Category Archives: God’s will – the best place to be is right in the middle of it

Crisman ministry transition FAQs

Hey everybody,

Because of the nature and length of our ministry transition there seems to be some confusion.  Not bad confusion, just general confusion.  Have we moved yet?  When are we gonna move?  Will we live in Africa? Stuff like that.  So, I thought it might be a good idea to put together a little FAQ post.  It may not be the only one.  As questions arise I will answer them on this site so that others with the same questions can get answers.  I will also maintain a full FAQ page in the top of the page links. If you have any questions or are interested in supporting us email me at


1. Have you moved yet?

No. We are still in Cape Girardeau until (see number 2). We sold our house in just three weeks and moved into Lynwood’s mission house. Therein lies the confusion.

 2. When will you move?

The simple answer is that we will move when our monthly sponsorship commitment equals our monthly financial need as we will be fully self-supporting missionaries. However, we sense the need to move in late May or early June for several reasons. We are working on that timeline and trusting God to provide. As He has called us to this ministry, we believe God will move in the hearts of His people to supply our needs through monthly giving.

 3. What determines when you move?

Again, the final determining factor will be our monthly support commitment.

4. What if I can’t give much?

We are not looking for just a few “big donors.” We are praying for God to give us many team members so each monthly gift of any size makes a huge difference. If everyone who received a letter gave just $25 per month we would already have more than our monthly need. Also, there are several ways to partner with us. We need prayer partners who will walk with us through this ministry. The Commitment Card can also be used to join our prayer team and to sign up to receive updates from us.

 5. How can I give to your ministry?

There are two ways to give:

1) The most economical and convenient way to give is through monthly automatic debit – you can fill out and submit the  the Commitment Card and ACH Debit Authorization Form by sending them to the address below, emailing them to, or calling Amy Bishop at 850-678-9008.

2) You can send a check made out to Heart of the Bride with a note designating your gift to Crisman Support to

Heart of the Bride
P.O. Box 786
Niceville, FL 32588

6. If I feel led to give when would giving start?

Anytime. When you send in your commitment a member of the Heart of the Bride staff will contact you to discuss that. If you call to set up your commitment then the process goes a little faster. You can begin giving now or when we officially transition to Heart of the Bride. All gifts given now go into our support account to help us move and get set up in Florida.

7. Will you live in Africa?

No. We will live in the northwest Florida near the Heart of the Bride home office in Niceville, FL. Brian will travel from there to the various Heart of the Bride ministries throughout the world.

 8. What is that scary statement at the bottom of your support letters?

For contributions to our support to be tax deductible the IRS requires that Heart of the Bride be in control of the funds. That statement reflects Heart of the Bride’s compliance with the IRS.   All funds donated in our name will go into our support account.

All documents you would need to join our support team as well as instructions on submitting them can be found here. 

More information about Heart of the Bride, including a statement of faith, foundational values, and information on individual ministries, can be found at


the adventure continues…

the big picture

Sonya and I have always referred to seeking God’s will and surrendering our lives to it as “this crazy adventure of following God.”  So far, it’s led us from Mobile, AL to Louisville, KY, through Little Rock, back to Alabama, and then totally out of the South to the Midwest in Cape Girardeau, MO.  In each step God has stretched and grown us.  I started out as a church orchestra director, became a Music Associate, and landed as the head cheese of Worship Ministries (possibly a new title for churches to consider?).  And now, the adventure continues.  But this time, it mostly likely will be our last big change.  The final adventure?  We don’t know for sure, but that’s our commitment.

For many years we’ve felt that we would end up in some ministry with Heart of the Bride.  And that is exactly what God is calling us to.  Heart of the Bride was founded by Sonya’s brother and sister-in-law (Tony and Faith Gibson) 14 years ago.  If you’re not familiar with it then please follow the link and get a sense of the scope of this ministry.  To say “orphan care” just doesn’t do it justice.  God has grown them into many more avenues than that.  It’s not surprising, need is everywhere.

Though we thought it was many years away, it wasn’t a total shock to us when Tony called us in September of 2013 to ask us to consider a position with HOB, though what he was asking may have been.  We’ve always imagined ourselves in Kenya as a missionary family, or at least some place like that where HOB is working.  But in the past few years our church has partnered with an HOB ministry in Kenya and our hearts are filled with a longing to be there (and perhaps swayed by a little boy we desperately want to bring back as a part of our family).  Maybe one day that will happen but right now the assignment is different.  Heart of the Bride is growing and there are many opportunities to continue growing.  Not just in size but in scope.  New roads to explore and people to touch.  It has reached a point that growth will not happen unless HOB gets more help.  More people.  More resources.  More US partners.  Well, we can help with one of those needs.  What Tony asked us to pray about was this: me coming on staff with HOB to help him do what he does.  To represent HOB around the US and the world.  To help develop and maintain partnerships.  And, more specifically, to develop and oversee the discipleship efforts of HOB around the world.  Heart of the Bride is driven by two huge biblical mandates: to help widows and orphans in their need (James 1:27) and to make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20).

We feel that this next step in our adventure has grown out of two areas of our lives: 1) our growing passion for the rescue and care of orphans and widows through HOB, and 2) the key verse and passion of our worship ministry:

…those who seek the Lord will praise Him…

Psalm 22:26b

When God opened this verse up to us in 2006 it really changed the way we approached worship ministry.  No longer did we feel called to “charge” people up to sing.  We realized that we were called to lead people to seek God.  If we really wanted people to worship the Lord, then we had to lead them to know Him.  People who truly love God, who seek Him with all of their hearts, will gather and praise Him.  So, we began to pray and lead in that direction. From that has grown a passion for discipleship, both group and one-on-one.  And we have put it to practice.  Even gone through training with Downline Ministries out of Memphis, not knowing how God would ultimately put that to use.

And so, there it is.  I will be developing and overseeing the discipleship efforts of orphans in Kenya, Haiti, Zambia, Ukraine and India, street kids in Zambia, a boys school in Haiti, and all of the college students receiving HOB scholarships around the world.  And who knows what else is to come.  It’s a huge task and I don’t even feel up to it.  But God has called us and we will trust that He will provide everything, even the ability to accomplish His calling.

There is so much more to share about our journey from September to now – fasting and praying, our kids fasting and praying, how our kids have grown so much spiritually through the seeking, family circumstances that have spoken so clearly – but this post has to end some time and I’m sure you have things to do.  So, let me answer the big questions.


so, what does this mean for the Crisman family

When we are ready, we will move to the Niceville, Florida area where the Heart of the Bride home office is located.  I will work in the home office and travel to the various ministries around the world from there.  It is very different from what we thought God would ask us to do (having always imagined we would be on a foreign mission field together one day) and asks different sacrifices of us.  I will be traveling and Sonya will be home with our family.  We feel like this is a lifelong commitment.  We have grieved over stepping out of full time worship ministry, our heart’s greatest passion now for 20+ years. But we have all prayed about this and feel that it is what God wants us to do.  He is giving us a new calling and new passion, so, we accept our calling and we will go.

When we go is up to God.  We have to sell our home here in Cape Girardeau and raise all of our support.  There is no time table on this.  When our home is sold and God has provided commitment for all of our support, we will go.


how can you help?

Pray.  Please, pray.  Transitions like this are always hard.  This will be the hardest.  Our kids are older and more connected.  We feel at home in Cape Girardeau. We love our church and we love our pastor.  We have good friends and a ministry we love.

If you know of anyone in the Cape area that needs a 4 bedroom home in the Alma Schrader school district, send them our way.

If you would like to partner with us in this venture through prayer or financial support please contact us and let us know.  We will get you connected and keep you informed of what’s going on in our ministry.  You can email me at

I hope to begin writing on more in the coming months to help you follow our journey and keep you informed of what’s going on.


the biggest confirmation

The biggest confirmation from the Lord came in the things that make this place the hardest for us to leave.  Those reasons are also the things that make this the best place for us to launch into a new ministry like this: a loving and supportive Pastor, a body of Christ that supports missions and ministry around the world, good friends, and lots of love!

Thank you for reading and caring about our family.  We’re not sure of everything that is ahead, but we know it is God’s path for us.

For His Glory Alone,

Brian for the Crisman family




On September 2, 1992, just before 8a.m. I walked into Music Theory 101 a week late to Mobile College with no books.  So, I asked the prettiest girl in the class if I could share with her.  Praise God she said, “Yes.”  But He already knew she would.  His sovereign hand had been guiding us to this moment. The many ways God gently, or not so gently, corrected us and kept us heading to this point is simply miraculous.  Here is a little taste of what our life has been like these past 20 years.

And, if you haven’t read or heard it before, here is our story:

My Bride

Sonya and I met in Music Theory 101 on September 2, 1992, during the first semester of our freshman year at the University of Mobile (it was called Mobile College then).  I was late getting to school that year because I’d been touring with a musical group, had no books for my first day of classes, and needed to share with someone.  Naturally, I asked the prettiest girl in the room.  When the class was over, we introduced ourselves and I said something dorky like “My name is Brian, but my friends call me Odie.”  Yes, my college nickname was Odie, but that’s another story.  Incidentally, Sonya never called me Odie.

I was dating someone from that tour long distance at the time so Sonya and I just “hung out.”  We quickly became good friends and soon would call each other “best friends.” We went to the 1992 Homecoming dance together as well as every concert we were required to attend as music majors.  In fact, if the seat next to one of us was vacant, people would leave it vacant for the other.  Many people asked if we were dating and we denied it everytime.  We were just good friends.

Now, about that homecoming.  I would learn much later that a significant event took place the night before at the talent show.  I had practiced for weeks on a jazz band solo called “Nichole.”  Sonya listened many times, so we nicknamed it “Sonya.”  (I know, very creative, but it helps in a minute).  It was a very mellow yet emotional fluegel horn solo.  As I played it that evening with the jazz band behind me, Sonya sensed that we were going to be married some day.  While I would like to believe that I wooed her with my very passionate performance, I don’t think it had anything to do with the way I played the song.  God was speaking.  Now, that was in October.  Sonya committed to be patient and let God work.  She began to pray that He would either remove her feelings for bring me around.

Somewhere around that time Sonya asked me to come to church with her on a Sunday when she was singing.  Wow!  She was amazing.  Little did I know how blessed I would be by that voice in the future.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day 1993, my girl friend from Texas came for a visit so, I asked my best friend if she would provide accommodations.  For some reason S0nya politely declined to help.  But I found a mutual friend of ours who would let her stay the weekend. While staying with our mutual friend in the dorm, my girl friend asked “So what’s with this Sonya chick?”  Apparently, I’d been talking about her quite a bit.  Our friend reassured her that we were only friends.

Fast forward to March.  We continued to grow closer and closer.  I drove most Thursday nights to her home in Daphne, where she lived with her parents, to watch Seinfeld and Frazier.  (Now you know why we quote so many lines from Seinfeld.)  Then, she went on a date.  Not with me.  Someone else.  The best part of it was that I encourage her to go!  When they schedule the second date, I began to feel differently.  Oh yeah, I was still dating a girl in Texas.  But I didn’t like this idea of Sonya dating.  Our time was threatened and he like to put his arm around her.  He began to talk about their “relationship.”  To my relief, Sonya quickly began to confess her lack of enthusiasm for the relationship and I obviously encouraged her to end it!

Spring Break ticket

April 1993 came quickly and with it, the Spring Banquet: an off campus event with a catered meal and dancing.  (I believe it was the first one with dancing – lucky for us.)  Sonya did not want the aforementioned young man to ask her to it so we agreed to go together.  Three days before the dance, my girl friend from Texas broke up with me.  I was heartbroken and my best friend came to comfort me.  We sat on the front steps of my campus house (girls were not allowed inside – it was a baptist school!) and she consoled me with sweet words and side hugs.  Now I know that inside she was smiling and just a bit giddy. She confesses to also feeling a little guilty, thinking that all of her praying about our relationship had finally worked and now I was upset!

Because we were just “friends” we had agreed to go to the Spring Banquet as a part of a 5 person group.  Two couples and a single guy named Eddie Gross.  The other couple made new plans, so Sonya, Eddie , and I went to the Banquet together in my Blazer.  We began the night dancing like friends with a safe distance between us.  By the end of the night, I’m not sure there was any distance between us at all.

first date - Spring Banquet

I took Sonya to her sister’s apartment and walked her to the door on the second floor.  Eddie, who had not said a word from the back seat the entire time, stayed in the car.  There was a awkward hug followed by a quick, glancing peck on the lips from the clumsy guy not sure what to do.  Not knowing what to do I tried it again.  I mean, this was my best friend.  I’m a guy.  I don’t know how to read “signals.”  I can’t sense feelings.  That’s when Sonya took things into her own hands.  As I turned to leave she said “Wait,” wrapped her arms around my head and did it right.  Boy am I glad she did!  It really was magical.  We say that was were we crossed the “platonic line” – April 3, 1993.

The transition to “dating” couple was pretty seamless.  We had really been dating for several months without actually dating.  I see God’s hand in it all.  We became best friends first.  We are still best friends.  As people noticed us holding hands, some would actually cheer.  Most just said they already knew we would be together.  Some asked when the wedding would be.

The next December, I took Sonya back to the apartment door where her sister once lived, reinacted our first kiss, and proposed to her.  That was January 8, 1994.  We were married on December 30 that same year.


Sonya is my best friend.  She is an incredible wife.  She has given birth to five amazing children who remain to be amazing because they have such a wonderful mommy.  She has been through the dreaded Seminary years with me as well as a very tough ministry stint.  I couldn’t have done any of it without her.  And those of you at Lynwood know that my ministry now would not be the same without her.  She sings and leads, which means that most Sundays she gets all five children to church on time to be in her spot by 8:00 a.m.  Our kids have such fun with her.  She brings laughter to our family.  Her smile is captivating.  There is no one like her and there is no doubt, God created and molded us for each other.  She’s my soulmate.  Thank you, God, for my wife.  And thank you, Sonya, for listening to Him.

I Love You!


First Date - before  

more pics:



lessons from a dreamer

If you’re following Lynwood’s chronological bible reading plan then you just finished reading about Joseph.  Man, so many lessons can be taught from his life.  How to face adversity.  How to maintain your integrity.  How to avoid temptation.  How not to relate to your brothers!  But this time, God spoke to me about something different.  He showed me a glorious picture of redemption from two sides.  Redemption from two different perspectives.

On one side, there’s Joseph.  Not a bad kid growing up.  Maybe a little naive.  Maybe a little cocky.  So his brothers threw him in a pit, faked his death, and sold him into slavery.  The guy who bought him trusted him greatly and gave him much responsibility.  But he also believed his wife when she lied about Joseph’s “advance” towards her so he threw Joseph in prison.  He helped a dude who promised to remember him, but that took another two years.  Two years of prison.  But finally, finally, God delivered him, and gave him favor with Pharaoh.  God redeemed Joseph and gave him great power and influence.  With this power and influence he was able to save his entire family from death during a great famine.

At the same time, there are the brothers.  Jealous.  Ruthless.  I won’t even discuss some of the stories the bible tells about them.  They were selfish, self-indulgent kidnappers, liars, and slave traders (at least when it came to Joseph).  But, in the end, God redeemed them.  He used the brother they sold and discarded to save them all from starvation.  Ultimately, our Savior would come from one of their families.  And from one of the worst brothers!

But what does Joseph say about all of this?  He sees God’s purpose in it all.

And God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant on earth, and to keep alive for you many survivors. So it was not you who sent me here, but God. He has made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house and ruler over all the land of Egypt.
Genesis 45:7, 8

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.
Genesis 50:20

So, we see in the life of Joseph the redemption of God.  Redemption for the one so seeks God but encounters horrible hardship and injustice.  All along, God was working His glorious plan of salvation.  There WAS purpose in the pain. And redemption of the one who forsakes God and follows his own way.  He does horrible things and seems so lost.  But there is redemption.

So when we look at people, who do we see.  One who seeks God?  One who rejects God?  Peoople in need of redemption?  Someone whom Jesus died for?

 Think about it.  And if you need redemption, it’s available. Just email me at the link on the right.  I’d love to share about it.


what a difference a year makes

Here are our oldest girls ready for their first camp experience.

Last year, they were scheduled to go with our former church, but God’s plans for us didn’t allow it.  We would be moving that week.  In fact, there was a lot going on this time last year.  It was on Memorial Day weekend that we told our kids our suspicion that God was going to move us.  The following weekend God confirmed it in a visit.  So, this time last year we had just returned from a visit to Cape Girardeau where God confirmed His will to us.  We were trying to figure out how all of this would work.  Putting our house on the market.  Planning a weekend “in view of a call.”  Arranging a move before school started.  Hugging our friends.  And hugging our kids.

This would be the hardest move we’d made yet.  We’d lived in Gadsden for seven years.  Two of our kids were born there.  The others hardly remembered any other place if they remembered anything at all.  They had best friends, were comfortable with their school.  They loved our house and of course, the pool!  There were many questions.

So, we followed God’s will and began our “great adventure” towards Missouri.  God worked in wonderful ways to show us His love and help our move.  But the kids struggled.  They knew we had to go, but they didn’t want to.  They made friends quickly but missed their old ones terribly.  When they spoke of “home,” they meant Alabama.  When Brotey and Emma sung the Alma Schrader Elementary School song in an assembly, they omitted the line, “Alma Schrader my favorite school.”

In the few trips we’ve taken back to Alabama, they cheered when we crossed over into the “Heart of Dixie” but didn’t really make a sound when coming back into the “Show Me” state.  Until yesterday.

Yesterday was different.  It was the typical 12.5 hour journey from Destin, through Alabama, Mississippi, and Tennessee.  But, when we hit the Missouri state line, something different happened.  Our kids cheered!  Cheered I said.  We knew it would take some time for them to begin to appreciate our new home but it is finally happening.  Praise God.  Now they have best friends in two states.  Friends they can’t wait to see it Alabama and friends they can’t wait to see in Missouri.  They love our house and our new church.  They still have some mixed emotions, we all do.  But Cape is becoming our home.  Lynwood is becoming our family.  And our kids are smiling.  So, we smile.

Following God’s will is one crazy adventure.  It isn’t always easy, but it is always the best.  Chase it.

Oh, and Kate was ready for camp too.  But she’s still got a few years to go.

Thanks for praying.


let the waters rise

Thanks, Jamie, for reminding me of this song.


moving is hard but God is good

Moving is hard.  Even when you’re following God’s will.  I want to be all chipper and share about how great the adventure has been.  But this has already been a hard day.

Don’t get me wrong, the adventure has been great.  We love our church.  God is moving.  People are responding to our leadership.  We believe that Lynwood’s vision is so biblical.  There is an authentic movement toward biblical, radical, American-dream-shattering Christian living and we are pumped about it.  We love our house.  It fits us in such an amazing way that only God could have picked it out.  Our kids have great schools and wonderful teachers.  They have nurtured and cared for them and gone way beyond the call of duty.  We love our staff and are already forming great friendships on and off of the staff.  We love the worship team.  The people here have cared for us and accepted us into the Lynwood family.  We already feel at home in so many ways.  We do not have a shadow of a doubt about God’s will.  We are where He wants us to be.

But moving is hard.  Preteen hormones and moving stress came out at 5:30 a.m. this morning.  Brotey vomited all over himself on the way in to school – in the grass in front of the school (Nursey, thanks for helping him change clothes and taking him on to class).  The weight of needing to sell our house in Rainbow City sits on me (the provider) like nothing I’ve known before.  Missing our friends and family in Alabama.  Budgeting.  AT&T.  Driver’s Licenses (don’t get me started).  The burden for our kid’s friendships.  The inner turmoil is hard to describe.

But God has been speaking this week.  From Psalm 90, Moses speaks of how great our God is.  His eternal nature.  He was here before the mountains were formed and He will be here after they crumble.  In eternity, our time is short, so we better “number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (v.12)  Priorities, priorities.  Kingdom priorities.  We can be satisfied in His “steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” (v.14)  He is all we need and we should not waste our time here.  We’ve got to worship and serve.  Seek and love.

In Psalm 91 we see that when we dwell with Him, we dwell in safety.  We can rest in the shadow of His protection and provision.  Because of our intimate relationship with Him He will answer us, protect us, and save us.

In 1 Thessalonians God has been challenging me to keep my priorities straight. (Pause – just got a call from Patrick White.  Great to hear his voice. I love that brother in Christ so much.  Thanks for calling man.  God is good.)  Chapeter 1 – It is God who has called us and filled us with His Spirit.  Chapter 2 – We work to please Him, not man.  He is the one who tests our hearts.  He has called us to be bold with the gospel but gentle with babes in Christ.  We must not just “preach”, we have to share our lives.  Open up.  We must be real as we encourage believers to “walk in a manner worthy of God.” (v.12)  Chapter 3 – We must display God’s love through our love for each other.  We are fellow servants, co-workers, soldiers in the same conflict.  Chapter 4 – Live to please God.  His will for us is our sanctification.  Live differently than the world, because…He is coming back.  Triumphantly, He is coming back.  Chapter 5 – like a thief in the night, without warning, He is coming back.  Don’t be caught asleep!  Live for His glory.  Work as though He’s coming today.  Respect your spiritual leadership.  Be at peace in the body of Christ.  Admonish and encourage the idle in the faith.  Help the weak.  Pick up the fainthearted.  BE PATIENT (all caps for me).  Seek to do good.  Rejoice.  Pray.  Give thanks in all circumstances – for this is God’s will for us.

How can we do all this?  “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (5:24)  Did I point out that God is good?

MeadowBrook, we miss you so much.  You guys are family and I am so proud of you.  I hear of your faithfulness.  Your service.  Your commitment to His calling.  We pray for you and lift you up in His name.  Stay true to your calling and seek Him with all your might!

Lynwood, we love you.  You are our family also.  We’re still getting to know each other, but we are home.  Thank you for loving and nurturing our family.  We are so excited about the days ahead.  Let’s seek Him.  Let’s serve.  Let’s love.  Let’s encourage.  He’s coming back, so let’s live each moment for His glory.

To everyone, thanks for reading.  Thanks for letting me vent, whine, well, pretty much vomit on the screen.  We love you all.

For His Eternal Glory,

Brian, Sonya, and family