My name is Brent Tyler, and I am taking online Bible courses at the Christian Leaders Institute (Learn more about online Bible courses, Click Here). Originally from Riverside, California, I currently reside in Portland, Oregon.
I graduated from Full Sail University with an Associate of Science in Music Production, expecting that it would just be a “hobby.” Little did I know, God put me through that program. Not only did it lead to my salvation, but I utilize almost everything I learned in that program serving in the church.
The Pacific Northwest is one of the most unchurched areas in the United States. Portland, Oregon, is full of hippies, druggies, far-left/far-right protests, social justice, and homelessness. It also happens to be one of the top cities in the country for the number of strip clubs per capita. Being a Christian in Portland is like finding a silver dollar face up on the ground – it doesn’t happen very often.
Growing up, I did things opposite of the Christian walk. I experienced many, many traumatic things in my childhood that led to issues internally. Therefore, I went down an intense, dark path to destruction. I was the school punching bag, assaulted by other kids and my earthly dad. Through all that, I have a mom who battled her own demons. Whether working sixty-plus hours to provide for my little brother and me or dealing with a mental health crisis, I spent most of my time alone. We were always moving, and I was constantly changing schools, so building friendships was difficult. There was a time when I went to Faith Community Church in Glendora, California, as a kid. I only went to watch worship and play on the computers after service. At ten years old, those two things were the highlight for me.
When I hit my teenage years, I struggled even more. Getting abused by my earthly dad and other kids at school, I found it difficult to cope. Instead of looking to God, I attempted to end my life multiple times. From sixteen to eighteen, I was in the hospital fourteen times for attempting suicide. They put me into two dual diagnosis rehabilitation centers. There, I learned how to do drugs, where to get them, and how to hide them – as a teenager.
My path got darker when I started dabbling in the occult. On drugs, dabbling in the occult, in and out of hospitals, my family reached a breaking point. They kicked me out at seventeen. Despite me doing drugs and getting into trouble, I graduated high school six months early. All of this led to me spending a total of six and a half years homeless as an adult.
For a time, I went to Calvary Chapel. Every time there was an altar call, I went forward. Just a kid, I liked the attention. As a kid, I didn’t really understand the concept of giving my life to the Lord. I didn’t grow up in a Christian household, had a druggie earthly dad, and a mentally ill mom. The best support system I had in place was my grandparents, who also are not Christian. I liked the attention I got at those altar calls, so I kept going up. I received a Bible from Calvary Chapel that I hung on to for nearly seventeen years through all the occult, homelessness, everything. Even though I didn’t have a reason, I hung on to it. However, knowing what I know now, the Lord had a reason!
Everything in my life pointed in the direction of me surrendering to my pride. Even as a homeless man living on the streets, I was too good to take help from others. I didn’t want the help – until my life was so bad and so dark that I finally decided to ask for help. So, I went to a place called the Hawthorne walk-in center in Hillsboro, Oregon. It is a place that has resources for those in crisis, including mental health services and homeless services. I got a list of food pantries, and as I was scouring over them, I saw church after church. Every time I saw a church name, I said to myself, “Nope, nope, nope!!” I went to the only non-church pantry and got a can of cranberry sauce and a can of green beans. They told me, “Okay, you can come back in a month.”
So, I had no money and two cans of food that wouldn’t keep me full. The next day, I looked at the cans in my hand. I didn’t even have a can opener. Hopeless and angry at God for my circumstances, I caved. I grabbed the list again and found the next food pantry open. Terrified after being told by people in the church that I would go to hell, I thought, “I’m about to be murdered and buried in their garden out back.”
Finding Salvation in Christ
However, when I walked in, an older woman named Donna gave me a paper to fill out. As I looked over the paper, I come to a part where I saw a question that made my heart sink into my body. My fears completely overwhelmed me. But I didn’t run. I marked the paper accordingly and waited my turn. Naida, a very tender, loving woman who took me shopping. She was the one who got me to come to church that Sunday. I asked her, “How do people in this church feel about those who are different than they are?” She responded, “We love them.”
That was the beginning for me. Over the next three years, I remained homeless. But, I started Full Sail University. Then, I ended up getting sick and almost dying from pneumonia. God became real when my O2 saturation was 63, my blood pressure was 74/36, and my pulse was 39. Admitted into Kaiser West Side Hospital in Hillsboro, Oregon, I had pneumonia in all three lobes of my lung. The doctor who treated me told me as I was in and out of consciousness that I would not have made it if I had waited one more day. This experience made me realize I needed to change.
Ultimately, almost dying was the catalyst to my getting off the street. I knew I was going to die if I didn’t start caring about myself. After I met my current girlfriend, who is a Pastor, I found Christ. I didn’t realize that Jesus died for me. I was used to twenty-minute sermons that didn’t touch on doctrine or theology. It wasn’t until June 20, 2020, that I dedicated my life to the Lord. I was baptized and gave my life to the Lord.
Learning More with Online Bible Courses at CLI
As someone who is already seventy thousand dollars in debt, I cannot afford to pay for more schooling. I am hungry for more and more and more knowledge about God and the Bible. As a servant of Jesus Christ, I am also a minister. I am saved by grace through faith and a Child of God. Finding the Christian Leaders Institute with free online Bible courses is a huge blessing for me. Thank you, CLI, for the opportunity to become more engaged in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.