Featured Racer: Brad Henke

Brad Henke of 2014 I Squad believed in justice.

Raised in a family who loved God, Brad committed his life to Christ as a child, went to church every week, worked hard, and stayed out of trouble.

But in high school, nothing made sense. Despite practicing before school and late into the night, Brad was continually benched while hungover teammates could start the school’s basketball and baseball games. He kept his grades up and was ridiculed for his faith.

And his dad got throat cancer.

After a lifetime of “living right” and seeing his dad struggle for his very life while classmates lived recklessly with seemingly no consequences, it didn’t seem fair or just to Brad.

Where was the reward for doing everything right?

When he left for college, Brad put his beliefs aside. As long as his grades didn’t suffer, he did whatever he wanted.

Until the night he and his friends mistakenly took a larger hit of LSD than planned. His world fell out. One friend almost died.

Ashamed, Brad wondered if he could be forgiven. He had no excuse; he knew what was wrong and did it anyway.

It was then Brad learned the incredible power - and undeserved gift - of grace. “In that moment, I learned that if I wanted a real relationship with God, I was going to have to follow him because I wanted him and because I needed him. I was tired of running. I craved peace and forgiveness.

I believe in his infinite grace, God already had plans to redeem me for his glory.”

Brad joined two communities who encouraged him to grow closer to God. One, a rafting company where he worked as a guide. The second, a college ministry where he heard about the World Race.

While the opportunity to minister in many different cultures appealed to him, going on the Race wasn’t an easy decision. Not with the pressures of immediately getting a job and looming student loans, coupled with very promising job offers for post graduation.

“My greatest fear taking a job immediately after graduation was waking up in five years thinking, ‘Remember that time you considered doing that crazy World Race thing? Imagine if that had led you to commit to full time missions somewhere! Good thing you dodged that bullet; that would have been nuts.’ I didn’t want to live like that.

If I really trusted Jesus for salvation, why would I not trust him with everything in my life? I think we miss a lot of opportunities to serve God when we fail to step out in faith knowing our Father loves us.”

It was this message he shared with an alcoholic homeless man in Honduras. While playing his guitar in a city park on Christmas Eve, Brad told Marcos* God loved him even if he remained an alcoholic for the rest of his life. That his worth and salvation didn’t depend on what he did. Tears in his eyes, Marcos looked at Brad and said, “I give up. I want to be your disciple. I will listen to whatever you want to teach me.”

This moment with Marcos showed Brad how living in surrender and complete dependence on Christ can literally change the world. And how through his redemption, grace, and sovereignty, God’s justice reigns complete throughout the earth.

“The Race is not some magical journey where God is suddenly going to change you. Jesus will change you. Pray for Him to do it. Then let him to do it. I’m becoming aware of exactly how powerless I am in every aspect of my life, yet the God I serve is all powerful. I’m more fully aware of my complete dependence on Him. Through him I do carry power and strength to do immeasurably more than I could ever hope or dream. He’s delighted to do it because it brings Him glory. At this point in the Race, I have a better understanding of who I am in Him.”

Brad still believes in justice, but it’s no longer attached to the world’s standards of what that means. In fact, it looks a lot like redemption.

Visit Brad’s blog to read more about his journey. Interested in going on the World Race? Click here to find out more.

*not his real name