Art Brennan - My Life In Christ
By Dino Ingram, TBC Communications Volunteer
Every new Christian takes a different path when coming to Christ. There are as many paths as there are individuals who travel them. While many cross and converge, in the end, each path is unique. Art Brennan has been actively serving at Topeka Bible Church for 26 years. He took some time to share his path to the cross.
Art was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1950 and is the oldest of four brothers. His parents were practicing Catholics. His dad was typical blue collar, working as a die-cut operator. His mom stayed home and raised Art and his brothers until their teen years, going to work as a telephone operator in a hospital in New Jersey.
Art went the direction of many youth in the sixties. “When I was in my teens I experimented with drugs. I didn't enjoy drinking that much. I didn't smoke cigarettes just weed.”
After graduating from high school in 1969, he went to work for a home center near his house. Shortly thereafter he was drafted and stationed in Vietnam from 1970 to 1971 where his drug use increased.
“When I went in the Army, there was more opportunity to do more drugs. When I went to Nam, I did a lot of drugs,” he recounted. “I came back home and continued to fill my days with drugs and parties.”
After his discharge he returned to New Jersey, resuming his employment at Rickel’s Home Center as a forklift driver, but continued the drugs and the partying lifestyle. Not long after that, he got married, quit his job, moved to Kansas and then had a child, finding new employment as a forklift operator. His marriage was a self-described, “four-year train wreck.” Not surprisingly, the union ending in divorce.
“I decided that I wanted to do my drugs instead of having a family,” Art recalled. “I left with only a mattress and a ten-speed bike. I stayed with a friend from work, living in his attic apartment for a month.”
He moved into an apartment with his friends and continued his downward spiral with drugs.”
Even though Art didn’t know it and he didn’t care, God was working in his life, directing his path,.
One day while loading a truck, Art was approached by a co-worker who asked him if he knew Jesus Christ as his personal Savior. Art’s only concept of Jesus was from his Catholic upbringing: The Christmas baby and the Easter ‘guy.’ The man gave him a New Testament and told him to read it. Art read the Gospel a couple of times, expecting something magical to happen. When it didn’t, he wanted to return it, but his friend wouldn’t take it back.
Still, God didn’t give up on Art. As a loving omniscient Father, he knew the outcome.
Art continued with drugs but did start reading the pocket New Testament in secret. “I couldn't let the guys in my apartment know I was reading it as I was still smoking dope. I’d hide in the stairwell and read it, then I’d put it away and go back to the apartment.”
“One day, in 1988, I was reading the pocket New Testament. It was John 3:16. WHAM! It hit me. Despite being empty-hearted with a drugged mind, one simple verse told me that someone died for my sins,” Art fondly recalled. “It was Jesus!"
"I started crying like a baby, bawling out loud. I accepted him right there! I went into my apartment and told my friends that it is all over. I am done with drinking and drugs. That was my way to the cross.”
As he began developing a relationship with Jesus Christ, he became friends with a woman named Sandy through their work at Payless Shoes. Their friendship grew into a romantic love that led to them getting married. Art says founding their marriage on Christ has led to 34 wonderful years together.
Sometimes as believers we just need to rest in Him, breathe and grow, before we start serving. Art was at that point. He searched a long time for a Bible teaching church before he found TBC. “I walked into TBC and just sat in the back and listened as I watched Jim teach from God's Word. I sat there for a year when someone asked me to hand out bulletins.”
Sometime after that, Betty Cazier, a long time TBC member, approached him. “She asked me if I was in a Sunday school class. Before I could answer she took my hand and guided me to the Adriel class.”
Since that time, Art has been serving and ministering in many areas of the church. He supervises the offering and communion teams in the 8:00 service for Sunday morning. You’ll then find him greeting at the door before the 9:30 a.m. service. If he’s not greeting, he’s serving in the Adriel Sunday School class. He also works on the TBC visitation team, collecting and delivering bulletins and class lessons to shut-ins. He also checks on the welfare of those who haven’t attended for a while and he offers rides to people in his neighborhood that might not otherwise be able to attend. He also does setup for the monthly men’s breakfast, getting drinks and tables ready.
His heart to serve extends beyond the walls of Topeka Bible Church. He feels that his true calling and passion is mentoring and ministering to youth. He’s spent the last 10 years as a volunteer with the Pioneer Boy's Club. Art has been involved with a camping ministry for over 25 years and has spent the last 14 years regularly traveling to Iowa to work with youth in the wilderness as part of The Christian Service Brigade. He’s looking for a way to bring that ministry to Topeka.
Art’s philosophy is simple but effective:
“I go where he [God] tells me. He opens doors, I go through. He closes them, and I don’t.”
Topeka Bible Church is really blessed to have members like Art, who want to serve and minister God’s love to others.
“I am so blessed,” Art said in awe. “How can I not serve? I am humbled by the strength and power of the word of God.”