Ernst Brandenburg had arrived in Australia as a wide eyed, inquisitive eight year old, with his German parents in October 1956.His schoolteachers had advised him that his name would become “Earnest” as it was important for him to “assimilate” as quickly as possible.
His childhood in his adopted country was hardly remarkable marred primarily with the constant conflict with his parents who had found it very difficult to integrate. What had seemed as minor issues had escalated during Ernst’s teenage years and he had made the decision to leave home to “find himself”.
He simply left a note on his pillow telling his distraught parents not to worry and that he would be in touch as he drifted into the world of the Sydney homeless community hovering in and out of the King’s Cross precinct.
Ernst soon established himself in the pecking order of this unlikely society having succumbed to the lure of drugs and its soul destroying consequences, resulting in petty crime to support an ever increasing dependency on heroin that had started with a bit of a dabble smoking cannabis. Heroin was the “in thing” and very easy to get, meaning that withdrawal was not an issue as he was in a state of perpetual intoxication. His adolescence was spent dealing with murderous criminals and self styled gangsters.
It seemed glamorous, it was dangerous, a place where there were opportunities for somebody to take high level risks with potentially high level returns, which wasn’t the truth, of course.
Progression to self injecting led to more expensive designer drugs and a shift into more serious crime, including minor and serious assaults all related in some way to illegal drugs and resulting in a lengthy prison term.
Upon his release he moved to a small country town where he went straight for a while out of necessity as the drugs he was accustomed to were simply not available.
Unfortunately this did not last and he soon found himself once again on a downward spiral, if he wasn’t lucky enough to find a couch or space on the floor of a drug acquaintance, Ernst slept in grandstands of deserted sports grounds, parks and public toilets. As the drug use continued he began to experience psychosis, which placed him into a state psychiatric ward.
The turnaround in his life came gradually but the biggest turning point was the day he accepted Jesus into his life.
He was still overwhelmed by addiction whilst on a methadone programme but he was praying for the Lord to help him, it became a cycle of repentance.
He clearly recalls the day God intervened stripping everything away from him with the blessing of meeting his future wife who became his soul mate and was able to assist and influence him into full recovery.
Having endured the horrific years, not fearing any relapse into his former life through the strength of his faith and the support of his wife, Ernst was led to a church with an outreach mission that dealt primarily with street kids with the potential of being seduced into the associated drug culture.
It was during a home fellowship evening that a close friend shared the following text.
Ephesians 1:14 (KJV)
......which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.
What did this mean? His friend continued. The word “earnest” was a token of something to come; a promise or assurance, a pledge or guarantee. The Holy Spirit in the life of the believer is the pledge, guarantee, promise and assurance that we shall enter into our inheritance with all its benefits. These words became the motivation that Ernst employed in his very successful ministry having discovered the importance of being “Ernst”.
What a mighty God we serve. He has a plan for us all no matter where we find ourselves in this moment in time.
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