When Brent and Andy met each other, they had no idea what had been set in motion… but God knew.
One day in the future, Andy would need to step down from his much-loved role at Baptist World Aid. And, when that time came, this young man would be his successor.
“Andy has been speaking into my life unofficially for about six years,” Brent tells me. “About 18-months ago, he asked if I wanted to have a formalised mentor / mentee relationship.
“He is basically a sounding board; a person who is not from my church, who I can feel free to share things with and get guidance from.”
As his mentor, not only has Andy discipled Brent in his Christian faith, but he has also been instrumental to Brent’s growing passion about issues of poverty – something that would later become one of the driving factors in his decision to apply to become Queensland’s next Baptist World Aid State Representative.
“I’ve only been a Christian for a bit over six years and, before that, I was all about building my own kingdom,” Brent shares, candidly. “I did an apprenticeship as an electrician, because I knew you could make a lot of money out of that, and I come from a typical Australian culture where it’s all about getting as much as you can get.
“When I became a Christian, I had to reconcile my newfound faith with that consumerist lifestyle. Over a number of years, it just happened – reading the scriptures and talking to Andy – poverty became a passion.”
While neither man knew it, God was quietly using their friendship to make one ready to continue the legacy of the other. God was preparing Brent’s heart for such a time as this.
“Over the time I spent as a Pastor looking into scripture and dealing with daily church ‘stuff’,” he says, “I began to realise that, as Christians, we can often be aware of Jesus’s words about poverty, but not necessarily act on them.”
Interestingly, Brent has never been confronted with the reality of poverty overseas himself. His passion and heart for the issue has grown out of God-breathed revelation.
“My reading of the scriptures instils within me that passion,” he says. “I think having a true openness to what the scriptures have to say about people living in poverty, and setting the oppressed free, means that we can be passionate about it, even if we haven’t met people living in poverty ourselves. We don’t need to be confronted with poverty to know what Christ says.
“So, as a seeker after Jesus, as someone seeking to live my life like Him, I guess it’s inevitable that I would also get His passion for the poor. Despite not having experienced it firsthand.”
It’s something that he hopes Queensland Baptist Churches will be encouraged by.
“I used to think that you had to be this really amazing and special person to be involved in poverty alleviation,” he tells me, “but it’s really not true. You just have to be someone who has a heart for Christ, who seeks after His will, and who seeks to replicate how He lived.”
It’s something which Brent, perhaps, learned from Andy himself.
“Andy would be the first person to say that he’s not particularly special. He just says, ‘Well, God uses what God will use,’” says Brent.
“It’s a great responsibility having known him personally. Having known how he’s done ministry and then to try and step up and be the guy that follows him – I truly know that his ARE big shoes to fill!
“But I continue to try my best to just step back and recognise God’s role in all of this. I’ll seek to do my best before the Lord, and trust that He is going to do the rest.”