She Has One In Mine, Too
The picture over there to the right was taken in June of 1994, at a FEMA trailer park outside Winfield, MO (Winfield had been part of the great Mississippi River flood; hence, the FEMA trailer park). The young lady is Brandi Boykin, one of the youth who taught the Backyard Bible Club I oversaw there, on a church mission trip. And she was every bit as much into her work there with the kids, as her expression suggests. She was also the focal point of two real interventions, by God, in my life, and I thought I'd write about them today.
Brandi died this past Saturday. More about that, a bit later.
Brandi went on several mission trips with FBC Pelham, in which I also participated. The first was a summer trip to Jamaica in 1992. There, I "superintended" a VBS at the Cypress Hall Baptist Church, sister church to the one at Red Hills. It's actually somewhat of a mission, as Calvin Matthews pastors both.
Brandi was one of the teachers in the VBS .. we had over 100 kids attend .. and she was bothered all week by a cracked toe. The last day there .. Friday .. the Cypress Hall folks threw us a little "party" to thank us for being there. They served snacks downstairs in the (extremely rustic) church, and sometime during the party, one of our kids stepped on Brandi's foot.
She yelled in pain. Now .. the year before, I'd had a girl who was too sick to go to VBS the second day, on my team, and several of us (who believe in healing) had gathered around her and prayed God would take away her nausea. When we finished praying and said "amen", she looked up and said .. and I AM quoting here .. "I just burped and I feel fine!" And, indeed, she was, clear through the time at VBS.
She remarked, later, that we'd just asked God to take away the nausea so she could teach, and that's exactly what He did. The nausea came back, after!
Well .. several of those kids were with me in Jamaica, so I asked them to gather around Brandi and we'd pray for her pain. They gathered, but in a moment I'll never forget, none of us could speak.
We stood silent for perhaps two minutes, which seemed like an eternity. Then I apologized for not having enough faith to pray. Brandi said "That's OK, brother Bob."
That evening, on the way to Red Hills for our final worship service before leaving the next morning, she hurt so bad that she threw up in the van. All over the front of her dress. When we got to the church, she said she couldn't go in, she was too messy, so she'd stay outside and make "Salvation Bracelets" for us to give out in the airport the next day. Then .. despite the fact that it was dark out, and despite the fact that the church is 43' above street level (thanks, Google Earth) .. kids started walking up the extremely steep driveway, noticing here there, and sitting down and asking what she was doing. She told them, and of course, explained what the beads meant.
When the invitation was given at the end of the service, Brandi came in with her dirty dress, and with the 22 kids who had prayed to be saved that evening, on the front porch.
That did two things for me. It left me speechless, and it also explained why we could not pray, over her, that afternoon. God did not want her healed that afternoon.
He had something far better in mind.
The other direct intervention of God happened in 1994, when we were in Winfield, MO, where the picture was taken. One day, on the way back to the church at noon, she sat on the floor of the van, head against the A/C vent. One of the other kids said she had a migraine.
When we got to the church, where they fed us, I asked the other kids to take all the stuff from the morning back into the church, so I wouldn't have to do it. They did, but Brandi got into the right seat and sat there, head bowed, feet dangling out the door. I walked around the front of the van to minister to her, and as I did, the chimes on the church started playing a hymn. I didn't recognize it at first, but I recognized the chorus .. "From sinking sands, He lifted me...". When the chorus played on, the chimes, I whispered the words in her ear. When it ended, I laid my left hand on her forehead and asked God, silently, to take away the pain. The chorus came around again, and I whispered the words one more time.
When I took my hand down, she looked up at me and said "the pain's gone".
A half hour later, I saw her playing UNO with some other of our youth. I said "How's your head?", to which she responded .. as if I hadn't been there .. "I told you .. the pain's GONE!". At that point, our leader Sam Neugent came up and asked what that was about, so I told him the story about the kids and the van and the stuff and the chimes and the hymn and the headache.
He said "WHAT chimes?"
Wow. This was in the fellowship hall, immediately under the sanctuary, immediately under the chimes. So we asked around, and nobody else heard the chimes!
We asked our hostess, a member of the church there. I told her this had happened at 12:37 .. I put my hand on Brandi's forehead, and I wear a digital watch, and I'd noted the time .. and the hostess said "Trust me, brother Bob, those chimes do not ring at 12:37".
They did, that day. Brandi and I both heard them, and we recalled that moment many times in the following years.
Last Saturday, her mom was bringing her from where Brandi lived, in Mississippi, to Birmingham for some treatments. Brandi'd fallen victim to several ailments in recent years. They stopped in Tuscaloosa, and Brandi was sleeping peacefully in the back seat. When she got home, to Pelham, Brandi was no longer breathing.
It's my hope that she died as peacefully as she slept. And, that she arrived in Heaven as enthusiastic and sweet as she was, in all my memory, while on earth.
The shirt says "You have a very special place in my heart .. Philippians 1:7".
I hope you have a terrific time in Heaven, Brandi. But you'll always have that special place in my heart.