Healing an Orphan Spirit
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“Cops everywhere," Brandon recalled. “Neighbors everywhere, they were getting ready to put him in the car, and I was crying and said, ‘I want to hug my dad.’” Brandon Sanders was five when police took his father away. The two had always gotten along. “I loved my dad very much,” said Brandon. “I can remember my dad putting me in his lap, let me drive the car, steer the car as he was driving.”
Brandon’s mom received much different treatment. Brandon said, “I remember being behind the couch with my sisters, as my dad was beating my mom. I can remember thinking – will it stop?”
After his father was arrested, Brandon and his sisters were placed in foster care – Brandon felt abandoned by his real dad and God. “It was devastating. I would try to pray¸ ‘God help us. Save us.’ I thought something was seriously wrong with me, like, God did not love me,” Brandon recalled.
By his teen years, Brandon was running the streets. Driven by anger, he abused drugs and alcohol, committed petty crimes and was always getting into fights. He says, “On the inside, I just wanted people to like me but there were times I would fight; I would completely lose my mind, just had this rage that would come out of me.”
After one of several arrests, Brandon was sent to a juvenile psychiatric hospital for evaluation. Doctors said the now 15-year-old had PTSD and was homicidal. They sent him for counseling where he shared memories, memories he’d tried to suppress and the source of his anger and hatred for his dad. Brandon remembered, “My mother and father were getting a divorce. My mother had went on a date with a man and I was with her and my dad the next day, he had been working out of town. He asked me what has my mother been doing; I told him, and not long after that my mom pulled up with my baby sister in her hands and my dad met her in the driveway and that’s when he started hitting her. He is on top of her just beating her. I do remember a faint memory of being in this shelter and I remember someone telling us, ‘Your mother is dead.’ The newspapers reported that he killed her because of what I told him. That is when my anger toward my dad really started to generate."
Even after months of counseling, Brandon went right back to the streets, where he spent the next 16 years in a drug-induced daze, hustling for drug dealers and stealing to support his habit. He said, "When you are by yourself, you think about your life and your worth. I thought about suicide a lot. That life is just not worth living.”
Then, Brandon stole from the wrong person, a drug dealer who tracked him down, brutally beat him, and left him to die. “For a short amount of time, I got sober. When I relapsed I just lost all hope. I’m sick of being alive and I decided I was going to take my life,” said Brandon.
So, Brandon, 33 years old, checked into a dirty, rundown drug motel. He said, “I thought about my sisters, would they even miss me. I felt guilty for the abuse they went through and that I couldn’t protect them. Anger for myself, I am the one who told him what happened. I am the one who caused this.”
Then, Brandon turned his anger on God. “And I began to tell him, 'I hate you. You never gave me a life.' Everything started coming out, all the anger, my rage, beat and then, I remember all of a sudden, I’m starting to say, 'I’m sorry, I’m sorry.' Crying like a baby on the bathroom floor in a drug hotel. And I started begging God to save me and I heard the Lord say to me, ‘Now you are ready.’ I felt like somebody wrapped their arms around me and just held me. I fell asleep on the floor."
When Brandon woke up the next morning he said, “I felt peaceful. I opened the door and heard the birds for the first time in probably 15 years. I said, ‘Lord, I don’t know what to do or where to go, but I will follow you the rest of the days of my life if you lead me.’”
Three days later. Brandon boarded a Greyhound bus to Mobile, Alabama where he checked into a Christian rehabilitation center called, Wings of Life. He said, “I began to deal with the father wound, the orphan spirit that I had. Then I felt the Lord say, 'You are not an orphan, you are My son.' God is my father and He loves me.” After spending several years at Wings of Life, Brandon was ready to take the next step to complete healing: he forgave his father.
Brandon eventually married Carrie and after finishing Bible School at Wings of Life, he became its new director in 2021. Brandon said, “I was just this broken boy who needed a father, and that is what I was asking God to be. No preacher, no altar call, just me and God. A broken man with a broken life and a broken heart crying out, 'please save me, be my father, help me,' and He did."
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