Zach Brantley: Sincere Service with a Humble Heart
by Hailey Bryant, Journalist Intern
Lipscomb University is home to a group of incredibly inspiring, service dedicated individuals. Even so, Senior Bible major Zach Brantley manages to stand out with his unyielding passion for missions and his efforts to change the world around him. This past summer, Zach spent nearly three months interning in Brisbane, Australia, as well as participating as a student leader of Lipscomb’s Brisbane mission trip.
When the time came for Zach to make his decision of where to serve this past summer, he was quite torn. Having served in Brisbane in the summer of 2011 on the mission team, he knew that returning was an option; however, he felt as though maybe he could have a greater impact elsewhere. After discussing different summer opportunities with a friend, he decided that the Dominican Republic was the perfect fit, saying, “I felt really good about it. I knew that this was where I was going to be.” However, God soon revealed a very different plan for Zach’s summer.
Around October of last year, Brantley was very confident in his decision to not return to Brisbane for a second summer, but one fateful night while worshipping at Sanctuary, he found himself questioning everything. He explains, “I was sitting there praying for God to give me a sign, and, suddenly, I just started seeing all of the faces of the families I had met in Brisbane last summer. It was then that I realized just how much I’d come to love these people.” Instantly, he felt a shift in his heart as he made the decision to return to the one place that he thought had been crossed off his list. He vowed to make this second venture more fulfilling than the first, explaining that he remembers telling himself, “I refuse to go back to Brisbane and not have a positive impact on the people.”
Upon his return, he found himself involved with several organizations, including Redland’s College, a K-12 school in the area. Mike Shepherd, the school’s Chaplain, expresses his gratitude for the time that Zach devoted to his school, saying, “Zach was a joy to be around! He was very outgoing and connected well with our students. His attitude towards life and living was infectious.” Such a warm sentiment is expressed by just about anyone with whom he interacted, undeniable proof that he did, indeed, have a positive impact on the people in the community.
Brantley’s summer service endeavors did not end at the local school, as he interned under the oversight of the Holland Park Church of Christ as well. Lindsey Leijen, a Holland Park church member who closely worked with Brantley, commended his sincerity in forming meaningful relationships with those around him, explaining, “Zach has a wonderful gift of making those around him feel at ease and an awareness, wisdom, and insight beyond his years.” Sometimes, the biggest impact lied within the most insignificant moments, for example, just having a cup of coffee with a local who wanted to hear about God. Brantley realized the potential for change in these small moments, and made each one count, as he desired true connection with anyone who was willing to make conversation.
Brantley’s Australian host mom, Gwen Edginton, has spent a great deal of time getting to know Brantley throughout his two summers in Australia. Calling him a “true servant of God in the making,” she speaks highly of Brantley’s character, saying, “He is not perfect, but he is striving each day to be more like Jesus, what an example he is, he is a man who stands alone.” Edginton goes on to explain that he is always striving to “step outside the box so that he may reach those who otherwise could not be reached.” Brantley’s unpretentious personality and passion for others are just some of the innumerable gifts he has to offer the world.
All in all, it seems that Zach Brantley did exactly what he set out to do during his time in Brisbane: to have a positive impact on the people. He calls the entire experience humbling, saying, “It was a sobering summer for me. It wasn’t a mountain top experience. Through that, I learned to ask: If the kingdom is real, how does it change my life and that of others’?” When asked if he has plans to return to the place where he spent the last two summers, he replies without pause, “For sure. I have to go back, not out of obligation, but because I left part of my heart in Brisbane.”