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Brian Uses His Time In ‘Darkness’ To Relate To Those Who Need Help

Aug 29, 2019

When Brian was wrapping up high school at Righetti, he struggled in deciding his next step: film school or seminary? He had been inspired by his youth pastors growing up and wanted to serve, but he also had a passion for film. More than a decade later, Brian has dabbled in pastoring and video, and has experienced more than he imagined.

While Brian chose to go to UC Santa Cruz to get his degree in film, he also worked every summer at a Christian camp, running their audio/visual department and making videos of the campers. “Once I got to Sugar Pine Christian Camp, I realized I’d actually gone there as a kid,” Brian said, laughing. “God really grew my video skills while I was there, as well as my skills working with youth.”

After graduation, Brian looked for a job, and eventually landed back in Santa Maria working for a television station. He returned to his church, formerly Santa Maria Community Church, now Heritage Church. “I was looking for a youth group to get plugged into to help out, and I decided to start one at Heritage,” Brian said. “It started with two kids and grew to about 12.”

Brian loved being a youth pastor to the group. But a few years in, an incident deeply affected him. Brian felt some bad behavior from one the kids at a birthday party reflected poorly on him as a leader. “Being a youth leader was my identity, and I felt responsible,” Brian said. “It just blew up, and all the parents were upset too. I’m a caring person, and sometimes I care too much. At the same time, work was really stressful, and the owners of the house I was renting decided to sell, so I had to move. It felt like my world was coming apart.”

Brian experienced depression for the first time. “I wasn’t sleeping, and was trying to go to work and get everything done. I was crying myself to sleep at night. At a summer camp, one of the leaders was asking (if I was OK). I said I just wanted to kill myself, that I wanted to jump over the fence and get hit by a car. I was sent to the emergency room for help. I realized how serious that was, saying that.”

Brian got help and stepped away from his job. “That was a really deep, dark time in my life,” Brian said. “I was in darkness. It took me about a year to get out of that depression. Without my faith, I wouldn’t have been able to climb out of there. You feel like that’s all you can hold onto, is Jesus.”

Brian credits his church with helping him out of the darkness. “I was distraught, and the people there, they just loved on me and they just got me out of it, one day at a time.”
Brian got involved with the rescue mission, first taking his youth group to help serve at meal outreaches, and then helping out with a Monday night class one of Heritage’s church elders leads there on Monday nights. Now, Brian works at Central Coast Super Thrift alongside several clients who do their vocational training at the thrift store. “The reason I wanted to come work here was just to build into the guys,” Brian said. “I wanted to really be there for them, pray for them, love on them as much as I could. God made it clear that this was where he wanted me to be.”

One Life Recovery Program client recently asked Brian to mentor him. “It’s a big responsibility, trying to keep him on the right path. It’s challenging, working with the guys, trying to understand their worlds,” Brian said. “But having gone through depression and anxiety helps me to relate to them. That’s what I feel God was doing at that time, after I finally got out of it. It didn’t make sense at the time, why I had to go through all of that. Later on though, it made sense. I realized that I’m going to be able to use what I went through to help someone else who has been there.”

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