When God wants your attention, He’ll command it. That was certainly the case for Brandon Mannon (in the green shirt, pictured above), whose life did a 180 exactly one year ago after the Lord brought him to a place of acute awareness of his mortality and recognition of his need for salvation.

Brandon, a member of Fellowship’s Cabot Campus along with his wife Sarah and daughter Emmalyn, grew up a military brat. “I didn’t have a place in particular that I called home. It was wherever the military sent us.”

Growing up on bases around the world was, as one could imagine, filled with both unique experiences and hardships. On the one hand, Brandon got to live abroad in places like Puerto Rico and England, getting to visit culturally significant sights such as England’s breathtaking historic churches and cathedrals. Too, due to moving every two years, he learned how to quickly assimilate and adapt to new surroundings. On the other hand, though, he witnessed and went through heartbreaking circumstances that are hard for civilians to imagine.

“I grew up on a base during a time of war where there’s a, it’s called a casualty notification vehicle. It’s just a regular vehicle that’s on the base. But it has a white top. And anyone that drives that vehicle is going to go notify someone on base, that someone they love has either been injured or killed.” Every time he saw that white-top truck drive by, he would think, “please God, not my house. Please God, not my house.” Brandon says that experience taught him “to respect and love those that sign that blank check for, you know, giving their life for you to have the ability to do whatever you want to do. Because there’s not very many places like the U.S. …”

The worst moments were when his dad would receive the notification that he was being deployed. “We were at dinner a couple times, and dad would literally take off his wedding ring and take off all of the stuff and hand it to Mom and then have to go. ‘Cause it’s not one of those things, you know, you don’t know where they’re going, but where they’re going, it’s not a good place. So, and he can’t take anything like that with him.”

On top of the difficulties of living as a military family, there was an instance of church hurt in Brandon’s childhood that would affect his spiritual life for the next two decades.

At the Puerto Rico base, both Brandon and his parents experienced exclusion because of his father’s rank in the military. Brandon said some of the kids had cliques, where he was not welcome, and it left a sour taste in his mouth regarding church and church goers. “So it kind of, like, pushed me away,” Brandon recalls. Prior to last year, Brandon says it had been “over 20 years since I had willingly set foot in a church. I had been for like, holidays and whatnot. Like Christmas service or Easter service, and you know, I was forced to go, I didn’t want to be there.”

As a result, he said, “I just continued on in life, just kind of doing whatever I wanted to do.”

Brandon explained that he had “a very cynical outlook on life in a lot of ways,” and that in the past, “I was I was not the easiest person to be around. Like the person you see now is not the person that I was, you know, a year and a half ago. … I’ve never been one to just be rude to random people, but, you know, cross me and look at me the wrong way — yeah. Like I just wasn’t the nicest of people. But I would, you know, still help the old lady get to her car or whatever the case was. …but I just, I was very quick to rage and very quick to anger, you know, it was just, that was just who I was.”

Brandon said the extent of his communication with the Lord during that period of his life was basically just anytime he found himself in a bind and needed something. “If it was one of those, you know, ‘this is a scary situation,’ ask God for whatever I needed to ask Him for, and then forget about it five minutes later.”

He went on to be a mechanic, a husband, and a father, and life continued on as normal.

That is, until May 6, 2023.

Brandon’s blood pressure randomly spiked that day. It shook him up quite a bit. Then, he had another episode on May 12. He said he felt like he was going to have a stroke — his blood pressure this time skyrocketed to 220 over 170. He waited five hours in the ER with that sustained blood pressure. The doctors ran the gamut of tests on him, and everything came out fine. They said, “‘We don’t know what caused this. But you’re fine.’ And I’m like, ‘These are not the answers I’m looking for. Like, I know something was wrong. And I don’t know what it was, and you don’t know what it was.’ So that’s like what prompted me to be like, okay, ‘I know I’m going to die… so, I’m just gonna get right.’” Brandon said their best guess ended up being that he had experienced panic attacks, but regardless — this had commanded his attention, and he knew he needed to meet with God.

So, he began looking for churches. The first one he tried wasn’t open. As he was passing by the second church he was considering, something inside him didn’t feel good about it, so he just moved on. The third was Fellowship Cabot.

When he walked in, he saw Cabot Kids’ Pastor Greg Summers. He said, “‘hey, I’m looking for a pastor,’ and he’s like ‘hey, look no further. I’m a pastor.’” Brandon broke down in tears. The two talked for about forty five minutes. Brandon told Greg, “I’m pretty sure I’m on my way out. I’m just basically trying to save myself. And he’s like, ‘well, in the event that you’re not on your way out, why don’t we do this? We continue talking, you continue coming here.’”

It would take two more weekday visits before Brandon would attend a Sunday service. He went back a week after his interaction with Greg. Cabot Adult Discipleship Pastor Tyler Vance saw Brandon at the door and let him in, and he went into the Worship Center just to sit by himself for a bit. There, he broke down again. Cabot Campus Pastor Jason Beams walked through the Worship Center, saw Brandon, and sat by him. “He just sits down next to me and goes, ‘hey, you look troubled. How can I help?’” The two talked and prayed, and then Brandon left for work.

He returned the next Friday to find Cabot Student Pastor Alan Greenwood in the parking lot trying to fix a van that had died that was supposed to take the Cabot students to an Arkansas Traveler’s game. Being a mechanic, Brandon offered to help. “And he kinda could tell something wasn’t right.” So the pair went inside and talked for a bit. Alan told him, “you need me? Just reach out.”

That third interaction was the final push that he needed, and Brandon and his family attended church the following Sunday. Fellowship was in its “Playlist” sermon series on the Psalms at the time, and the passage for that day was Psalm 6, taught by Jason.


1Lord, rebuke me not in your anger,
    nor discipline me in your wrath.
Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing;
    heal me, O Lord, for my bones are troubled.
My soul also is greatly troubled.
    But you, O Lord—how long?
Turn, O Lord, deliver my life;
    save me for the sake of your steadfast love.
For in death there is no remembrance of you;
    in Sheol who will give you praise?
I am weary with my moaning;
    every night I flood my bed with tears;
    I drench my couch with my weeping.
My eye wastes away because of grief;
    it grows weak because of all my foes.
Depart from me, all you workers of evil,
    for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.
The Lord has heard my plea;
    the Lord accepts my prayer.
10 All my enemies shall be ashamed and greatly troubled;
    they shall turn back and be put to shame in a moment.

Brandon said that Psalm described exactly what he was walking through. “I am just yet again a blubbering fool, trying my best, to just keep it together and at the very least not make noise to disrupt the service.”

He approached Jason afterward and asked if that message and passage had been chosen for him, since they had had an interaction recently about what Brandon was going through. Jason answered that actually, due to the teaching planning schedule, that passage had been chosen a year prior. “And he was like, ‘so I have a question for you. Are you a believer?’ And I literally said, ‘Well, I kinda gotta be now!’” He said that Psalm Six being read that day was like God saying, “‘Hey, I’m talking to you in particular. It’s not: ‘to whom it may concern.’ It’s: ‘I’m talking to you.’”

Brandon also pointed out the significance to him of the numerical facts of his interactions: his initial visit was on the third day of the week. It was the third church he’d considered. He ended up having profound encounters with three of Cabot’s pastors. And, he was 33 years old when he visited. He didn’t initially know the significance of those numbers in the Christian faith, but over time, he learned, and it blew him away. To him, it was further evidence of God’s sovereignty. Also, since May of 2023, Brandon has not had any more health scares or panic attacks.

All of this came as a much-welcomed blessing to Brandon’s wife Sarah, who’d told Greg on the Sunday of their first visit that she had been praying for years for him to want to go to church.

At the encouragement of Teaching Pastor Justin Bilson, Brandon has been faithfully sharing his testimony in a variety of platforms over the past several months, such as Navigate: Men’s Gathering, as well as all three of Cabot’s Christmas Eve services.

“People that know me know I’m different. People who have known me for years, they have said on more than one [occasion] like, ‘dude, you’re not the same person.’ I’m like, ‘would you be?’”