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The Dark Days

Our mission at Bethel is to lead transformed lives by experiencing, embodying and extending the grace of Christ to others. How we each go about fulfilling this mission will be unique to each one of us and fulfilling this mission will likely reveal our “ministry.” All of us are called to be ministers of the gospels. That doesn’t mean we will each preach, teach, or lead a small group, but every Christian is called to love God, love others and minister to others. To quote C.S. Lewis, “Every Christian is to become a little Christ. The whole purpose of becoming a Christian is simply nothing else.”
 
Anne Brandon with her two sons Michael and CarterThe Lord has given Anne Brandon a unique ministry, but before I share her calling, let me share a little bit about Anne. Anne is literally a life long Bethel member. She was on the “Cradle Roll” at Bethel. She grew up in Midlothian and she has two wonderful sons, Michael and Carter. Anne has a very successful Real Estate career. She’s worked for Long and Foster Realtors for over 40 years. While Real Estate is Anne’s vocation, her calling is to help remove the stigma attached to mental illness and to love and care for people who are suffering with mental illness.
 
This is Anne’s testimony in her own words,
“In December of 2017, I was part of a journey that culminated in a happy ending but began with a girl on a path of destruction. Her family saw a change in her around Thanksgiving when she seemed withdrawn. Depression hit hard on December 31st when she questioned the will to live. She couldn’t believe that she was this depressed. What happened to bring this on was an imbalance in her brain that persisted until she hit rock bottom.
 
Fortunately her family was there to catch her and help her to believe in herself again. She was diagnosed bipolar and put on medication that helped her lead a normal life again. In addition to medication she also saw a spiritual counselor who tied religion to mental health. She felt lucky to not only have the support of her church and family but also the blessings of the Lord to continue living.
 
The biggest thing she learned was to take her prescribed medicine and stay positive. She learned to stay focused taking on one task at a time versus an abundance of things at once. Bipolar means being happy or sad to an extreme. It is a state of mind that with medication and counseling can usually be overcome, but rarely cured. Every year about 2 million Americans suffer from bipolar, many of whom lead normal lives after treatment.
 
I am one of these people and I am the girl in this story. Fortunately I no longer suffer the effects of this disease and that is a gift of God’s grace. God has worked through doctors, counselors, my wonderful family, our church family and the miracle of modern medicine to get me healthy again. I’m blessed and I’m hopeful that God can use my experience to help others. I’m praying that one day we could form a mental health support group at our church and I’m praying that we would be able talk about mental illness like we talk about any other disease and there would be no stigma attached to this disease.”
It takes a good deal of courage and vulnerability for Anne to share her story. Anne went through a tremendous amount of pain and heartache while she was sick and now she’s willing to step into other’s pain to let them know they are not alone and the God that loved her through her pain, is there to love them through their pain.
 
In telling her story, Anne shows us what redemption and transformation looks like. God can take the worst of our days and somehow use them to help other people who are facing their dark days. As you go forward in faith let’s remember our mission, to live transformed lives by experiencing, embodying and extending the grace of Christ to others.
 
How will you live out this mission? What is your ministry? One clue in answering this question is to look back at the dark days of your life, perhaps you can help others who are going through whatever it is that you’ve been through. May God bless Anne Brandon and her family and may God bless our Bethel Church family as we live redeemed and transformed lives for Christ. Amen.
 
Todd

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