Branden Key

Branden KeyAT FOURTEEN I WAS RUNNING WITH A BAD CROWD

    I was asked to speak on the call of God in my life, and my testimonial about hearing the voice of God. I'm going to share what I know; which is I’m thankful that God does not call the qualified, but qualifies the called.

    Everything that I am today, or that I will do in my life is because of His work. I was dead in my trespasses in sin, but because of His wondrous love, His grace and the gift of salvation, that He found a fourteen-year-old boy and lifted me up out of the pit.

 

   As David said in Psalms 40:2-3, “He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God; Many will see and fear And will trust in the Lord.”

   I was raised in the church and have Godly parents who made me go to church.

   I'm thirty-two years old, and grew up watching wrestling.  They had two main days, the World Wrestling Federation (WWF) on Wednesday evening, and the World Wrestling Evolution on Monday night. I used to like to watch smackdown because I liked The Rock who knew how to talk some good trash. I wanted to stay home and watch wrestling on Wednesdays, but mama made me go to church. So, I decided to fake it and stay home. The only problem was I would have to fake sickness so hard that my mom thought I was dying, and I would have to go to the clinic. I realized that I would be in the clinic so late; it would be later than if I went to church, so I just gave up. It was either the clinic or the healing line, so I went to church.

   I've always thought it was interesting in my life, that God didn’t save me in a church. I was only fourteen years old and running with a bad crowd. I was doing things that weren’t pleasing to God. If He had not rescued me when He did, I would have either been in prison or dead. It had gotten so bad, that my mother had to quit working full time just to try to keep up with me and monitor who I was hanging around. Because of my parents’ prayers and persistence, I believe that's the only reason I stand today redeemed by the blood of the Lamb.

   I accepted Christ as my Savior in July of 2000, in the middle of the night in my bedroom. I knew at that moment, God was calling me into the ministry. I preached my first sermon in July 2000 and began to evangelize through preaching revivals all over, and the Lord really blessed my ministry.

     On Pentecost Sunday, 2001, I was empowered by the Holy Spirit and given the ability to be a witness and saw miracles, signs, and wonders take place. There are powers that flow from Calvary's Hill. He is God the Holy Spirit, and He is the comforter, the baptizer, the filler, the teacher, the encourager, and He is the helper. 

   At the age of eighteen, it became clear to me that the Lord was calling me into pastoral ministry. I really believed in what the Bible says in Second Peter 1:10,Therefore, brethren, be even more diligent to make your call and election sure, for if you do these things you will never stumble.” I don't want to be just doing godly things; I want to be doing the right things, in the right place, at the right time, and with the right people. I believe that every person drawing a breath into their body; God has a plan for your life. God didn’t create us just to exist.

   God told Jeremiah, “Before you were formed in your mother's womb, I knew you.

   The Bible tells us that the Lord has a plan and a purpose for every one of us. Jeremiah 29:11-13, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.”

   I began to seek God, "Lord, where is it that you would have me to go? What is it you would have me to do?" I feel at about eighteen years of age, the Lord was doing that.

   I can remember when I was about seventeen or eighteen; I was preaching revivals and wasn't being booked as much as I wanted to. I wasn't speaking near as much, which back then if you asked me to preach at 9:00 o'clock, 10:00 o'clock, 11:00 o'clock, 12, I would do it. I love the Word of God. I love to share the Word of God; I love to preach the Word of God. I can remember a preacher while attending church with my pastor. I walked up to him and said, “I feel like if I don’t preach; I’m going to burn in hell.”

   He said, “No, but you have to live right, if you don’t want to burn in hell.”

   I thought about that and actually believe with everything in me, that you can never truly live for God; if you're not doing what it is he has called you to do. The only way to live a holy life is to live a submitted life before God. In living a submitted life, you live a surrendered life saying, "God I will do what you want me to do. I will go where you want me to go. I will say what you want me to say."

   Knowing that the Lord continued to lead me in my life, there have been two guiding verses that the Lord really used to guide me, 2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” And Proverbs 19:2, “Also it is not good for a soul to be without knowledge, and he sins who hastens with his feet.”

   When I was younger, it explained why I was messing up so much. Desire without knowledge is not good, and whoever makes haste with your feet misses his way. I knew at that moment, it wasn't just enough for me preach; I needed to learn how. If you don't know what you’re doing, you need to pray for the preacher.  “Dear God, I wish they would hurry up and get done; I'm ready to go to the buffet.”

   I loved to ride my motorcycle, and polished every piece of chrome. Here I am a skinny little white riding a Harley. If you don't ride a Harley, you can ride in the back with all of our guests. I remember there was a guy that rode a Kawasaki Ninja in the back. He came out of a restaurant and they had poured rice under his tail pipe. Practical jokes were fun to play on non-Harley bikers.

      The Lord began to lead me into not just being willing to jump into doing something but to take the time to learn. The apostle Paul spent three years at the foot of Gamaliel, to learn the law that he would later stand and proclaim. In doing that, as the Lord was calling me into pastoral ministry; I knew the Lord was leading me in a different direction as well, I knew in my spirit that I would go to a very small church. You know, just because someone is called into pastoral ministry that can be several different things as well.

   There are those who are called to plan a church. There are those that are called to serve on the staff at a church. They eventually assume the leadership of that church as the former pastor retires. I knew immediately in my spirit, that the Lord wanted me to go to a small church that was on the verge of closing. God was going to use me to help turn it around, and make it a pillar in the life in His community. In the denomination that I am a part of, I can remember going through the credentialing process in order to get my ministers license and was asked what is it you want to do? I said that I want to take one of the smallest churches you have and pastor them, and I saw him salivating. And they're like, we got something for you in our denomination, you have a place with us. I thought it was because I was so good, but fourteen years later I knew they just needed somebody that was willing to do so.

   I knew as a result, that I may not be at a church that could provide for my financial means and take care of me. I was seeking the Lord in where to go; not just in pastoral ministry, I asked the Lord, what He wants me to do to supplement my income, and He led me to become a school teacher. I went to the University of South Carolina (USC), only because the University of Georgia at Athens (UGA) was more expensive. I settled for a subpar education versus the Georgia Bulldogs, and I received my teaching degree. I've taught school for five years while also being a youth pastor, and studying under a pastor. I thought I was going to learn what to do; but really learned what not to do, and I served for eight years as a student pastor.

   Five of those eight years, I spent teaching in a Middle School. It was close to prison, and thought I was in lock down. I was told that I had the kids even for lunch and felt like I was doing a prison sentence. You know, like a work program, where you can go out and then you come back in a day. I went home at the end of the day, and I came to prison during the day.

   But I knew that’s Lord, how the Lord works. As I did that, I became a part of that community. A lot of the kids had nothing to do with church. We have a kid that I taught, who walked to church every Sunday. He would come to church, beaten in the face by his brother; who was on drugs. He would come to church with tears down his face and all bruised up. Some church members fed him and made sure he was taken care of. The thing that I love the most about my church is how it’s growing the way it is.

   I began to realize that for some reason, I don't know why, but some people only want to listen to a preacher or anybody if they have the word ‘doctor’ in front of their name. It frustrated me a bit, but I said I’m not going to let that stand in the way. I went back and received my master's degree from the Pentecostal Theological Seminary. It's the Church of God Denomination Seminary. Now I'm finishing up my Doctorate Degree at Regent University in Strategic Leadership. When it comes to hearing the voice of God, the route in which the Lord has led me, is not necessarily the route that He leads everyone else. I can’t tell you when it comes to hearing the voice of God, and when it comes to walking in the calling of God is not about living your life the way everyone else is living theirs. It’s about being who God created you to be. You know one of the interesting things in the scriptures that you hear constantly, is the reference, to the idea of the Christian life being the race.

   I used to be a runner, and one of the things if you're running a race, all of us know the saying, on your mark, get set, go. When it comes to hearing the voice of God, and walking with God, we would do well if we listen to Him by simply saying, on your mark. In other words, you get in your lane, drop down and get ready. When he says, "Go," you go the way He's telling you.

   A lot of times racers cannot be effective when they're looking at the other person's mark and saying, "Well, they're doing it this way, this is how their life is. Why did they get more than me? Why am I struggling? Why do they have more influence than me?" Well, they didn't do this and after that God’s not calling you to run in their leg, He's telling you don't run the race that He has set before you. Hear His voice, listen to Him and go to where He says.

   I'm not here saying that that the route in which I went is your route. I'll tell you this, before you were born, He knows you. He had a plan for you, and it’s a plan to accomplish for His kingdom that no one else can do but you.

When I heard the voice of the Lord in West Columbia, it didn't really surprise me. I always thought I was going to pastor somewhere exotic, like Charleston. But I wanted to pastor on the beach, maybe in upstate Greenville-Spartanburg area. But the Lord at that point, was turning me back towards the area I grew up in, which is Graniteville. When I was a youth pastor at the church in Graniteville, the church had grown to a church about sixty to seventy people. When it split, I was extremely hurt by the pastor. I became a very bitter man.

   I became so angry at that pastor; I would lay in bed at night, shaking. I was so mad at him and wished something evil would happen to him. I would lay there angry, and go out and preach the love of God. It was the epitome of hypocrisy.

   When I met my future wife, we didn't know each other at that time. Eventually, that pastor ended up getting murdered. He left the ministry, and became hooked on drugs. I was so thankful it wasn’t over me. I hurt inside when that man died.

   I was still overcome with bitterness and told my wife, Sierra, about it.

   Naturally, she says, "You ain't never going back. I don't even like the term Graniteville."

   It's like Jezebel or something, you leave them alone. The Lord was calling me back to the area, and I tried to get a church in Edgefield and didn't get it. Out of the blue, my wife looks at me while we're driving back from Edgefield. When you hear the voice of God, you want to ask a question, and maybe it wasn’t just indigestion. But then when your wife is being led by the Spirit of the Lord and tells you the same thing. He's spoken to you, and you haven't said anything.

   We’re driving down the road and she says, "I know you tried out at Edgefield for me, but you needed me to be at Graniteville."

   I said, "The devil is a lie, the devil is a lie".

   So, we went to a camp meeting that was in January, and went to a camp meeting in June in Mauldin, South Carolina.

   I said, "I'm not going to be around a preacher at all."

   We think we can fix everybody's problems, with so much advice for everybody. I didn't want to be around a single preacher. I wanted to talk to a church person, but that’s hard to do when you’re in a room with two thousand people. I'm going to go home and pull up to the hotel. One of my closest friends in the ministry happens to pull up with all his preacher friends. I was stuck with preachers only. But I stuck to my guns, went to church and I left.

   By this time, I had a baby, Red, my oldest daughter. She'll be seven years old in February, and she is awesome.  When she was about three or four months old, my aunt and uncle, who pastors in Spartanburg, got to see her. I can remember I was as far from that speaker, from the gate. We were sitting on the bench and away from everybody.

   This man comes to that gate shelter and asks, "Are you Brandon Key?" 

   I said. "Yes."

   He says, "We've heard that you're an awesome preacher and we want you to come pastor our church."

   This was a church in Camden and had one hundred people. I was twenty-six years old with a church of one hundred people. I get to be full time and know this has got to be for me. So I called my uncle, and told him. He said something that I didn’t want to hear, they He bury preachers. Driving by to know this church, it's the church that my uncle was talking about. If they don't love, you keep on driving. The preachers do too.

   I can remember being on the phone with my uncle and he said, "You don't need to go there. You need to go to Graniteville.

   I just get frustrated, and asked, "Well Lord, what do I do?"

   The preacher that was pasturing there was seventy-nine years old. Precious man of God who had retired and was pasturing this church to keep it open. So, I called him, his name is W.H Brian. He stayed on and worked with me for three years after I became the pastor. At eighty-four years old, he went to another small church and is helping to build it up. He is a man full of calling with a full purpose. An incredible man of God. I told him half-heartedly, when you get ready to retire let me know. I'd like to talk to the overseer; I might want to go to this church. He said okay, and hangs us, pumping gas at that gas station down by the Wendy's on Martintown road.

    Two weeks later, he calls me, "I want you to come preach for me Sunday morning."

   Sunday morning I'm by myself; stepping up on that old raggedy porch on the front of the building and grabbing that old patina gold handle. God said, "This is where you'll be." I preached that morning to an empty house. It was awful. The music was awful, the sound system was so bad, and they wouldn't turn it on. Because when we did it sounded like a rifle going off pop, pop, pop, pop, pop. So, we didn’t use it.

   We had a good church in Colombia; and everything's going well, for the most part.

   The preacher said, "Brandon, there's no guarantee that if I tell you when I retire, you’ll get this church. But what I feel that you need to do is to come work with me for a few months, and we'll see how this works. I can't pay you as much as what you were making before. I'll give you this much."

   I said, "Okay," I have to walk to my car to explain to my wife. I told her and she said we need to do it. My wife and I have always been on the same page and every time the Lord speaks. He is not the author of confusion, but of power and love, and a sound mind. He has never allowed confusion to creep into my home when it comes to this. I worked with them from August to December. I take over the church and never knew this until after I started pasturing, the council told me that Brother Brian, in that two-week time, called them in and said the Lord spoke to him and said a young man had called him about taking the church and God said, you are the man.

   Before I took over the church, they held Bible studies there. I wish I could give some deep reason why we cancelled it, but I just didn't want to be coming up there every Saturday morning and open the church after working a full week. They tell me that they would gladly meet somewhere else. A man stopped me in the foyer of the church and he told me something I'll never forget.

   He looked at me and said, "God wants me to tell you right now, people are going to be coming from everywhere to come in this place. They're going to be coming off the streets and God is going to do something that you cannot imagine.” I wish I could be super-spiritual, instead, I said this guy's crazy. It's time to go home, but the Lord didn't. When we came to that church, we were averaging twenty-seven people in attendance. In our first year we grew to eighty people, I quit teaching in April 2014, and the next year we began a building campaign in 2015 and we have been in one ever since. We constructed a family life center that we dedicated in August of 2015, and within three months of doing so, we had outgrown our facility. This is when Robert came into the picture, and let me share the miracle that took place. We began to look around for property. I was looking for land and the Lord spoke to me in the bathroom while I was getting out of the shower. He told me the name of a man and to send him an email. So, I send him an email and said I'm looking for some land, do you know of any deals going on? He's intertwined in the community; and owns half of the town. I get a message from his assistant to call him the next day. I called him the next day; he said that he was praying about a piece of land h owns. When I said Amen, my email was sitting on his desk. He told me to go to such and such road, and see the place on it. Look at it and call him as soon as I can. I got on my motorcycle and broke every law to get there.

   I go up there and called him.

He said, "Right there is five-point thirty-nine acres of land." I said, "How much do you want for this?"

   He says, "The Lord told me to give it to you if you want it."

   That land was appraised at $300,000. We get ready to start our campaign to raise the money. I get a phone call Thursday before we start the campaign, it was the same man.

   He asked, "How are you doing Brandon?"

   I said, "I’m good. Getting ready to start our campaign to raise the money Sunday." He said, "Well, the Lord reminded me of something I told you sometime back. You tell your people when you raise one hundred dollars; I'll give you one hundred thousand dollars." I said okay, we would do that. Few months later he called me and asked, "How things were going with the banks?" He said he wanted me to call the president; and tell him about his donation. I said I already told him and he said no. He said to tell him about the other hundred thousand dollars he’s about to give us. Before it was all over, this man gave almost $300,000, on top of the land for our church.

   The building program should have taken three years, beginning in 2016. We moved into that facility on April 22 of 2018, we moved into our facility.

   Beginning in October 2018, we began to campaign for the next phase of building. We've outgrown where we are right now. By the spring, we were running over two hundred people in attendance. Now, we're currently a church of close to 300 active attendees and is one of the largest churches in our community. 

Branden Key Hearing His Voice Testimony

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Branden Key Hearing His Voice Testimony