By Gabriel Stovall
“Lord, anywhere, anything.”
That was the simple prayer Send Relief Journeyman Brianna McKinney offered up to God as a sense of restlessness settled in regarding her future in Washington, D.C.
That’s where Brianna had served since she became a Journeyman missionary in December 2019. She was constructing a business plan to start a coffee shop that would give transitional employment to the local homeless community. Then COVID-19 hit and it changed everything—including, eventually, the city where she would serve.
But moves of faith don’t scare Brianna, especially after the leap that got her into the Journeyman program.
Not long after graduating from Liberty University, Brianna was already in a place where she was wondering what God’s next move for her life should be. When she initially moved to D.C. to begin her ministry as a Journeyman, her eyes and heart were wide open, and she didn’t quite know what to expect.
“I feel like after college especially, everyone’s focus is on landing a great job that pays a decent amount of money,” Brianna said. “I was working in a situation where I wasn’t happy. I had an interview lined up, and was planning to go into the corporate world. But deep down, I was looking to see how I could do something that wouldn’t just benefit me, but other people, too. Really, that mindset started when I was in GenSend, and that’s kind of the path that led me here.”
She got the call from Steve Turner who led Next Generation Mobilization for Send Relief, and that got her started on the process to becoming a Journeyman. And while in D.C., Brianna’s ministry creativity started expanding. In addition to her ministry in the local church, she was also brainstorming a way to turn her love for coffee into something that helps people get back on their feet.
“Before Covid hit in D.C., I was working on business plans for a coffee shop out of a church,” she said. “I’m super passionate about coffee and even more passionate about seeing lives change. So, I wanted to put both passions together. It was designed to help give transitional employment for homeless people in the neighborhood.”
But when the pandemic came, the plans for a coffee shop at the church shifted to a food bank, and Brianna was still in the midst of helping meet needs while sharing the gospel in the process.
The coronavirus halt, combined with lots of transition and leadership changes in the church, didn’t allow her to settle into a groove for too long. She started feeling some stirrings from God that made her believe He may be ready for her to move again.
“I took a week away and visited a couple of Journeymen in Clarkston (Georgia),” she said, “and spending time there made me come to the conclusion that I wanted to be relocated.”
That’s when she prayed her prayer and talked to Jason Tipton who serves the Send Relief Ministry Center in Denver.
“I told Jason that my prayer was literally, ‘Lord, send me anywhere. I’ll do whatever you want. I thought D.C. was where you wanted me to be, but if you have other plans, I’m open to them.”
Apparently, Jason took that conversation seriously.
“He called me back and said, ‘Bri, you’re moving to Colorado,’” she said. “After that, I packed my life into my car, sold all my furniture and went on a cross-country road trip to Colorado with my two roommates.”
She now splits her time between the ministry center in Denver and at Pinewood Church in Boulder.
Although her time in the nation’s capital was short—just seven months to be exact—it was impactful. It helped confirm for her that being a Journeyman was still God’s plan for her life, and it prepared her to approach her new assignment in yet another place she’d never been with a lot less fear.
“I’ll tell anyone that my time as a Journeyman is just an amazing return on the investment of your time and energy,” she said.
“The opportunities I’ve received so far have been unmatched. The way that God has worked with me to become a better missionary day by day has been amazing. It’s also really caused me to know how to trust God. Sometimes, I can get so into myself, that I easily miss God. But being a Journeyman has forced me to really concentrate on hearing God’s voice, knowing when it’s time to start a gospel conversation and just not being afraid or timid to step out on faith.”
And, yes, she still wants to see those coffee shop aspirations come into fruition.
“Even here in Colorado, I would absolutely love to be able to have someone take on that coffee shop plan,” she said. “I don’t have to be the one to implement it. I just want to see it come to life…Just as long as people get the chance to know Jesus through it all. That’s really what this journey’s all about.”