Brian Rhodes has served Awana in various capacities the past 25 years, ranging from his missionary work both in the U.S. and Eastern Europe to Executive Director of U.S. Ministries and Awana International. Brian’s role as Vice President & Chief Ministry Officer gives him responsibility over both the U.S. and international side of the ministry. By combining efforts and moving to a more global focus, Awana is positioned to reach and influence more children and youth for Christ. Awana currently serves more than two million children and youth in more than 34,000 churches around the world.
Growing up in New York, Brian’s dad was a gifted musician and served in small churches through his music ministry. Brian’s understanding of salvation came at age 8 as he sat under the preaching of his uncle each Sunday morning. Brian’s faith wavered after his family moved to Tampa, Florida when he was 15. It was his high school sweetheart, Sandee, who pointed him back to his faith.
“I led Sandee to Christ, but she led me back to Christ," says Brian, who has been married to Sandee for over 30 years. “I can see now how the Lord used this time in my life to fuel my passion to engage and help others become effective followers of Christ.”
From success to significance
Brian worked in management and as a senior account executive for IBM for 16 years. After achieving marketplace success, he grappled with what eternal value there was in his work. Brian realized that God was calling him into full-time ministry. He left IBM and transitioned into full-time ministry as an Awana missionary in South Florida. He later served as Awana area director for the former USSR and Eastern Europe.
In 2007, Brian joined Awana International, the global arm of Awana, as executive director. Under Brian’s watch, AI nearly doubled its influence, expanding into more than 14,000 churches, schools, orphanages and refugee camps. Brian led a team of headquarters and field staff representing numerous racial, ethnic and language groups and nationalities, but united in their dedication to impacting children for Christ.
Speaker to audiences worldwide
Brian has served as a speaker and workshop teacher at churches and Awana conferences around the world. He addresses a variety of topics, primarily:
• The outcome of long-term discipleship: life transformation
• Building a legacy in the home and future generations
• The vision to train Christian leaders globally to reach children with the gospel of Christ
“I like being engaged with pastors and church leaders in local churches,” Brian says. “Awana is a servant of the local church.”
Leaving a spiritual legacy
As parents, Brian and Sandee witnessed the impact of Awana on their six children’s lives. They served as Awana leaders in various roles in their church before becoming missionaries.
“We saw firsthand how the Lord was growing a strong foundation and a biblical worldview in the lives of our children,” Brian describes. “Our children saw Sandee and me partnering with the church to instill God’s Word in their hearts.”
Brian and Sandee desire to build a spiritual legacy. They know it begins at home.
“We began this journey in 1998 when we took our children on a short-term mission trip to Romania,” Brian says. “It changed our lives. Our children did not want to come back home. The trip was about discipling our own children to be effective followers of Jesus Christ. If we are serious about raising a new generation of spiritual champions, we need to be focused and have a plan. It’s been my desire to mentor my own children first and then others and to focus on long-term discipleship.”
Besides their children, Brian and Sandee have three sons-in-law and six grandchildren that they pray they will spiritually impact. “We recognize that we are not finished because our children are grown,” Brian says. “True legacy comes when you build it across multiple generations.”
How to contact Brian Rhodes
To schedule an interview, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.