My story is a simple one. I was born at a very young age. It was into a Christian home in the State of Florida while my parents were raising support to become missionaries. My parents were both born and raised in the US and both made the choice to become missionaries around my current age of sixteen. They followed through with their decision, and around the age of two I moved to South Africa. South Africa is what I would consider home, and I can remember nothing before my life here. I spent the earliest years of my life in the city of Johannesburg, and I came to enjoy my life there. When I was just four years old, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and began to grow spiritually. I cannot stress to you just how drastically my life has been changed because of this decision.
I started attending junior youth and as soon as I was too old for junior youth, I started helping as a leader. I learnt to share the gospel with my friends and those I had just met. Growing in and learning about my faith was easier as a missionary kid, but that does not mean I never struggled. I did not fit in well when I was young, and I struggled to find close friends. When I did find good friends, they were other missionary kids who moved away before too long. This pained me, but, at the same time, God used it to teach me independence and how to trust Him as my sole provider. I learnt a lot through the book of Job; and, sometimes, when I was feeling down or lonely, I would read it. The book taught me a lot about pain and how to deal with it. Spiritually, I grew. Slowly, but nevertheless, I grew. I finally found more close friends who challenged me in my walk with Christ, but even these friendships were not meant to last, as this time my family was the missionary family that moved away when we realized that God was calling us to Durban 3 years ago.
The move challenged me. I was pushed drastically out of my comfort zone. God used that time in my life to teach me so many things. When I first moved, I was very distant from friends and for about a year. I had very little social interaction outside of church. I was very lonely. God used this to make me very independent. I stopped caring about what people thought about me, because I had no friends close enough for me to need to care. This caused me to base my self-esteem in who I am in God, and now that I have new close friends, I am confident and bold enough to share with them what God has done for me. I know what it is like to be the guy with no real friends, and I know now that it is not really that bad. God proved to be the one thing in my life that mattered, the one true constant. Once I realized that, my life opened up to so many of the things God wanted to do in my life. God now uses me to do many things in my church and in the churches that my father works in. I work in the Sunday School and youth program at my church, along with being involved in ministries in other churches that I do not call my own.
This is my story. However none of this matters if you, the reader, don’t do anything with it. I want you to know that, regardless of what hard time you’re going through, God, nevertheless, loves you and leaves the choice for joy in your hands. Notice, however, that I said choice. You will go through times in your life where you will be sad and that is ok, but God will always be there loving you and supporting you. I am in a good place now. I realize that you may not be, and I realize that my good times will not last forever. But, I know that even though the things I go through may be hard, they will all work out in the end; and even if they do not, I know my place in eternity. Obviously, I have so much more I need to learn, but I look forward to learning it with my God by my side.
~ Brandon Hawkins