My name is Brent Cantrell. I am married to the lovely Paris Cantrell, and most of my hobbies and interest involve doing something with her and my children. I have twins, a boy and a girl. For me to be standing before you today is nothing short of a miracle. Giving God all the glory and praise let me explain what I mean.
After my mother gave birth to my older brother she had decided to have her tubes tied. The surgery was a complete success, but that didn’t change the fact that two years later in the summer of 1986 my mom realized she was five months pregnant. I consider this to be an example of a sovereign God and his complete control over our lives.
Three years later, I was at the pool with my family. After seeing my older siblings continuously jump into the water and swim I couldn’t resist myself. So, when they came out and jumped back in, I joined them. To my misfortune no one saw me. The pool had just been opened so it was heavily clouded with chlorine. It was impossible to see the bottom of the three-foot section, let alone the eight-foot section where I lay at the bottom. I was under water for over five minutes. Everyone was looking in the woods, the house, and yard. Eventually they recovered my black veined, dark purple body from the pool and I lay on the concrete unconscious. After rushing me to the hospital the doctors told my parents I had suffered extreme brain damage and if I were to make it I would be mentally impaired with a strong possibility I would never walk again, and my speech would be affected but they were unsure of the extent. But when God is for you, who can be against you! One month later I walked out of the hospital holding my Dad’s hand. The only issues I have is a mild breathing disorder and am legally blind out of my left eye.
I just naturally assumed that I was a Christian but I had no fruits, convictions, or a relationship with Christ. I enjoyed playing football, but I had to quit because my lungs collapsed and made my breathing disorder worst. It was hard at the moment, but on July 21, 2004 I became a Christian and immediately felt the call to preach. I started preaching in prisons, local youth groups, and Christian concerts. I enrolled in Emmanuel College in Franklin Springs, GA in 2006. By the second semester of my freshman year I was chaplain over my dorm, served as president over ELI (Emmanuel Leadership Initiative Training student leaders to be more effective in their lives and ministry), a member of the student advisory committee, and helped form the lay out of weekly chapel services.
There was one problem. I had become very prideful and did not trust God at all. In fact I only read my Bible when I had to preach. I was undisciplined and had become lazy toward ministry. I had done all of this on my strength. In December 2007 I walked into the dean of Christian Ministries office and told him, “I couldn’t do it anymore, I was spent, and I was going home.” This statement was very true. I had enough energy to pack my bags and leave. Other students caught word and begged me to stay but I was done. I packed my bags and dropped out of Bible College two weeks before my semester was over.
2007 to 2010 was a very rough time for me, but looking back I see the benefit is had on my growth. I was negative, bitter, cynical, and extremely depressed toward everything. I hated church and didn’t even have a reason. I started dating my wife and my heavy spirit soon shaped the way she saw church as well. I was living in sin, and soon the Lord started to convict my heart. I didn’t want to go to church because I was ashamed of the sin in my life. In 2010, the Lord cross my path with a great pastor, Johnny Touchet. He truly took me under his wing and has taught me what being a disciple really means. I’m learning now what true ministry is. I love the Lord and enjoy talking about His Great Nature!
Through great leadership at my church, I have seen the need to finish my education. I am a student of Covington Theological Seminary. The Lord has been such a blessing and I don’t deserve anything He has done for me. He has not only restored a broken fool, but has entrusted me in Leadership. I teach the youth sunday school class and assist the Associate Pastor, Jeff Jowers, in anything he needs. Never again will I live in pride and arrogance and take glory for His work! GOD TO YOU BE THE GLORY!
-J. Brent Cantrell