Georgia preacher Brandon Bennings was only 23 years old in 2011 when he discovered he had a deadly form of brain cancer. And with support from his friends, family and church, he refused to give up hope that God could heal him. Last Monday, he died still clinging to it.
"My name is Brandon Bennings and I have a story to share," he began in a chronicle of his fight at brandnupossibilities.com.
"In late April of 2011 I was diagnosed with stage four brain cancer. Technically speaking, I have a glioblastoma (pro. glee-oh-blas-toma) tumor, which is a very common but most aggressive malignant brain tumor. The survival rate for people with my type of cancer is about 1 percent over 5 years," he wrote.
Bennings was still a student at the prestigious Morehouse College when he discovered he was ill.
"I had one semester left, majored in religion and minored in philosophy, and then all of a sudden. I got sick," he revealed in a YouTube video posted this summer.
The cancer affected Brandon's speech, his ability to walk and the functioning of the entire right side of his body.
"Going from a busy body, as I was, to pre-planning taking a shower…having to plan will I take a walker or will I use a wheelchair," he explained.
Almost a year later, with his health deteriorating, Bennings took the stage at his church, The House of Hope Atlanta (Greater Travelers Rest) pastored by Dr. E. Dewey Smith in Decatur, Ga., and talked about what he wanted his legacy to be, and brought the congregation to their feet and left them in tears with his testimony.
"I know this past Tuesday I had a thought. What is my legacy gonna be. I don't want people to forget me, but even if they do, I made up in my mind that I'm gonna be like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego," said Bennings in a recording of his testimony posted on YouTube.
"They said 'our God is able to do it, but even if He doesn't, we're still not going to serve you.' And I made up in my mind that's what I'm gonna do. God is able to do it, but even if he doesn't, He's still able," he said to applause from the church.
"The second thing that I resolved was that I want to make somebody smile. That's just a part of who I am. Always joking, always thinking about someone else. I just want to make someone smile 'cause it's like Paul (the apostle) said. 'We're like epistles being read of men daily and so I live my life," he said.
"I live so loudly that no one has questions. But if they do have questions, I'm like Peter (the apostle) and I give a defense of the hope I have and my hope is in Jesus. And I'm gonna take my seat, not this one," he quipped in reference to his wheelchair.
"The last thing I want to leave is a song, 'He's Able' by Darwin Hobbs," he said before seguing into the chorus from the song reciting the words:
God is able to do
Just what He said He would do
He's going to fulfill every promise to you
Don't give up on God cause He won't give up on you
In August 2013, Bennings got hit with another challenge. He aged out of coverage on his mother's insurance and had started appealing for help with his treatment, which was nearly $900,000 a year out of pocket. But even then, he held on to hope.
"The main thing is a four letter word called hope," he said.
"I have a hope that my life or the way that I am won't always be like I am currently. My hope has been fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled with the support that I get from both family and friends. My hope also in God has major, major, majorly kept me going. Kept me positive and kept me hopeful in saying this, too, will pass."
And it did.
On Monday, Nov. 11, 2013, the hopeful Brandon Bennings died.