Protect and Serve

Oftentimes, the Lord places us in positions we would have never imagined for ourselves. When Brad Green began his journey in life, he didn’t imagine where it would take him and the strength that would be required of him to protect and serve.

Born and raised in Southern California, Brad was a good kid who went to church with his mom and dad every Sunday. They would drop him off at kids’ church (a.k.a. Sunday school). Little Brad enjoyed it but he really didn’t give much thought to what they were teaching. “I believed in God but really didn’t think much about Him. One day they had a ventriloquist show about Jesus that gave a gospel message and an opportunity to receive Christ. I thought, Wow! If I accept Jesus, I can be forgiven, not go to Hell, and have eternal life? It sounded like a good idea to me so I did!”

So at seven years old, Brad Green asked Jesus into his heart and his eternal destination was changed forever. “I remember going to a nursery after church. My mom was looking for plants for the yard or something. Everything seemed different to me that day, and any time we would go into or drive by that nursery after that, I had a sense of joy.”

Brad’s childhood, including those ever-trying teen years, was quite uneventful. He never skipped school, never drank alcohol, didn’t smoke, never did drugs, listened to his teachers, was a good student, etc. Needless to say, his is not a story of bad to good. It’s a story of good to used, good to strengthened, good to solidified.

Brad started attending Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa in 1975 after his senior year in high school where he had been an all CIF Center—a true high school football star. Brad had always planned to go to college on a football scholarship, but says, “I wasn’t big enough to play Center at a four-year school so I went to Orange Coast College instead. I played at OCC for two seasons and did extremely well.” That’s when recruiters took notice and started approaching him in an attempt for Brad to join their school’s team.

He decided to accept a scholarship to Stanford University until late in the recruiting process. “I had been approached by a bunch of small schools so when the coach called me in his office as I was walking by I expected to turn a deaf ear. Then a coach who I had never seen before said to me, ‘I’m Hudson Houck. I’m the offensive line coach for the University of Southern California.'” Brad’s ears perked up a bit and he listened. Hudson then held out his hand, upon which resided a Rose Bowl ring and proceeded to say, “Do you want one of these?” Brad answered in the affirmative and ended up playing three seasons (’77, ’78, and ’79) as a Center on USC’s football team. He graduated from USC in 1980 with a bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and returned to USC for a master’s in Systems Management in 1985.

Brad’s brother introduced him to Terri the summer after his first semester at USC. “I thought she was beautiful so I asked her out and we started dating.” Brad and Terri dated three years before getting married in 1980 at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

In 1990, Brad became a Newport Beach police officer. “I didn’t sense any special calling or anything. I just needed a job and wanted one with a good retirement plan. I knew they would hire me because of my football background and education so I applied and got hired.”

Until he got married, Brad had lived a drama-free life; but that was about to change. Four years after he and Terri got married, their daughter Kara was born in 1984. “We didn’t get to hold our first-born-daughter in our arms. They whisked her away to Sharp Hospital in San Diego, where she had her first heart operation. Days later we were told she was deaf, blind, and would be mentally handicapped.” Diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, the doctors recommended that Brad and Terri institutionalize their daughter but they refused. “This was the first time I had ever gone through anything so difficult. There was nothing I could do to protect Kara from the painful surgeries that would be in her future. I couldn’t understand why God would let this happen to us. I have to admit that I was mad at Him.”

When Terri got pregnant four years later, Brad thought, “Now’s our chance to have a normal newborn experience. We’ll get to hold and care for our baby.” Needless to say, Brad and Terri were devastated when their second daughter, Tayler, was born with a different life-threatening condition. Tayler had malrotation of the intestine, which resulted in half of her small intestine having died in utero. She was whisked away and operated on several days later. “This time the news from the doctors was even worse than it was with Kara because they told us she probably wouldn’t survive. We were shattered that this could happen to us a second time. I felt helpless that there was nothing I could do to protect my wife and new child. I was angry at God and again wondered what I did to deserve all this.”

We don’t often know why the Lord allows difficulties in our lives, especially if we’ve grown up in a good home living a good, obedient life. We may feel blindsided and become angry with God, but we can hold on to the truth that He loves us beyond all measure.

Paige was born three years after Tayler without complications. “We finally got to hold our newborn baby in our arms. And we got to take her home with us; we didn’t leave the hospital empty-handed.

Today Kara, now an adult, remains severely handicapped, but is usually a happy girl who has brought great joy to Brad and Terri’s lives. God spared Tayler’s life and, although she does have residual health issues, she was high school prom queen, and is a beautiful young woman who loves the Lord and is a gifted dancer and vocalist. Paige, their youngest, is a CSI agent for the Long Beach Police Department and has recently made Brad and Terri new grandparents.

Brad’s favorite Bible verse is Matthew 6:33, which says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” God knows what we need and is faithful to give us what we need when we need it. It may not come in the package we desire, wrapped up all nice with a big, shiny bow, but it will be the exact thing we need at the exact time we need it.

As a Newport Beach Police Officer, Brad was assigned to work at Christopher Laurie’s memorial service; that was the first time he went to Harvest in Riverside. Brad’s call to ministry had started a year earlier. He recalls walking by his Captain’s office, who called Brad in and told him he should be a police chaplain. “You have be ordained to be a chaplain and I’m not ordained,” Brad replied.

Captain Tom Gazsi sat in silence for a few minutes and told Brad, “Wait right here.” Then Captain Gazsi made a phone call and approached Brad and stated, “Okay, so Dave Rolph, pastor of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills will ordain you.” So, completely unplanned and unexpected, in 2007 Brad began serving as a police chaplain.

In 2012, Brad retired from the Newport Beach Police Department and began volunteering at Harvest Orange County. He started in Security, and was involved in the Basics Ministry for new believers, the Prayer & Share Counseling Ministry, as well as the offering counting team. In 2013, Brad became a Ministry Assistant. “About six months later they made me an associate pastor. I was walking by Pastor Mike’s office (a lot seems to happen to me when I am walking by offices), and he asked me if I had seen this week’s bulletin. He showed it to me and my picture was on the back with the title associate pastor beneath my name. That was it, no official meeting or anything.”

In thinking of the events of his life, Brad said, “It is not lost on me that my life has had a theme. Whether it was blocking for a running back, patrolling the streets, or counseling others at the church, protecting others seems to be the calling of my life.”

You never know what turns God might have you take as you’re passing by during a routine walk on a path you’ve walked for a while. More often than not, the Lord uses us in ways we would have never imagined, changing our direction and solidifying the protection He died to provide; isn’t that what we all crave? This is how He uses Pastor Brad Green, to give those whom the Lord allows him to counsel protection and strength through God’s Word.

“God didn’t call me to be famous after football, but to be average for Him. Every job I have had since then I have been adequate for. This, ‘averageness’ is who God has called me to be, and I’m content in that.”