leave the liberal church where he was attending and to take a stand for right with the people of God. He is dedicated and staunch in his desire to do "exactly" what God wants him to do.
Yes, a dealer named "Redbone" died in 1987. In his place emerged Steven Brandon. As Paul said about himelf, "no longer I live but Christ liveth in me," this is true of Steve. He has given a few sermons but is best at small classes and gatherings. He wants to preach more and more and is preparing himself to do this. Thank God for the power of Truth and for fertile soil like Steve (please read Phil. 4:13; 1 Cor. 10:13; Psa. 19:14-27; Prov. 10).
If anyone would like to contact him, he can be reached by writing P.O. Drawer Y, Edna, Texas 77957. He stands ready to serve any who feel he would be helpful.
Guardian of Truth XXXVI: 7, pp. 206-207