My mission is to be an undeniable witness that God is everything that He said.
I preach because I was there…
…I was there sitting on the steps of our house with all our clothes lying in the yard with no where to go and I watched God build a home. I was there when we had no gas in the tank and I watched the needle move after we prayed. I was there in the hospital listening to doctors say I would always be sickly for the rest of my life and I experienced God heal my body. I was there when I an accident tore my car in half, yet He kept us safe. I was there when the wheels fell off in my life because of my poor choices and I watched God rebuild it because of His grace. I was there when my marriage was about to end and God restored it. I was there when my little girl had not moved for 3 days inside the womb and God brought her back to life. I was there when the lawyers told us it was impossible to come back to America and God opened the door. I preach so that others can experience the same Jesus that saved my life!
The Story of Brent Philips (so far)
I was born in Johannesburg, South Africa in 1978 and I enjoyed and an “amazing childhood. I wouldn’t change a single thing about my life, because God has used every event to shape me into who I am today. At the age of 2 years old, my father decided it would be better if my mom, brother and I lived somewhere else. My prayer in that moment was that our dog would be kicked out as well, and sure enough, he was. My first answer to prayer 🙂
For the next several years, we moved around a lot, and despite the circumstances, we felt like we were the luckiest kids on earth; we knew no different. There wasn’t a single day that went by that we didn’t see God intervene in one way or another, whether it was by providing specials on the food we needed, stretching our gas, or providing us with a roof over our heads. Our circumstances in the natural weren’t good at all, but we laughed and loved more in our broken home than families who seemed to have it all together.
At the age of 5, I developed acute asthma. My asthma was so severe that walking became a challenge. Trips to the emergency room became like trips to the mall. After several years of struggling with this disease, and missing months of schools, my mom came across this verse: Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)-”But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.”
From that moment, my mom and grandma began to trust God for that verse to come to pass for me. The doctors by this stage had confirmed that I would need to be on medication for the rest of my life, and a slow-paced life would be on the books for me, but my mom and grandma believed that God’s word was greater than a doctor’s report or disease.
This would not be a prayer that was answered overnight, but God would answer it in the most amazing way. In primary school, I would try out for the track team every year, because I had been taught that Isaiah 40:31 was my verse and I would run. Every year, without fail, I would fail, and not be able to complete the distance needed to qualify to compete (400m). But God would begin to stun the doctors through my ability to swim. I couldn’t run, and couldn’t walk fast, but boy, could I swim! To everyone’s amazement, I would win race after race to the glory of God, but my verse was to run- swimming was just a bonus.
Years later, I graduated to high school, and within a few months of starting high school, the athletics tryouts began. I could enter whichever race I wanted, from 100m to 1500m, but the 1500m sounded most like Isa 40:31 🙂 I entered the 1500m and my brother Clint ran in his school uniform on the outside of the track to encourage me to keep going and to keep my pace. Through the amazing power of God, I finished my first athletics race! When I finished the race, in awe of God’s grace and love from my brother, I was informed that I had broken the school record for the 1500m, a record that stood for 20 years! Isa 40:31 was mine. My family continued to live a life where miracles were expected and seen.
Having grown up in the church, I wanted to get involved. My friend and I studied to be counselors, because that seemed “cool”. The day we completed our counseling course, the children’s church pastor, said we needed to be in children’s ministry. I laughed because that was what my mom had done for 20 years and I needed to do something a little more attractive. When I saw that the pastor wasn’t really asking a question, we decided to give a try.
In the next 5 years, I would learn more about my gifting, communication, and transformation by serving kids, than in the 18 years before. I learned lessons that would be the foundation for the rest of my life. We saw hundreds of street kids be transformed right before our eyes as we would minister God’s word week after week. It was the first time I realized I had a sense of humor and that I could speak.
By this stage, God had blessed me in South Africa, in teaching, in business and with an amazing girlfriend. My brother had been living in Aspen for a year, and I went to see what it was all about. All I knew about Aspen, was from the movie Dumb & Dumber, but God once again had great plans for us. With no intention of beginning a ministry, I went to Aspen to have some fun with my brother. While I was there, God opened the door for me to acquire a work visa, and I had my first job in Aspen. I was installing wireless internet which was a far cry from my degree in software engineering, but I was happy to be doing something!
Life was good, but God was speaking to me. My thought was simply this: start a ministry for the younger generation in Aspen. I wanted to be a mighty entrepreneur, but I didn’t want to be a pastor. I knew what I had heard though, and by this stage I had learned to listen when God spoke. In Aspen, the company that had provided my income had gone bankrupt and God began a journey to mature me. God will never take you where your character can’t keep you. I began to serve at a church in Aspen that only had seven members. I thought it would be a good place to start because I would be serving in a church that needed me most. It was here that I would learn valuable and painful lessons. Whether it was vacuuming, setting up the stage, taking the offering, or improving their technology, it was an honor to be part of impacting lives.
Eventually, my brother, a deacon and myself put a Sunday evening service together. We packed chairs, cleaned, led worship and preached. We were a “one-stop-shop” and we were excited to see what God could do. The service started to grow after a few months, and eventually we had 35 people. We were so excited to see growth and impact, but what we didn’t realize was that the pastor grew jealous that those people would not come to the service he taught in the mornings. He went on to tell us that God had told him we were trying to take over the church. We were speechless at his accusation. We left the meeting not knowing what to do with ourselves. We had been kicked out of the church! My whole reason for staying in Aspen was to minister, to preach, and now I have been kicked out of the church. What came next was the lowest spiritual crash of my life.
One day my mom found me staring out the window feeling lost and rejected. She said the words that would launch me into the next chapter of my life. “Son, what is in your hand?”, to which I replied, “Absolutely nothing”. She was referring to the encounter when God asks Moses the same question in Exodus 4:2. In that passage, God was showing Moses that He uses things that we count as insignificant to do something amazing. I had a degree in Software Engineering and a video camera “in my hand”. I launched PhillipsPower.com and began uploading messages that I recorded while sitting at the coffee table. I never knew if anyone would ever watch these videos, but it was in my hand, and so I decided to use it. On one of the days when I felt the most dejected, I recorded a video on salvation, where I lead the viewer in the scriptures and the steps to accept Jesus Christ.
One day, I awoke to an email in my inbox, from a ministry in India. The email read that they had found my website and wanted me to come preach in the south of India. I laughed at the gall of these spammers. “Who was I to go preach? I am an absolute nobody who doesn’t even have an audience”, I thought. But there was something about that email that I could not let go of in my mind. Eventually, my mom and I agreed to pursue it, and then came the email asking for money to rent venues, etc. There it was, the trick, the trap, the scam that I had been waiting for. I was so desperate to be used by God though, that after prayer, my mother and I agreed to send the money. I had to borrow the money because I was still unemployed at this stage, despite numerous efforts.
We arrived in India, in a little village airport, nervous that it was a scam. We looked around for a sign with our names on it, but we saw nothing. We had been bamboozled and I was so disappointed. Although I expected as much, there was a part of me who was hoping it was real. I was desperate to be used by God. My mom decided that we had come too far to not have some fun, so we decided to catch a taxi somewhere. We climbed in the taxi and I explained our destination to the taxi driver. He nodded, confirming that our destination was at least real. Two hours later, we pulled into the town, and to our amazement, big posters hung on the walls of the town that said “Pastor Brent and Maureen Phillips from USA”.
It was real! It was actually exactly what they had said it to be! For the next week, we would minister all over the south of India, seeing God transform lives and save people. It was, to this day, one of the most life changing experiences for me. Three weeks later, a tsunami hit the south of India, killing thousands of people who we had preached to. As I heard the news, I began to cry thinking of all the faces who I had come to know in those regions. It was then that God showed me something amazing. God used a nobody to go to a place no one had heard of, to be a vessel of His grace and mercy. It was not a time of mourning but a time of rejoicing, because those who were lost, had been found!
When we returned to the United States, I began to attend a Baptist church in Aspen where I sensed something very special about the senior pastor, Steve Woodrow. He was a man who later set the benchmark for me of what it meant to be a man of God. I would later become an ordained Pastor under his leadership at Crossroads Church of Aspen (formally First Baptist Church of Aspen). This time period was one of the best chapters in my life and the girlfriend I left behind soon became my beautiful bride.
To this day I cannot put my finger on what happened or what caused it, but my wife and I began fighting about the smallest things. It came out of nowhere and it came fast. In pre-marriage counseling we had learned two laws: never talk about divorce and never sleep on the couch. I broke both those laws in one day. It seemed to be six months that I slept on the couch and we “hated” each other. We had been an amazing couple, but we were constantly fighting about nothing. I had the easiest going wife in the world, and suddenly I couldn’t stand to be around her.
Our last hope was having counseling with my mom, who was always positive about everything. We explained to her how we felt about each other and she listened silently. After allowing us to speak, she gave us her shocking conclusion: “You must do what you need to do.” Her response shocked me so much, that it sobered me up to the fact that my marriage was a few strands away from falling off the cliff. My wife and I went home, knelt next to the bed and set the record for the fastest marriage recovery in history. I prayed “Jesus help me!” and that was it. In an instant God saved our marriage and we have never been near to that place again. Because of God, I am the happiest married man alive, and I adore my wife even more today,
Around this time, we had decided to start having children. My wife soon became pregnant and the fear of whether I could be a better father than my own was overwhelmed by the excitement of God’s grace to be everything I needed to be. The pregnancy had gone perfect until the seven months mark. Our daughter, Jordan, had been extremely active in the womb for months, but one day my wife came home with a panicked look on her face. She said, “I haven’t felt Jordan move all day”. We asked around, and checked on Google, and found similar cases where this had happened. All the sources said there was nothing to worry about and that we should just lie down and relax for a few hours. After lying down for several hours, there was still no movement. We instantly knew we had a fight for her life on our hands. We began to pray, but NOT pray “If it is your will.” We knew God’s will..we began to pray “Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” We “reminded” God that He gave us this baby, and that He needed to revive this baby. It was not a prayer of arrogance- it was a prayer of desperation.
We asked the obstetrician a hypothetical question: “If there is a baby who didn’t move for three days, what would you think?” She told us, ‘“Without a doubt, the baby is dead.” But not our baby! Our little “Jordi Pie” didn’t die. On the 3rd day, she started to kick and never stopped kicking until she came out healthy and perfect:)
After many years of striving and struggling for breakthrough in ministry in Aspen, CO, things could not have been better. People were passionate about change and church, services were full, and God was moving. In the midst of all of this, we had planned a church-wide mission trip to South Africa and everything was going according to plan… until we received news that our new US Visas were declined. We had a choice to make: Skip the mission trip and try rectify the situation, or sacrifice “everything” we had worked so hard for, sell everything and move back to South Africa. Knowing the impact this trip would have on countless lives, we decided to sell everything and moved back to South Africa.
The mission trip was a success in every sense of the word. Lives were forever challenged and changed, but now what? We moved around from house to house, with our two year old girl, Jordan, and a newborn baby boy, Joshua. All the success of ministry in Aspen became a distant memory as our resources disappeared. quickly. It was the first time in my life that I did not have my mother and brother around for support, and stress and depression started to set in. To add gasoline to the fire, we were running out of money.
After not being able to find work in any capacity, the inevitable happened and I had a face a fear that I never thought I would have to: not being able to provide for my family. Once again, my wife and I were down on our knees asking God to rescue us. On the same day when I had no idea how I was going to put food on the table, I received a call from my brother Clint. Not knowing our plight, he told me that he was able to raise money for his new business. He wired money to my account because he wanted me to start developing software for him. Later that week, we received news that we could never come back to the US because I had used up all my visas. It felt like a death blow. We began to wonder if we would ever see our family again and everything we had known for the past nine years. We got back on our knees, but this time, we weren’t begging God for our plans to succeed. We submitted our lives to Him.
During this time, my mom was in Houston and talking to someone about our dilemma and they recommended a lawyer for her to see in Houston. By that time, we had dealt with countless lawyers who told us there was no solution. But God! On this particular day, God opened a door that didn’t seem to exist. While talking to the lawyer, it came up that my wife is a German citizen and God used this to bring us both back to the US. Because of what we had gone through we were coming back different people with different hearts and different minds. Broken and surrendered, God had now positioned us for His will and not ours.
My brother’s little girl suffered a stroke at an early age and his family went through an awful experience trying to figure out what had actually happened and what the next steps should be. It was from this experience that the online medical service, 2nd.MD, was born. It was (and still is) a revolutionary way for anyone with medical questions, conditions, medications or mysteries to speak directly to top specialists. My brother’s family didn’t want what he and his family went through to happen to anyone else. This was the business idea my brother had called about while we were in South Africa during our desperate season. I returned back to the world of software engineering and thought this was going to be the path for my life. I was an ordained pastor working as a software engineer, but I was so grateful to have a job and to be around my family again.
Pastoring became a distant memory and preaching even more so. Life seemed to be amazing. Everything was a reason for celebration. Even a street lamp was beautiful after not having power or water many times in South Africa. It is amazing how quickly “self” wants to pop back up when life stabilizes. We began looking for a church to attend in Houston, but we wanted to join a small church like our church in Aspen, because that’s where we felt most comfortable. Once again, God led and guided us so patiently and gently out of our comfort zones and into His plan.
After asking the church our family had joined for permission, I started a bible study on Tuesdays in the home of one of the members. It had eight hungry people who wanted to know as much as possible, who did not want to live mediocre Christian lives anymore, but wanted to experience God daily. The passion to share the gospel that had taken me to Aspen nearly a decade before began to rise in me once again. I was starting to find my way home. God began restoring everything we lost in Aspen and in a short period he had filled our lives with incredible friends and support. But, I was still restless.
The Bible study grew almost every week, and after only five months we had grown to over 100 people. It was insane. We were packing out houses! People were everywhere. It did not matter to them where they sat. They were hungry to hear God’s Word. At its largest, the Bible study had over 1,100 people attending with over 8 different denominations represented in the same room, many of whom surrendered their lives to God. We were only at the beginning of what God could to do, but we believed if singers and rappers could fill stadiums, we could overfill stadiums with people who were desperate to hear truth. For possibly the first time in my life, I had no preconceived ideas on what and how God should use me. I just wanted to be used by God to see people come to know Jesus in the way He wanted to do it