Sharing the love of God in a time of tragedy
By Barbara Shoun
May 31, 2005
|FLORISSANT – Todd, Judith, Ron and Tonya Bracy at Lt. Col. Bracy’s retirement from the Air Force on June 8, 2002.|
ST. LOUIS — St. Louis Metro Baptist Association ministered to one of its own pastors and, in so doing, was able to spread the Gospel all the way to Europe.
When Ron and Judith Bracy’s son, Capt. Todd Bracy, was killed in a military plane crash in the mountains of Albania March 31, fellow pastors put the Bracys at the top of their weekly association prayer list.
Their concern was so strong that Jim Breeden, the association’s executive for church development, felt led by the Holy Spirit to go to England to be with the Bracys.
“The pastor needed a pastor, and I’m a pastor,” Breeden said.
When he took the idea to Benny King, director of missions, he received permission to go, along with a commitment that the association would help raise the cost of the plane fare.
The next day, Breeden attended a ministers’ conference where he shared his impression of what God wanted him to do. He came away with a promise of financing for the trip so that he and a layman could go to England to minister to the Bracy family. Jordan Fowle, a member of West County Community Church and a police officer, was chosen to accompany Breeden.
Then Breeden learned that, while the military paid for Capt. Bracy’s wife to go to England, it did not pay for his two young daughters. Trusting that the Lord would provide, Breeden committed to also raise the money for the girls’ tickets. All told, the cost would be about $8,000.
God began to send the money, starting with a $100 donation from a man who knew nothing about the Bracys but felt that God wanted him to deliver $100 to Jim Breeden. Churches in the association began to donate toward the cause.
Breeden and Fowle left St. Louis with a supply of Jesus Name gospel tracts that they planned to share as they could.
“St. Louis Metro Baptist Association sent two guys across the world to minister to one family, but God decided to use those men to share the Gospel with the world,” Breeden said.
From the time they left until they returned, they were able to share the Gospel with hundreds of people. As Breeden reports it, people would ask, “Why are you here?” The men would reply, “The churches in St. Louis love a pastor who lost his son in a plane crash.”
No one turned down the tracts they offered.
“When the world sees we love one another, they see the love of God and want it,” said Breeden, who kept a detailed journal of the trip. Their first convert was a 93-year-old man in Illinois.
Breeden and Fowle spent three days with the family at the Royal Air Force Station in Mildenhall, England, sharing Scripture and praying with them. On their last day, Ron asked them to clean a car so that his daughter-in-law could sell it. They washed and detailed the car.
“God taught [me] that the greatest love we can show is not preaching a sermon, but washing and detailing a car,” Breeden said, adding that the trip has taught him another lesson as well.
“There’s all of this emphasis on the purpose-driven life,” he says, “but God has convicted me that what the church truly needs to be is Spirit-driven. When God tells someone to do something, it might not seem to make sense, but God wants to use us to touch the world.”