When you ask Brandon the motto for his life, he’ll tell that God places him in the wrong place at the right time. His commitment to serve and protect started after high school when he joined the military in 1998. As a former Marine, he’s dodged plenty of bullets to help save the lives of others.
During those next four years of active duty, he was selected as presidential security for former Presidents George W Bush, Bill Clinton, and later for Pastor Chuck Smith who founded the Calvary Chapel movement.
In 2002, Brandon joined law enforcement and took a leave of absence in 2004 to volunteer in Iraq. By 2005, he returned to his position as a police officer where he has loyally served ever since.
But a pivotal turn in 2010 would change Brandon’s life forever. As a courageous protector committed to saving lives, it was then God who saved his own.
“I had pride issues and God broke me down,” recalls Brandon. “I realized then that he had created me to help and protect people by always putting me in the right place at wrong time.”
From pulling wounded from car accidents, to resuscitating a hiker who suffered a heart attack, the situations that Brandon found himself in allowed him to rescue and revive the hurting. In 2013, he started attending Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, where he volunteered to serve on Guest Relations.
Brandon’s compassion to guard, serve, and protect didn’t end in Southern California however. When Hurricane Harvey hit in August 2017, Brandon and two of his buddies — Chris and Daniel who are both police officers — used a month of annual vacation time to help victims of the storm.
Ironically Daniel first met Brandon during a drug operation. An attempt ambush on Daniel connected him with Brandon who was called in to help take the suspect into custody. Now, the three Christian law enforcement officers were uniting for the sake of strangers in Texas.
“It was on our hearts,” says Brandon. “We cleared the time off with our departments and drove from California to Texas. God put us in connection with the right people, linking us up with churches along the way.”
Between prayer for direction and networking with locals, they started in the town of Hitchcock in Galveston County. Pushing 12+ hour days, the three-man team shoveled muck, removed drywall, emptied homes, and salvaged anything they could for homeowners and churches. They also dropped off a load of supplies on behalf of Saddleback’s PEACE Team.
They always introduced themselves as law enforcement with one goal in mind: to serve. During their four days in Hitchcock, they cleared a church and tackled two homes — doing more work between the three of them, than some 10-person teams.
From there, they drove to the city of Vidor to help a widow — a retired deputy who had lost her husband to cancer. During the hurricane, her house was under 12 feet of water. After days of cleaning, the only thing the three men were able to spare were her weapons.
“These towns looked like a war zone,” says Brandon “There was so much work, and it was frustrating at times not being able to do enough.”
In the midst of their efforts, the SUV belonging to Daniel broke down. The setback kept them from heading to Rockport where they knew they were needed. That’s when someone from their unit recommended they call a dealership in Dallas. The owner there had heard of their sacrifice and wanted to bless them. On that same day, a brand new Chevy Silverado truck arrived on a flatbed rig. Daniel, Chris, and Brandon were handed the keys and were told they could keep the vehicle.
It was one miracle after another.
Once in Rockport, they were needed more for protection than for anything else. On that first night, the three men didn’t sleep a wink, working security for homes and businesses that were threatened by looters.
“It was up to us to help where we could,” says Brandon. “God really led us, and every place we worked, we talked about his love.”
Although mostly on an independent mission, the men briefly assisted Operation Blessing, Samaritan’s Purse, and Saddleback’s PEACE Relief Team. Over the course of a week, Brandon and his buddies partnered with 15 Saddleback volunteers to clear houses, remove debris, and make an impact.
“I was sad to leave,” Brandon says. “There was so much more work to be done. If I could, I would retire in Texas and just do volunteer work there. I love the people, and I love Texas. You can’t put a price on the satisfaction of serving. It’s a big part of my life.”
If only the story ended there . . . just one month later, Brandon’s girlfriend, Yolanda — also in law enforcement — invited him to attend a country music festival in Las Vegas. At the last minute, Brandon canceled his original plans to go camping so that he could join her in Vegas. Little did they know that a gunman would open fire on the crowd, leaving 58 people dead and 851 injured.
From the moment the first shots were fired, Brandon and Yolanda had one thing in mind: find the shooter. Pushing upstream from the rushing crowd, the two ordered concertgoers to stay down. Linking hands, they made their way to the stage, on the hunt for the shooter.
“I went into combat mode,” says Brandon, who completed an EMT course in 2009. “I started treating gunshot wounds and plugging bullet holes with trash bags as makeshift occlusive dressings. We loaded victims into cars and helped out in any way we could.”
That night, Brandon and Yolanda saved multiple lives during the long 10-minute shooting. After two-hours of treating victims, they worked through the night to help reunite the separated and bring order to the chaos. It wasn’t until 6:30 the next morning that they finally returned to the hotel.
When Brandon thinks of that night, he has mixed emotions of love, confusion, and anger. In the weeks that followed, he went to a handful of funerals for those he had treated.
“I feel such a sadness for the victims and anger at the savageness,” he says. “I did everything I could possibly do. I know I was meant to be there. God always puts me in places where he can use me.”
To learn how your church can be Purpose Driven and implement PEACE around the world, visit pd.church.