Weeding Out Sins, 1 John 1:5:2-2:2 Good morning, When we ignore or deny its presence, sin can invade our lives like unwanted overgrowth and darken our personal space. Our sinless…
From August 1998 until the present, God used him to alter the direction of our lives and the body of Christ in Riverside, surrounding cities, and even some Christians around the world. Prior to his arrival, my mother had been searching diligently for a stable home church to do the work of the Lord. However, there were no sound churches to be found. They either were not bible believing churches, or they didn’t teach the scriptures accurately. In addition, most of them did not have a true reverence for God.
Until the time Bryan arrived we didn’t know of, or was taught about the gospel. The church my mother had been looking for was not only found, but now it was now conducting services in her very own living room. With hammer and nails, Bryan pinned his old white banner that read “Tree of Life International Church and Ministries, The Power is Increasing!” on the garage door of our home, (Initially he offended my mother and a few others) but nevertheless, through his offense he procured the new chapter of his ministry and his walk with Christ. We watched him do many peculiar things, and over time we got to know him. It was very evident that he was a very patient, stern, wise, God fearing man who was all about the Lord’s business.
Though my mother was also about God’s work, she was a bit caught off guard, and would frequently talk to us about the woes of having a church in her home. Nevertheless, it was only a matter of time before her focus was in alignment, and she began to love the work of ministry. As the church became settled and routines were accepted, My mother began reaching out to strangers.
On the evening of October 1998, Sandra met a young Cocopah Indian lady named, Starra Jackson. She was an alcoholic and suicidal. Sandra asked her why she was out standing by a phone booth? She replied, “I don’t want to be bothered.” However, my mother was persistent and convinced her to get in the car with her. Sandra took her home.
Afterwards, my mother scolded her, and told her not to be out “in the streets because it’s not safe, and you don’t want to end up raped and in the bushes.” Sandra exchanged phone numbers with her and invited her to bible study. The following day Starra called Sandra to get a ride, and my mother picked her up and brought her to the bible study. After sitting through the entire bible study while hungover, Starra met Bryan. He pleasantly greeted and received her and took her in as his daughter. Bryan ministered the gospel to her and loved her. Starra was convinced that she had come in contact with Jesus and she was baptized and remained a faithful sister in the ministry until her passing on Jan 21, 2004. Starra had 3 children, of which Sandra took in as her children, and raised to young adulthood upon her passing.
During the time that Starra was associated with the ministry, she evangelized and invited many people to the church. One particular individual was Edwin “Skip” McCoy. He was a man that had great grace bestowed upon him. He had a past of drugs and illegal activity. And while he was living in his sinful lifestyle, he was shot in the head, rolled up in an area rug, and thrown out of a multiple story condominium building near downtown Long Beach, California. Surprisingly, he lived through the ordeal, but after waking out of a 3-month coma, he was a quadriplegic that was unable to speak or move at all for the first few months. The doctors thought he would just be a “vegetable” for the rest of his life and suggested he be taken off of life support a number of times. However, his father was a God fearing man. And he, and his family refused to give up hope and continued praying for Skip to pull through. To the surprise of the doctors and the press, Skip came out of the coma, began to speak, and was able to move and use all of his upper body. Skip began contemplating the reality of Jesus Christ and would unashamedly discuss the topic with his acquaintances. Starra lived near Skip and told him about Tree of Life International and what God had done for her. Skip was curious so Starra notified Bryan.
Bryan personally picked up Skip to bring him to bible study in October of 1998. He was very skeptical and did not believe a legitimate church could be in a house. However, this did not bother Bryan, and he told Skip to “give it all he’s got.” Come with all of your questions and doubt.” As Skip continued to attend bible study, he also continued to be drawn by God, and in a few weeks, Skip received the gospel that Bryan preached and taught. God convinced Skip that the fellowship was legitimate, and Skip continued with Tree of Life International for nearly 10 years until he relocated to his father’s home in Arizona. After making peace with his earthly father, he went on to be with the Lord. There are other stories of how God used Bryan to minister the gospel that changed people’s lives.
Prior to Tree of life International, we had been exposed to many different teachings from different churches which resulted in a watered down, sugar coated truth. We had to be delivered from many superstitions and false doctrines. Bryan was a blessing in disguise because our past of being exposed to many demonic, religious lies allowed God’s truth to be clear when it was preached and taught to us.
So, as Bryan ministered the gospel, it was very clear that everything he preached and taught was real uncompromised truth. He preached a reality that we had not heard before. Bryan had our full and undivided attention. Some of the topics that he preached to us was, the gospel, redemption, reconciliation, Jesus a man, hell, the forgiveness of sin, and the deception of perversion. He also discussed things that we considered “taboo” in the church such as gay and lesbian relationships and practices. He also discussed issues like, “perversion in heterosexual relationships.” During his very first message, the fear of the Lord came on the entire household.
Though we were young at the beginning of Bryan’s ministry in Riverside, we grew up to realize that he was ministering “the pearl of great price,” the kingdom of God, and eternal life through faith in the gospel! All things that he taught were directly from the word of God and not his own head knowledge.
While in Riverside, Bryan allowed no room for any ministry decisions to derive from the flesh. He solely depended on the Lord for all things concerning the ministry. He never compromised. He truly displayed being a man after God’s heart as he aimed to lead a church without spot and wrinkle.
Bryan maintained a personal hand in all things at Tree of Life International. He left no room for infiltration or corruption of the devil. He practiced repetition in all ministry functions such as, praise and worship, scripture reading, and gospel training. In doing this, praise and worship songs, psalms and gospel scriptures resonated in the hearts of the faithful congregation.
This man, called, appointed and anointed by God built Tree of life International from the ground up. He planted seeds throughout the city; street corners, bus stops and homeless shelters. Bryan published the power of God to every demographic of people. To this day, Bryan has planted seeds all over the world and created deep roots in the people God sent him to minister to. He casted out demons by the Spirit of God. We know this because those who had demons casted out of them changed and became a different person.
Bryan always helped people in need. He visited the sick, and we took in strangers in our house. He did none of it for his own glory, but for the glory of God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
From when we first got to know him until this present day, he has continued to walk by faith, and not by sight. He is not a perfect man and made mistakes. Though he had some stressful times, he faithfully served us at Tree of Life International. He consistently ministered to God’s people in the Riverside area for 2 decades. He never complained or murmured while he was in his wilderness. He remained steadfast in the hope of Jesus Christ, fervent in spirit, and reliant on God alone. We witnessed him cast out fear and remove all hesitation. He expelled all “if’s” and “but’s”. He remains a humble leader, meek and lowly in heart.
Bryan’s faith certainly remained backed by works in every area of ministry. From 6 to 12 hour prayer shut-ins, weekly fasts, prayer, bible study, men and women’s ministry outreach, and distributing food and clothing. From simple church dinners to morning sports events, Bryan surely abided in faith and love.
Outside of ministry, Bryan is a family-oriented man. Immediately he embraced Sandra’s 4 fatherless children as his own. Bryan soon became not only the family’s minister, but a true father and big brother. He attended open house at school, pre-prom events, graduations, sports events, picnics, and many family activities. Not only did he bring ministry to a household, but he brought love in abundance to a family that needed it most. Bryan even assisted my mother in obtaining her associates of science, bachelor’s, and master’s degrees in Social Work.
He carried several roles and commitments throughout the years, Bryan never lost sight of the vision for his ministry. He even drove commercial trucks to help pay for church and family living expenses. His motives have never changed and even throughout the growth of his ministry the vision never involved gaining a “mega church.” He never spoke of having millions of followers, but solely to be a body of godly and sincere believers in the gospel, a church without spot and wrinkle.
However, in a turn of events immediately following the onset of Tree of Life International’s second season of ministry, my mother was diagnosed with cancer. Bryan left his driving job to become her full-time caregiver. On Friday, February 17, 2017 Sandra Reed received her ticket to eternity, and entered the presence of the Lord. Even though this testimony has been concerning the ministry of Bryan Bonner, Sandra Reed played a tremendous part in the ministry, and provided a major contribution and fulfilled her role as a sister, best friend and ministry partner in her labor of love, and work in the kingdom of God. She was, and is truly loved and appreciated by us, and many of God’s people, family members, relatives, friends and strangers.
It is Bryan’s ultimate aim is to please God in every way possible. His desire is to revive the body of Christ through the power of God and prepare the end time church for the second coming of Jesus Christ. In his obedience to God, the vision was written down and made plain, allowing him to run with it wherever the Spirit of God leads.
As Bryan continue preaching and teaching the gospel around the world, the Spirit of God increases, even as he continues winning souls for the kingdom of God.