In 2010, we posted the story of how the Lord brought CBC graduates, Grady and Yvonne O'Brien together and how they successfully launched a Charis Bible College extension school in Northern Ireland. Since that time, the O'Briens have raised up a new leader for the school in the United Kingdom and followed the Lord's leading to establish a second school, this time in the United States—southern Florida to be exact.
After spending six years pioneering and establishing the CBC campus on the eastern side of Belfast, the O'Briens and their children knew their time on the emerald isle was drawing to a close. This was evidenced by the fact that they all had a growing desire to return to the U.S. As their time in Northern Ireland came to an end, Grady and Yvonne began the transitioning leadership to CBC-Belfast graduate, Allan Bruce, and the school continues on in his capable hands.
When the transition in Belfast was complete, the O'Brien's headed west. Although uncertain of their final destination in the U.S., their eldest son, Liam, had already moved to the States to attend CBC-Colorado, so the family chose to join him in Colorado Springs. Grady and Yvonne were happy to reconnect with their son, old friends and their ministry family at CBC and AWM.
The O'Briens spent their first year back in America working with friend and mentor, Wendell Parr, the Director of AWM's World Outreach. They assisted his staff, interviewing potential directors for future CBC extension schools, knowing in their hearts the position was temporary. During their time with Wendell and AWM, they remained open to the Lord, patiently waiting for His leading. Yvonne said, "There were several ministry opportunities offered to us, and as good as they all sounded, we just did not have peace about them (Colossians 3:15).
The O'Briens did some traveling and visited with their good friends and fellow CBC graduates, Tom and Cindy Boyd, the Directors of CBC in Atlanta, and Danon and Amanda Winter, the Directors of CBC-Florida, both of whom encouraged them to take their time before making a decision regarding their family's next step in ministry.
With their east coast trip behind them, the O'Briens were at a loss. For the first time, the family lacked unity in their desired direction. "We came to a place where we knew what we did not want to do but had no idea what we did want to do. Our children wanted to stay in the U.S., they were enjoying being home, and Grady and I had desires to check out South and Central America. It just looked like we all wanted to go in different directions. This was a first for us as a family," Yvonne commented candidly.
One common thread in the family's next destination debate was that they had all thoroughly enjoyed their previous visit to Florida. The family decided to seek the Lord with focused attention on the Sunshine State. As the Lord would have it... the O'Briens were promptly offered a place to stay in Jacksonville.
As much as the O'Briens enjoyed their time visiting the northern part of the state, and the time they were given to minister at the CBC campus in Jacksonville, there was a stirring in their hearts to go further south. Although both Grady and Yvonne shared the same desire to investigate the southern part of the state, neither had mentioned it to the other. Finally, the two discussed the idea and were in agreement that they should check it out. Just after agreeing to head south, the O'Briens received a phone call asking if they would be interested in directing a new CBC campus in the Miami area.
"We both laughed," said Yvonne with a chuckle, "It seems that our desires are His desires also. So here's the fun part... We live in the USA, and we are ministering to people from all over the world (as South Florida is such a melting pot of so many nations). We got the desires of our heart, and so did our children. Only God could do that!"
In April, Andrew hosted a well attended, one night Gospel Truth Rally in the Miami area, and the announcement of the O'Briens plans for a new campus received a great response. Grady and Yvonne made the necessary preparations to start the school, and in September the new campus opened its doors in Pompano Beach, the northern edge of the Miami Metropolitan Area.
The O'Briens journey between Northern Ireland and southern Florida was one of prayer and patience, and they are thankful for the support and encouragement they received from their CBC and AWM family. Now settled in their new surroundings, the couple has high hopes for their ministry to the people of the Miami area. They can't wait to reveal to each student, their true identity in Christ and who He is in each one of them.