My Testimony

O.C. Brunette

"Come and hear, all ye that fear God, and I will declare what He hath done for my soul." PSALM 66:16

When I first read the above scripture during my daily Bible reading, it hit me like a ton of bricks! I realized that although I have told many people bits and pieces of what The Lord has done for me, I've never really given a testimony to a person or group on all that He has done for me. Well, here it is:

Reflecting back on my life, I now know that God has been dispatching angels to watch over me all my life. It started with a blessed old lady named Ms. Annie Wright that occasionally babysat me when I was about six or seven. Since my mother was an alcoholic and there was no father, I frequently stayed with Ms. Wright as mom went on her binges. (Realizing now that alcoholism is a disease, I forgave my mom a long time ago and make it a point to see her often.) During this time, I remember going to church a lot and sometimes even to prayer meetings at people homes. This  was my first contact with God and one of His angels. Ms. Wright fed me, guided me, and prayed for me. I thank God for her. And when she wasn't around, there were always other "angels" that made sure that I ate and went to school. When I was about nine years old, my mother came home drunk one night and I just couldn't take it anymore. I got on my bike in nothing but my "tighty whities" underwear and rode to my grandmother's house.  After she saw me crying and hearing my story, she and my grandfather took me in. They did this even though they had two kids around my age and a grown daughter with a son of her own living with them!

Even though my grandparents treated me well, it wasn't enough to stop me from being consumed by the streets and all that goes with it. I found myself partying, doing drugs, drinking and stealing every chance I got. Keep in mind that I'm still in my teens and in high school. It all ended when I was arrested for breaking into a sporting goods store and stealing guns. Since I had committed myself to join the Navy, the judge kept me in jail (15 days) until the day before I was scheduled to report. Those 15 days changed my life (temporarily). It was one of the most horrible experiences of my life and I vowed never to return. Thanks to God Almighty, I made it through and never returned.

The Navy years (2 active and 4 inactive) were more of drinking and drugging, but the good part about it was that I got to see a lot of God's work in the places that I visited. I was awed by the beauty and magnificence of places I only read about in books. That's why I love traveling so much today; there's so much to see! After the Navy, I got a job at Brown and Williamson and later got married at the age of 21. During this time my oldest daughter Shannon was born and she became the joy of my life and still is. Two other relationships produced two more bundles of joy (a son D'Void and my youngest daughter Octavia). They kept things real for me because I never knew my father. I've always been there for them and always will. Even though I was still drinking and drugging, it never stopped me from giving my children the love, care and support that they deserved.

My marriage ended after five years. To me, this is God's plan. He had someone special for me. Several relationships later, I'm still drinking and drugging more and more. By this time I'm working at Philip Morris and the devil comes up with a plan for me to sell drugs. This was a terrible move because not only did it cause more unrest in my life, but I found myself addicted to crack. In the midst of all the trouble that comes with being an addict (dealing with shady people, missing time from work, etc.), God ministered to me through many faithful saints on my job. The two that had the most influence were Sister Tanya Blowe and Brother Ken Barbour (now a Pastor of his own church). They never gave up on me and constantly revealed to me that only Jesus could turn my life around. I really enjoyed the Chick Tracks that Sister Tanya always gave to me and I thank God for them both.

In an attempt to curb my drug and alcohol use, I enrolled in college at age 39. Even then God was with me. How else can I explain graduating from ECPI (Summa Cum Laude with an Electronics Certificate) and receiving two A.A.S. degrees (Summa Cum Laude and 4.0 average in Industrial Electronics and Magna Cum Laude in Computer Technology) while working 12 hour shifts and sometimes six and seven day weeks? The turning point came when after a night of missing work and smoking crack, I got a call that my job was over and I would be terminated when I return. I immediately fell to my knees and asked God to not only save my job, but to take the addiction away. He did both! Glory to God!! God did what six or seven trips to drug rehab couldn't do and He did it in an instant!

After refusing Brother Ken's invitation to visit his church many times, I finally agreed to go. It was there at Elohim Christian Outreach Center in 1992 that I was saved, baptized and my life began to change. I later visited and joined New Beginning Tabernacle at the urging of Sister Glorine Henderson. Being involved with the church brought lots of joy, but I felt like a hypocrite because I was living with a person that I was not married to. I wrongly left the church. This realization came to me years later and I returned to New Beginning in 2004 and remained there until 2010. While a member of New Beginning, I served on the Usher and Deacon boards, the Board of Trustees, designed and maintained the church's web site, and did anything else that I was asked to do. I just wanted to give something back to God for all that He had done for me.

In March of 2011, the Spirit of God led me to join the wonderful Church family of Second Baptist Church on Broad Rock Blvd. in south Richmond where the Pastor is Ralph S. Hodge. Since I know that I am naturally a servant, I joined the Usher Board, received and accepted an invitation to join the Trustee Ministry in 2014. I also am a part of the church's technology group, audio/video technician and I designed and maintains the church's web site. As the Spirit leads me, I'll do anything else that I can to bring Glory to God.

I retired from Philip Morris in 2008 and now spend my time serving the Lord, enjoying family, repairing computers, designing and maintaining web sites, traveling and playing golf. I also remarried  on October 13, 2012 to the wonderful and exciting Clara Campbell. Am I perfect today? No...and I won't be until I'm in heaven with God. My flesh is weak like everyone else's and I just pray that God will remove all of the shortcomings that's not pleasing in His sight. Just as God performed miracles in the Bible, He's still doing it today and I'm glad to be one of them. Pray for me as I'll be praying for you. Be blessed...

Orlando C. Brunette


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