[Before 2018], nobody outside of the small town of Humboldt, Saskatchewan knew the name Sean Brandow. How does someone from a community with a population of 6,000 people become a spiritual guide to a nation of 37-million? Sixteen members of the Humboldt Broncos hockey team tragically died in a bus accident on April 6, 2018. In a moment, Brandow, the team chaplain, was forced into a spotlight to help a nation make sense of what happened.
Many Canadian Christians believe their faith is being marginalized. This is why the story of Sean Brandow is even more remarkable. I do not know Mr. Brandow, but I know his faith has inspired me and many other men.
I admire the moments of transparency he has shared. During the vigil following the accident, he said this when describing what it was like to be at the hospital:
The only part of that Psalm that was just read, for about 15 hours that I heard in my head was: Even though I walk through the valley of darkness. That’s all I heard. That’s it. That’s it. That’s all that went through my head, this is it, this is the valley of death, this is the valley of darkness. And all I saw was darkness. All I saw was hurt and anguish and fear and confusion. And I had nothing. Nothing. I’m a pastor, I’m supposed to have something.
There is something very powerful in this level of transparency and honesty. It is a reminder of our human condition. There is a level of weakness we all have – even when we are supposed to have all the answers.
I admire the courage he has shown. Ernest Hemingway once said: “Courage is grace under pressure.” While most of us have not seen the private moments of Mr. Brandow – he has been a model of grace in the public eye. This type of courage is something for every man to aspire to.
I had the privilege of hearing Mr. Brandow speak at the National Prayer Breakfast in Ottawa. It was one of the most wonderful and powerful twenty minutes I have ever experienced. In a room packed with politicians, foreign dignitaries, political advisers, and leaders from business and faith – Sean Brandow clearly explained the Good News of Jesus Christ. He spoke about the need for all of us to have a heart transplant.
Last night, at the Humboldt Broncos first game of the season, he once again spoke about Jesus. This message was not only for the people in the room, but was also shared on SportsNet to millions of Canadians. Go to about the 3 minute and twenty second mark in this video:
Mr. Brandow has consistently, boldly and graciously pointed people to Jesus. We live in a time where most Christians in Canada seem afraid to talk about Jesus in public. We fear how people will push back or attack us. Sean Brandow has stared that fear in the face. Canadians are not angry about Jesus being part of the conversation. News agencies are playing his speeches without editing the parts about Jesus. It is quite incredible to witness.
Thankfully, most of us will never experience the same circumstances as Sean Brandow. His transparency, courage, and boldness is a great lesson to help all of us. Everyday we are around people who need Jesus. Imagine if we all pressed in to these opportunities in the same way.
I pray every person who has heard this message will have their life changed by God’s grace and mercy through Jesus.