It would be fair to say that not many adventures involving a karaoke machine have opened a door for a new job, especially a leadership position within a community of Christians.
But for recent FMU graduate Mike Brank, his path that began a few years ago on a stage at Baptist Collegiate Ministry’s weekly 153 worship service led him to just that.
“When I first came to FMU, I went and visited BCM,” Brank said. “I sang karaoke, and I left and never went back because I thought they were weird. Four years later, I’m up there singing on stage worshipping God. I don’t know what happened, but God showed up somewhere in my life and changed that.”
Brank is speaking about his recent commission by the North American Mission Board to work as a semester missionary at FMU for the local chapter of BCM. This organization is a ministry of the Southern Baptist Convention and an element of several levels of coordination funneling down to state and local branches.
Brank said that this missionary work was not expected.
“The whole thing was unexpected,” Brank said. “When I first started to interact with BCM, I had no idea where God would bring me.”
In an effort to get involved in the lives of those willing to hear about BCM and the teachings of Jesus Christ, an FMU semester missionary goes into the campus community to establish relationships with students and administration.
Following Brank’s stint as a karaoke amateur during his freshman year, he began to get involved with BCM. His musical talents ended up playing another role in his path.
By his sophomore year, he had become friends with a member of BCM’s 153 worship band and was invited to join as a guitarist when the 153 band attended a youth worship event called “Disciple Now.”
He eventually was called upon to become the worship leader for the 153 band, further cementing his active role within BCM.
After some of Brank’s friends urged him to consider becoming a semester missionary, Brank put in an application through the North American Mission Board. He received confirmation of a position but had to wait for his location assignment.
On Aug. 25, Brank was told that he could in fact work as the missionary at FMU.
“It was really exciting,” Brank said. “I got approved to do it but there was still a chance that I could be placed at another college in South Carolina, and I was OK with that. You are confirmed to be a missionary, then they give you an assignment.”
Brank has wasted no time in contributing to the outreach of BCM. He, along with a group of 20 student members of BCM, has already started a program called Core Groups at the university this year.
“Core Groups is more than just bible study once a week,” Brank said. “It’s, ‘Hey, I’m going to call you and see what’s going on throughout the week,’ because that’s when life happens—everyday—not just one day a week at 7.”
The goal of Core Groups is to encourage the student members to go out and spread the word about the program. This helps to develop an actual relationship between the BCM members and students.
This process provides an opportunity for students to practice being missionaries.
“We are all missionaries,” Brank said. “You don’t have to be assigned by a board. The idea of Core Groups is that after you leave 153 on Tuesday nights at 7, you will have people that you can turn to.”
Because only a few months ago Brank was preparing for final exams, he understands where students are coming from.
“Academically right now, I’m in that weird post-graduate limbo,” Brank said. “I thought about graduate school, but I really wanted to take a year off. Graduate school is still a possibility.”
After he graduated, his position as worship leader in the 153 band passed on to another student at FMU, since it is a purely student-led operation. However, he and his successor are also members in a non-affiliated band that calls themselves Late Night Revival.
Brank explained that Late Night Revival’s music deals with one’s relationship with God and life on an everyday basis.
“We have a lot of different influences – folk, acoustic and rock,” Brank said.
As far as where life is taking him at the moment, Brank said rather comfortably that he’s “not too worried about it.”
“I don’t have any immediate needs that would require me to make any drastic changes,” Brank said. “If God has brought me here and done all of this incredible stuff, I’m going to keep focusing on him and keep taking opportunities that come along…and I’ll end up exactly where I need to be.”
This self-titled “pretty simple dude” feels confident that if a karaoke event could put him where he is now, he is on the right path.