In 2009 I joined a Jr. High ministry team at Cornerstone SCV that was made up of people who would truly change my life. We helped start a new Jr. High ministry at our church and through that we became friends, confidants, and really a family. I am grateful to say that I am still close friends with several of those team members to this day and if the Lord wills we will remain good friends for years to come. Our time in ministry together was a special and cherished time and one of the most blessed times I’ve experienced serving in ministry thus far.
Today I remember one of my dear brothers from that team. His name was Brandon Chandler. He was a kind, fun, and brave young man. But most importantly he was a godly man – he loved Jesus with all of his heart and he constantly challenged me to do the same. Today marks three years since he went home to be with the Lord and I’ll admit that selfishly there are moments when I wish he were still here.
His story is one of incredible faith, unbelievable challenges and deeply rooted JOY. The brief version is that he had three encounters with cancer throughout his 28 years on this earth and the Lord used Chandler to show what He can do with a man who would choose joy over any physical pain and emotional challenges that come with having a terminal disease – THREE TIMES! You can learn more about his story by watching the preview to a documentary called “Three to Six Months.”
Today I wanted to take time to reflect on the amazing person and wonderful friend that Chandler was. I still can’t believe how blessed I am to have been given the opportunity to serve in ministry with him, to spend Sunday afternoon lunches with him, to laugh for hours at games nights and to just call him friend. He was there to answer calls when I needed to talk about guy troubles, he was there to encourage me when I was down or anxious about things in life and he was there to cheer me on in the Lord when things were going well.
I wish I could begin to express in words the kind of person he was, but my words and descriptions would never do him justice because he was such a beautiful and unique soul. But here is the kind of man he was in his own words; when Chandler received the news about his third cancer diagnosis he text a group of us and said “The doctor found tumors. Yes tumors in my lung. I’m not sure what happens next, other than God’s in control and He ALWAYS has a plan. Just keep praying. I love you all.” Even when I would ask him how he was during those last months of his life, he would encourage me to focus on the Lord and not his burdens and he would share verses for me to meditate on.
Though I only knew him for a little over two years my life will never be the same. I’ll always miss his laugh, his infectious smile and his generous spirit. Not a Sunday goes by that I don’t miss Brandon Chandler hugs, not a Wednesday goes by that I don’t miss playing crab soccer with Chandler and our Jr. Highers and not a week goes by that I don’t think “I miss Chan.”
I surely won’t forget the display of the Lord’s strength that he showed during the last months of his life. He truly believed and lived out the concept of “choosing joy” and I pray that I would follow Chan’s lead and trust God with a limitless bravery that doesn’t hold this life in such high esteem that I wouldn’t be willing to lose it to gain everything in Christ.