To View the Video on YouTube: https://youtu.be/lBJKfvWEyRA
This week on the Hope Rescue Podcast we have the honor of welcoming a guest speaker, Brian Carlton. Brian is the worship pastor at Imperial Beach Church which is a part of the EastLake Church network. He also helps lead the prison ministry at the church and has led Celebrate Recovery groups in the past. Keep reading to hear more of his story.
Brian grew up in an Independent Baptist church, and worship music and his faith have been a part of his story from the beginning. He explains that at age seven, he gave his life to the Lord in Sunday school class and was baptized, but he didn’t actually experience any life changes. He learned how to walk-the-walk of a Christian, and was able to live a double life, fooling his family and friends for years. In eighth grade, Brain’s parents switched him from a private Christian school to a public school for financial reasons, and his walk with the Lord took a nosedive. He became involved in drinking alcohol and even was in a gang. Two of his friends were shot and killed, and these events acted as a wake up call for Brain. He decided he wanted a different life for himself and wasn’t willing to die proving himself to be tough, so he joined show choir. He always loved to sing and dance, and felt like God had opened the door for him just at the right time.
From early childhood through his teenage years, Brain was sexually abused by an older cousin. When he decided to tell his parents about what was going on behind closed doors, they swept it under the rug and didn't do anything about it. This was a traumatic experience for a young boy who felt like he had nowhere to turn. For years to come, Brian lived with the shame, loss, betrayal, and anger that stemmed from this unfortunate event.
At 19 years old, Brian's former youth pastor reached out and asked if he would be interested in helping lead at youth camp. Brian agreed, and while listening to one of the speakers talk to the youth students one night, Brain became overwhelmed with emotion. He left the room and walked out into the woods to be alone with his thoughts. He remembers crying out to God, asking God to fix him. At the time, he felt so much hate in his heart for his cousin, betrayal from his family, and brokenness from so many years of confusion. In this moment, Brian realized he needed forgiveness, and from that forgiveness he would be able to forgive. From this point on, a radical transformation began to take place in his life. Brian explains that the radical transformation taking place was not overnight, but a process. He can now look back over 20 years later and see all the changes that have taken place in his life since that moment.
Now as a forty-five year old ambassador for Christ, Brian lives his life emulating Matthew 25:35-36 which says, "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.” Brian tries to walk in obedience to the Gospel in all that he does. Through EastLake Church, Brain helps lead the prison ministry where he and other volunteers spend time and build relationships with local prisoners. Brian says, “God has already provided the resources to do what He's calling us into; we just have to be obedient to His voice.”
EastLake Church recognized that it was the duty of the Church to go to the least of society and bring the Good News, so they planted a church inside a local state prison. Along with planting a church inside the prison, EastLake was able to set up a worship concert in the yard of the prison, which allowed them to connect with and serve the prisoners in an intimate way.
At the end of the podcast, Brian emphasizes that he has learned through prison ministry that God pursues broken and messed up people. No matter what a person has done or is personally struggling with, God is full of mercy and grace.
Join us next Monday for a new episode of the Hope Rescue Podcast.
“God has already provided the resources to do what He's calling us into; we just have to be obedient to His voice.” -Brian
Matthew 25:35-36 "For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.”