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Entries in Colorado (18)

Monday
Feb112013

Chris Bratton's Journey to More

CBC-Colorado graduate and street minister, Chris Bratton.
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One year before Chris Bratton became a student at Charis Bible College, he was employed as a heavy equipment operator near Dalton, Georgia. At the time, Chris led several small groups for youth and young adults at the church he attended, but the prayer in his heart revealed his desire for more. His prayers were those of a thankful man; he was thankful for his job and the ministries the Lord had opened to him. He also prayed with a servant's heart, "If You want me somewhere else, I will go wherever You want me. If there is something else, if there is more...I want more." Today Chris is far from Georgia, living his new life of more, ministering the love of God to the people of Colorado Springs.

Chris has believed in Jesus since he was a young boy, but it wasn't until spending time in jail that he truly received Jesus as his Savior. After being arrested four times in six months, on alcohol and drug related charges, Chris lost his driving privileges for five years and spent a Chris, in 2010, on his way to Colorado to soak in the Word. (Click to enlarge) month-and-a-half in jail. While incarcerated, he turned to Jesus and asked Him to help him overcome his struggles with substance abuse. "Every day since opening my heart and surrendering my life, I know His presence has never left me. He has been with me every moment since that day," said Chris.

After his release from jail, Chris began visiting a local church; there he connected with a young adult small group. His involvement with the group helped him find his place in the Body of Christ and further established his walk with the Lord. Three years later, as Chris' true identity in Christ was revealed to him, his leadership skills began to emerge and he started leading Chris found out who God created him to be by spending time in the Word. (Click to enlarge)the group. Chris' style equipped those within the gathering to step forward and engage their faith; he encouraged them to have a voice and participate in the discipleship process. In addition, he began taking small numbers of people out into the streets of the local area to minister to anyone they encountered.

Through his church Chris also found a mentor, a man well acquainted with Andrew's ministry. This friendship introduced Chris to more of God's true nature. While Chris had been born again and baptized in the Holy Spirit before coming in contact with Andrew's teaching, it was Andrew's message on the Baptism of the Holy Spirit that helped him understand what God was doing in, and through him.

With his new revelation, he realized that the desire for something more that had risen in his heart was from God. Chris praying with two boys in a park in Simla, Colorado. (Click to enlarge)He spent significant time praying his prayer, "...if there's more...I want more..." and things began to change. "Things started shifting, and doors that were open, started closing. It was a beautiful thing. I got laid off and pulled out of the ministry I was involved in. I never questioned what the Lord was doing—I knew in my spirit greater things were coming," recalled Chris.

Chris' mentor mentioned CBC, and suggested Chris check out the school's website. The first time he visited the site, he sensed the Lord leading him to attend. Every time he went to the site, the Holy Spirit seemed to flood his body, and he began to consider moving to Colorado. While still contemplating Chris and a friend ministering to a young man in downtown Colorado Springs. (Click to enlarge)the move, Chris and some friends attended Andrew's 2010 Gospel Truth Seminar in Atlanta. At the GTS, one of Chris' friends paid for his registration to attend CBC.

Two years at Charis further solidified Chris' relationship with the Lord and fueled his growing passion for street ministry. "The Word that was planted during my first year amplified the way I was able to communicate with people," said Chris. The Lord used Isaiah 61:1 to quicken Chris' spirit and call him into ministry. "This verse has come alive in me and given me a heart for people. I was a drug addict for ten years, Visible joy. Chris had just finished ministering to the young man in the Heat jersey. (See photo above).
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and I have been released. Now I can release others through lots of love. I get to demonstrate God's love to the world, just like Jesus," he said excitedly.

Since his graduation from CBC, Chris has taken his revelation of God's unconditional love for him, and has begun to minister to any and all who will listen. For the past several years Chris has been ministering late at night, on the weekends, in downtown Colorado Springs. Though he said he usually has a handful of Charis students with him when he heads out at 12:30 am, he will also hit the streets by himself if the Lord leads him to do so. Whether he goes with a team or without, Chris Chris also serves as the Small Group and Outreach Pastor at Pulse. This photo was taken at a Pulse Children's Festival, held in the fall of 2012.
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normally ministers for several hours before calling it a night—or morning. Chris said he and his teams are usually well received by the late-night crowd, and that they see many hearts and bodies healed through their ministry. As he meets people on the street, he is aware that they are not encountering Chris' own intellect, knowledge or opinion, but rather Christ operating in and through him. "They are encountering Jesus, face-to-face, and that's what captures the human heart—it is the love of God that leads them to repentance and relationship."

Chris has also hooked up with a growing body of believers in Colorado Springs called, Pulse, a ministry founded by fellow CBC graduate Justin Knapp. Today, Chris serves as the Chris performing a wedding ceremony. (Click to enlarge)Small Groups and Outreach Pastor for the predominantly twenty-something's gathering. His groups, shaped by his call to street ministry, are preparing to operate as evangelism outreach teams. Chris' vision includes multiple teams serving the community throughout the week, in addition to the late-night out reach currently happening on the weekends.

Chris said, "I used to make money for a living and do ministry on the side. Now my primary focus is meeting with people and sharing the love of Christ. I sow into people, people sow into me and God brings the increase. Thank you CBC for putting God first and for equipping the saints for the ministry the Father has for each of His children."

Monday
Nov192012

Charis Bible College's School of Media

AWM Media Operations Manager and Director of CBC-Colorado's School of Media, Stephen Bransford. He has been with AWM since 2000, and has been in media for 40 years. Stephen has worked with Jim Bakker, Oral Roberts, Billy Graham, Reinhard Bonnke, and many others. (Click to enlarge)Regular visitors to this site know that we frequently feature the news stories and testimonies of the evangelists, missionaries and pastors that Charis Bible College equips for the work of the ministry. Today's post however, is about the people serving behind the scenes, those who come along side the people on the platform to help deliver the message the Lord has entrusted to the messenger—the media ministers.

In today's tech-driven world, ministries are able to reach more people and advance the Kingdom faster through the effective use of media. Media simply refers to the means by which a message is shared. The ever-expanding list of tools used to spread a minister's message includes email, websites, blogging, social Assistant Directors of the School of Media, Jeff and Autumn Nakkula. According to Jeff, the goal at the school is to equip the students to help other ministries to produce better communications. "I love it when gifted ministers can focus on ministering, and someone can come along side them and help communicate their vision to supporters and partners," he said. (Click to enlarge)media and online video channels, as well as the traditional outlets of print, publishing, TV and radio broadcasting. Not everyone is called to be on the platform, some are called to support and spread the messages through these means. In an effort to equip those called to media as a ministry, a ministry of helps, staff members at AWM and CBC have developed a third-year program aptly called, the School of Media.

The program, directed by AWM's Media Operations Manager, Stephen Bransford, and facilitated by Assistant Directors, Jeff and Autumn Nakkula, has its roots in Stephen's willingness to yield to the Lord's leading to serve as Andrew's television producer 12 years ago. At the time, Stephen was producing a film for Billy Graham; a promotional piece called, Amsterdam 2000. Although he was being productive, it was a tumultuous time in Stephen's life and career. As he sought the Lord's direction in prayer, Stephen submissively Original opening graphics from the early days of Andrew's Gospel Truth program. (Click to enlarge)asked for guidance, and promptly found God's reply buried in his email inbox.

"I had a conversation with God in which I resigned every project I had in motion. I just laid it all down and asked, 'Where would you like me to serve you, Lord?' Andrew’s search for a TV producer had already been sent to me via email, and I had ignored it. I hadn’t taken it seriously. One day, as I was working on the Billy Graham film, I saw the email at the bottom of my inbox. I stopped and asked God, “Am I missing something? Are you trying to give me an answer here?” recalled Stephen.

Critique time! During this class, the students newsletter projects are evaluated for the effectiveness of the design and communication of content.
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Stephen immediately made arrangements to meet with Andrew. The next day, as Stephen entered the ministry's building, then located on Robinson Street in Colorado Springs, he knew he was where God wanted him. Stephen said, "I felt the peace that passes understanding. I saw the classroom with a 15 foot ceiling, where I would one day hang a lighting grid and build the first studio. I saw the office where I would edit the programs—all in the first twenty seconds after entering the building. I hadn’t even met Andrew yet. Everything I saw came true in a matter of months. God did answer my prayer in that email."

Stephen said, "Each student will emerge from Media School with hands-on experience in the basics of website creation, branding, fundraising writing for print and electronic publication, newsletter writing, video production, and some use of social media. They will be trained in the use of a Macbook Pro and Adobe software to accomplish these goals."
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The meeting, in Stephen's words, "Turned out to be a divine appointment." The two spent about an hour together, and Stephen left with a sampling of Andrew's books and teachings. After reviewing the materials, Stephen not only had a good feel for Andrew's ministry, but he had begun a new chapter with the Lord. "Andrew’s teaching on Whose Righteousness really helped me. I was very much a performance driven Christian, and Andrew helped me begin to enjoy my inheritance in Jesus Christ," said Stephen.

"Media communicates a message, and the message we want to send is the Gospel and the good reports from the people who preach the Gospel. We are helping the Gospel be preached through video, print and the Internet, and we are helping the ministers who preach it by fundraising for them," said Autumn.(Click to enlarge)Through the creation of the Gospel Truth TV program and his vision for creating series like Healing Journeys, Stephen's expertise in media communications helped to propel Andrew's ministry around the world. Today the Gospel Truth is available to more than two-billion viewers per day.

Over the years, Stephen's role has broadened to include oversight of all of Andrew's media, and he was also given the opportunity to teach a class at the Bible college. Stephen's days as an instructor began when a student asked him for assistance with a fundraising DVD he had made to raise support for a mission trip. Stephen was able to help him, and A logo design created by current Media School student, Sandra Duarte.
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in the process, realized he had a wealth of experience to share with any student who needed similar help. A short time later, Andrew asked if Stephen would teach an elective on the power of media, and that was the beginning of Stephen's course Ministry, Media and Money.

Two years ago, Stephen was given the opportunity to speak during a student chapel hour. He shared a message called, You’ve Got a Story. Stephen said, "I like to say that everyone has a story. It is the story of Christ in you, and who you are in Christ—a never-ending story with unlimited potential to change lives." Stephen saw something powerful happen as a result of his chapel teaching. The following term, more than 80 students signed up for his elective class. "Suddenly, This is a screen shot of a video production created by Media School graduate, Michael O'Malley. "No one will graduate with equal skills in all areas of communications. We want them to go with the strengths they discover during the year and let others fill out the team where they are weak. Nothing will prevent them from being useful in media ministry immediately upon graduation," Stephen said. (Click to enlarge)students began to believe that media was ministry, as much as any of the five-fold ministries. Andrew then asked that we take that momentum to start a third-year media school," said Stephen.

According to Stephen, the goal of CBC's School of Media is to identify and develop those called to the ministry of media and to see them bless and prosper those ministers they come along side. "Everyone born of God has a ministry, but ministry communicated badly results in discouragement, setbacks and burn out. Most people need help in order to tell their story effectively. Media ministers are those with the training and talent to help someone communicate their ministry effectively. Not everyone is gifted equally in this regard. It is important to focus on the gifts you’ve been given and develop them to excellence," said Stephen.

If you have a passion for media and feel called to share the Gospel through media ministry, or would like more information about Charis Bible College's School of Media, be sure to visit CBC's website to find out how you can become part of this growing segment of ministry.

Thursday
Nov152012

Matthew Reed: Walking Into His Destiny

Colorado native and Charis Bible College graduate, Matthew Reed, during a recent ministry trip to London. (Click to enlarge)A string of poor decisions can quickly lead a person down a path of destruction; that is what happened to Matthew Reed. At the age of sixteen, he was in a rollover car accident in which he suffered a severe injury to his ankle. During his recovery he became depressed and began using drugs. This choice to use, eventually led to full-blown drug and alcohol abuse, followed by visits to rehab centers and back to using again. Right in the middle of what seemed like an endless cycle, a pastor in Kansas invited Matthew to a Charis Bible College Men's Advance in Colorado Springs. Matthew attended the event and since then, has never been the same.

Matthew speaking at Pastor B's (Bill Ummel) church, Praise Fellowship in Ransom, Kansas in May of 2012. Pastor B (red circle) introduced Matthew to Andrew's teaching by taking him to a CBC Men's Advance in 2009. (Click to enlarge)At the age of 19, Matthew's parents caught him with drugs. He had flunked out of college and was sitting in his bedroom when his mother and father found him. It was in that moment that he realized he had a problem, and his parents made arrangements to have him admitted to a rehab center near their home in Colorado.

One may assume that an extended stay in rehab will straighten a person out, but this was not the case for Matthew. The stresses in his life and residual pain from the car wreck perpetuated his need to get high. Failed physical rehabilitation from his injuries led to severe back problems and more physical pain, culminating in more depression. His repeated choices to turn to drugs and alcohol, even after getting sober, put him in situations that led him to make other poor decisions. During this spin cycle of indiscretion, Matthew hooked up with the wrong kind of friends, became a father, and spent nearly a year in jail for assault and battery. "I went through cycles of being sober and dealing with pain, and after six months or so, I would start drinking, which lead to drugs, which eventually lead back to rehabs and sober living homes," said Matthew.

Matthew and his wonderful daughter, Autumn. (Click to enlarge)While in a rehab facility in 2004, Matthew had an encounter with God. He received Jesus as his Savior, and he felt the tangible love of God for two week's time. Matthew began to think about going back to school, but he couldn't see a way to pay for tuition, and he still had his back issue which prevented him from sitting for long periods of time. Eventually, the desire subsided and Matthew slipped back to old ways of thinking. He chose to turn away from God.

Because of his constant back pain and his drug addiction, Matthew was unable to work, and he became increasingly desperate. In 2008, Matthew was in need of help again and he chose to return, for the third time, to a ministry-based rehab in Arkansas. While driving through Kansas, on his way to the facility, he was arrested for drug possession. Matthew standing in Budapest with the first man (center) he ever led to the Lord. (Click to enlarge)Matthew was booked, spent three weeks in jail, and was also sentenced to one year probation.

In early 2009, Matthew's probation officer introduced him to Bill Ummel, a local pastor in Kansas. Nine days after meeting "Pastor B," as Matthew refers to him, Bill brought him to the Men's Advance that changed his life. "Ever since the arrest, I had white-knuckled sobriety because of my probation, but it was Pastor B and his church that loved on me, and turned me back on to God—I haven't used since," said Matthew.

At the conclusion of Matthew's probation, he returned to Denver, Colorado. There he maintained contact with Bill and his church family back in Kansas. "I still talked to Pastor B weekly, and he Street ministry with European Initiative in Berlin. (Click to enlarge)said that if I would go to CBC-Colorado, his small church of 20 people would pay my tuition. They just finished paying for my three years," Matthew said with a grateful heart.

His time at Charis was productive, and as a result of studying God's unconditional love and grace, Matthew has seen great recovery in his own life and in countless lives around him. While his back issues are almost completely healed, his time in school provided even more recovery. Matthew said, "CBC was such a healing journey for my faith and my mind. I had become so retarded that at one point, I couldn't speak or look at people. CBC has given me a future and hope. I'm free in ways like never before."Matthew stands with the Olympic torch from the 2012 London games. (Click to enlarge)

It was during his two CBC mission trips to Germany that Matthew realized his passion for street ministry. "My second trip to Berlin with CBC was truly amazing. This trip is where I truly saw the fruit and value of sharing Christ on the street," said Matthew. He went on to say that it was through these trips that he became comfortable and confident walking in his identity in Christ and letting Jesus work through him.

His trips to Germany also connected him with a ministry called European Initiative (EI). During the summer of 2012, Matthew returned to Germany to serve as an intern with EI, and he traveled with the organization to minister in Budapest and London. While he saw great things in London during the Olympics, it was in Budapest that he had a personal breakthrough. "Budapest is the first time I ever lead anyone to the Lord—it happened three times that trip," he said with excitement.

Matthew and Thor (right) ministered healing to this man's ankles, and prayed for him to get off the streets.
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Now, at 32, Matthew's passion for street ministry has grown, and these days he is ministering in a variety of capacities in the Denver area. One venue he and several friends frequent is the 16th Street Mall in the city's downtown. On one occasion he saw a woman sitting curbside on a horse-drawn cab, waiting for a fare. As the woman let Matthew pet her horse, the Lord gave him a word of knowledge about a problem with the woman's wrist. As their conversation continued she shared that she also suffered from upper and lower back pain. After he ministered to her she was completely healed and humbled by the love of God.

Matthew has become comfortable with street ministry and in his words, "Manifesting Christ in all situations." (Click to anlarge)"We hold up signs that read 'Free Prayer,' and we minister, pray and love on people. We've been laughed at and mocked, but I've personally seen many healings and salvations," Matthew said.

Matthew recalled that his first year at CBC was difficult, but his perseverance paid off. "I couldn't physically pay attention during night school, but God got me through and bombarded me with the Word every night. CBC saved my life and was such a healing atmosphere for me. I came to school a broken mess and in complete bondage, and I left three years later walking into the destiny God has designed for me."