You can’t quite put your finger on it, but you can’t help but notice. It’s sewn into every fiber of his being, and he’s seven so he doesn’t understand it like you do. You sum it up by saying, “God’s got His hand on that little boy’s life.” As the year go on, you watch him grow into who God has called him to be and you say to yourself, “I knew it.” This boy was Raynard Brant and although I did not know him during his formative years, this is the story I hear from everyone who did. And to know him as a man of God, today, I know it to be true.
Born to a father who was an alcoholic and a mother who Raynard described as abandoning him and his brothers, he was “a statistic waiting to happen.” During his early years of life, Raynard lived in a pretty volatile environment. When his mother was around, she and his father would get into it, and if it was just his father around, he would find himself treading lightly due to his father’s alcoholism. With such a rough start in life, this instability could have led to Raynard ending up on drugs or dropping out of school or a number of other things, but God had other plans.
Raynard would end up being raised by his aunts on both sides of his family. And despite the odds, he was a typical church kid. He spent a great deal of time at church and when he wasn’t there, he was trying to convince his brothers and cousins to play church with him at home. Raynard always felt different from other kids his age. He was never really into sports, wasn’t the best student, and although he knew a lot of people, he wasn’t exactly the “cool” guy on campus either. But church was different. He was in his element when he was there. From an early age, Raynard took God very serious. While in second grade, he once told his classmate that her grandfather, who had just passed away, was in hell because he didn’t have the Holy Ghost (he got a phone call home that day lol). Raynard knew God was everywhere and that God saw everything, but soon he would find out what it was like for God to live in him.
As all church kids do, you grow up shouting because it’s fun, but one day it was no longer just fun for Raynard. He was eight years old at the time, and had been attending a Baptist church and a Holiness church (having been raised by both sides of his family). While attending the Baptist church, the appeal was made for individuals to come and give their heart to God. Raynard wanted to but was told he was too young. The following Sunday, he went to the Holiness church, and the altar call was made and Raynard asked could he go and after being told yes, he called on Jesus and received the Holy Ghost.
Life with the Holy Ghost was pretty good until age fourteen. This may not be a big deal for some people, but at fourteen years old Raynard found himself drifting away from God. He started listening to secular music and his relationship with God did not feel as familiar as it once did. Around this time, his uncle and cousin had gotten saved, and Raynard knew he didn’t want to go to hell and didn’t feel he was on the path to heaven. One Sunday morning, Raynard made up in his mind, he wasn’t coming back home the same way he went to church. It was a regular Sunday at his local church and he could barely pay attention to the preacher because he couldn’t wait to get to the altar. He spent almost the entire service on the edge of his seat, waiting for someone to say, “if anyone has believed the report of the Lord, we ask that you come.” Before the preacher made her way to her seat, Raynard was at the altar with tears streaming down his face, crying out to God, telling Him how sorry he was. Since that day, Raynard has never looked back.
I asked Raynard about the impact that day had on his life:
How has life changed since being saved?
To say my life changed when I got saved is the understatement of the century. I began to live when I got saved. I needed stability and being saved provided that. It made it okay for me to be different from the other kids. I didn’t feel the need to fit in with everyone else. I was in Christ and that’s all I needed to be. In the absence of my father, God became my father and taught me how to be a man. I needed to be reassured that no matter how bad things got and no matter what I did, I would not be abandoned. And God has been there every step of the way. I have learned to forgive my mother who to me, had left me out there to figure out life for myself. I forgave her. Being saved has literally saved my life. I found purpose, direction and hope.
Is being saved difficult?
I wish I was so spiritual that I could say that being saved is not difficult. But the absolute truth is at times my walk with Christ has been a struggle. I struggled with reconciling the truth of God’s word with the social expectations of the world around me. But, I’ve come to understand down through the years that the struggles that I experienced during this Christian walk was not with God but rather with MYSELF. Now that I know that, “Everyday with Jesus gets sweeter as the day goes by.”
What do you do for a living?
I am employed as an admissions coordinator at a residential chemical dependency treatment center.
What do you do for fun?
Long story short, I LOVE to eat good food. I am not a very good cook but I like to cook. The only thing I love more than going to eat somewhere I’ve never been is doing it with my family. Family comes second to none in my life.
Something unique about yourself
I can read my brother’s mind. Since we are twins, we can basically communicate without speaking.
If you know me well, you probably have heard me mention him. You probably thought I was his shadow at one point, because everywhere he was, I was. Almost every year since I’ve known Raynard (oh goodness, it’s been over seven years), I’ve gotten him a Father’s Day card. Even before my natural father passed away, Raynard has always showed me that no matter how irritated I get with him (or he gets with me) or how rude I am (he calls it rude, I call it direct lol), he wants me to be the best me and will do and say anything to make that happen. I’ve never met someone with such a heart for God and His people. Although he is a pastor, this is bigger than that for him. He truly lives his life trying to help everyone get into heaven. I’m so honored to call him a friend. And he’s going to kill me for saying this, but ladies, he’s single 🙂 (and guys if you’re interested in me, be prepared to go through a screening process with him lol)
Raynard’s Instagram: @pastorraynard