Denver Seminary

Engage Magazine - Fall 2013

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TAKE IT FROM HERE Even when I didn't want Him, He was always there, and He reminded me that His grace is sufficient, and His power is made perfect in weakness.… He taught me to trust Him, since I cannot trust my emotions." According to the National Institute of Mental Health, one in four families this year will have a family member who actively struggles with a mental disorder. CALLED, BUT BROKEN When they were admitted into the master of divinity program at Denver Seminary, Brandon and Stephen both felt called to serve as pastors in church ministry. But, as Stephen recalls, "Honestly, I felt like Moses, asking why God chose a broken, unbalanced man like me to do His work." At the same time, Brandon's pornography addiction was "under the radar" and tied to a deeper issue: "I thought to myself, 'God loves me, but I'm not worth that.' I didn't believe God could forgive what I did last night—and He couldn't possibly love me as His son." Another friend urged him to seek private counseling, which he did. The Seminary's mentoring program played a part in his recovery. Brandon used that opportunity, along with his wife, to focus on the spiritual practice of abiding: learning how to spend time with God and hear His voice. TAKE IT FROM HERE Meanwhile, an Old Testament class with Danny Carroll brought "perspective about people at the margins," Brandon says. "I realized that my battle with depression has made me a minority. That perspective shift was really important for me." "Elodie Emig's classes were about learning how to be a family—and during that time, we also studied Greek. The same was true of Craig Blomberg, who is an incredible New Testament scholar, but with him, it was as much about being known personally." An important take-away from Brandon's time here at Denver Seminary reflects his own investment in classroom learning combined with deep relationships. "One of the biggest reasons to go to seminary is to give God the opportunity for an intentional place of growth. You can learn many different things, but the bigger deal for me is that you get out of it what you put into it. It can be getting a piece of paper, or it can be a transformational experience." John North/ And yet, Stephen notes, "We have discovered a dramatic lack of resources when it comes to a theology of mental health." He and Brandon decided to become "pastors of a different sort" in 2012 when they co-founded My Quiet Cave—a faith-based, nonprofit organization that provides education, resources, and trained mentors to come alongside people with mental disorders. PASTORS OF A DIFFERENT SORT While attending Denver Seminary, Brandon and Stephen recognized a ministry opportunity in addressing a gap they see between the church and the world of mental health. 18  FALL 2013 My Quiet Cave doesn't replace the need for professional mental health care or medication but, rather, supplements those treatments with another much-needed remedy: empathy. "The best way to support someone going through mental distress is to be with them," Stephen explains.

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