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My name is Brandon Burns, and I am originally from Memphis, Tennessee. My family and I moved from Memphis to Quantico, Virginia in 2014. My wife Laura and I have been married almost eight years, and we have two handsome boys, Porter and Morgan, and our first girl, MacCrea.
Growing up, while my mom became a Christian at a young age, my dad was not a believer. Although he was not a Christian, he chose to enroll me and my sister into St. Ann’s Catholic School for our middle school years. I was not a believer at this point in my life, but I knew I was thirsty for something. However, I did not know what that was. I started to study all the different denominations I could think of and attend churches from each of the denominations I studied.
During this time, I was constantly feeling depressed and I wanted to kill myself. Therefore, one day I decided put a .38 caliber gun into my mouth, ready to pull the trigger, but the phone rang. It was my friend Hall, and he wanted to know how I was doing and if I wanted to hang out with him. After reluctantly accepting his offer, he then asked if I would go to church with him at Ellendale Baptist that Sunday. I said yes, but just to meet all the girls. What I did not know is that he had just invited me to his church’s revival. That Sunday, I tried to sit through the service, but I felt too convicted to stay. Consequently, thirty minutes into it, I got up and left.
John 16:8, “…he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment.”
That Monday, Hall asked me if I would go again, and I said no. However, he kept asking me until I said yes. Once again, about halfway into the service, I was convicted by the Holy Spirit, and I got up and left. Not willing to give up, my friend Hall asked me once more to come with him to church, and out of respect for him, I said yes. This time, thirty minutes into it, I was ready to leave again; however, I was trapped because I had 10 people on my left and 10 on my right. I began to cry.
After the service ended, I kept crying, and a guy one row in front of me asked why I was crying. I told him that I did not know but I wanted to accept Christ. Afterwards, they shared the gospel with me and led me into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It was in the body of Christ where I saw a purpose that was more than I expected, and I am now alive because of Christ.
2 Cor. 5:17, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come."
Five weeks later, I was baptized.
For the first three years, I struggled to maintain intimacy with Christ and consistency in my walk with Christ. I had faith but no deeds. (James 2:14-26) I felt convicted all the time by the Holy Spirit, but God refused to give up on me. He was and is still changing me!
John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from Me you can do nothing.”
The challenge for me has been, am I listening close enough to God? If God were to tell me to do something, would I be obedient? One thing I do know is that we should tell everybody the message of Jesus Christ, because there is a whole world that does not know.
Romans 12:1-2 says, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect."
For the ten months before I joined the Marines, I was living for Christ with a burning passion. At the age of 17, I joined the U.S. Marine Corps. I always wanted to be a Marine and I knew that this was what I was going to do. I went to boot camp at Paris Island, and then went to be trained at the School of Infantry at Camp Lejeune. There in S.O.I., I was taught my specialty as a machine gunner. I was also informed that I would soon be going to Iraq. After infantry training, I went to Camp Pendleton, where I was assigned to the 3rd Battalion 1st Marines Weapons Company. Five months in at Camp Pendleton, we were deployed to Iraq.
While on my way to Iraq, I was excited to go and perform what I had been trained to do. We landed in Kuwait, and one day later flew to an airbase four-and-a-half hours outside of Fallujah. Afterwards, we then drove to a base just outside of Fallujah. For four-and-a-half months, we patrolled in six-hour shifts two times a day. While on patrol, not a lot happened; it was normally boring. I had been there two and a half months and never even fired a weapon. The longer I was there, however, the more heated the fighting became, and the more dangerous it was to be on patrol.
On the morning of November 8, 2004, we started to go into the Battle of Fallujah. The next day, my life changed forever. While battling the insurgents, I was shot in the head by a sniper. I do not know how I survived, but I spent the next two weeks in a coma, where I awoke in Bethesda, Maryland. The doctors had to perform a tracheotomy, so I could no longer speak, read, write, or walk for a long time. I had to learn how to do those things all over again. I was paralyzed on the right side of my body, and I even died five times! The doctors kept bringing me back, but I wanted to get to Heaven. My King was not ready for me yet.
Philippians 1:21, “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”
For over a year after the incident, I battled with depression again. I was confused and I felt worthless. If God was going to let me get shot, why would he not just let me die? However, about five or six months after I was shot, my dad came home from work a bit troubled. I asked my dad what was wrong. He told me that my best friend, Lance Corporal Dickson had died. Although he was my best friend, I didn’t know if he was going to heaven. This uncertainty made me very uneasy. It was at that point that I knew how God was going to use me. I swore that on his memory, I would go and tell everybody about Jesus Christ. They can call me crazy, fanatical, or just plain out of my mind, but I do not care what anybody says, because I believe it is my job until the day I die to make Disciples of anyone who will give an ear to the Lord's Word!