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Former Army ranger develops student ministry that battles spiritual warfare

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (BP)–Scott Brawner did not always feel a call to youth ministry. But he knows what it is to be a troubled teenager. Brawner, a master of Christian education student at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, was once involved in a paramilitary group searching for a reason to live. With that experience behind him, Brawner is trying to find ways for teenagers to find a purpose for their own lives through evangelism and mission opportunities.

“As a child, I struggled with personal anger, bitterness and self-worth,” Brawner said. “Because of this, I was prone to emotional outbursts which hurt those closest to me.”

He reached a turning point during his junior year of high school, terminating his involvement in a paramilitary group and searching for a reason to live. In January of 1988, Brawner was invited to a Bible study before school and soon agreed to attend a Youth for Christ rally. One week later, Brawner went back to the same rally to have fun with his friends, but what he found was the best friend he would ever know.

The speaker spoke of teenagers in the audience struggling with “personal anger, bitterness and self-worth.” By the end of the message, Brawner said, “I knew that without Jesus I would never have inner peace and that I would go to hell if I died.” He hesitated at first, but Brawner walked down to the front where he accepted Christ.

After high school, Brawner enlisted in the Army. “For three weeks, I tried to make it in my own power, but I failed,” Brawner said. Kneeling in a bathroom stall one night, he recommitted his life to Christ.

“Throughout my enlistment, the Lord never left me,” he said. Brawner completed Airborne School and the Ranger program and served in the First Ranger Battalion. While in Georgia, Brawner had begun serving as a youth minister at Glyndale Baptist Church in Brunswick, where he developed a vision for equipping and empowering Christian young people to evangelize the lost and enhance their local church ministries.

The desire he and many of the teenagers expressed for intensive biblical and personal training, fervent prayer and unique mission opportunities led Brawner to develop a ministry he calls Faithworks. “I realized that kids entering college don’t know the Bible,” Brawner said. “More Southern Baptist kids are converting to Mormonism than any other religion.”

Faithworks is a multi-faceted ministry Brawner created “to equip and empower Christian young people to evangelize the lost and enhance their local church ministries through intensive biblical and personal training, fervent prayer and unique missions opportunities worldwide.”

The students also learn specific skills for a 15-day mission project in another country. Students choose to work on teams with activities they enjoy such as drama/singing, puppets, sign language, sports, horses, camping/hiking and carpentry/building. For two days, students apply the skills they learned in the United States at the Ground School.

“Faithworks has taken young adults and teens to Israel, Jordan and North Africa,” Brawner said. They also have plans for a trip to the Himalayas this June when they will “hike” the gospel to unreached people groups. Recently, Brawner’s ministry took six students of college and high school ages to assist in disaster relief in Turkey where people are still suffering from last year’s catastrophic earthquake.

Unique and challenging mission trips are just a part of what Faithworks does. They also offer year round discipleship ministries such as Disciple Now weekends, seminars and small group settings. Another arm of the ministry, “Get off the Porch,” challenges young adults and teens for what Brawner describes as “kingdom leadership” by teaching the next generation of leaders to assume responsibilities in the local church. Faithworks also provides evangelism training and opportunities, an arm of the ministry currently being utilized by local churches and associations with Crossover training seminars and retreats.

“God called me into youth ministry,” Brawner said, but is quick to acknowledge, “I’m a walking trophy of God’s grace. There’s no other way to explain it.”

For more information on how to become involved with Brawner’s ministry, write to Faithworks, P.O. Box 14252, Kansas City, MO, 64152, (816) 210-7925, or by E-mail at [email protected]

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  • Andrea Aldridge & Rodney E. Penn