A great many would-be church planters come from godly homes with a spiritual heritage. Some people who launch churches cite a pedigree that extends three or four generations of ministers in the family before them.
Darius Giles and his wife, Bryttani, are different. Both came from troubled households. Indeed, child protection authorities removed Bryttani from her home of origin at the age of 7 and placed her in foster care. A court terminated her mother’s parental rights.
Before that, Bryttani and her two sisters lived a sometimes nomadic lifestyle with their mother, staying everywhere from a women’s shelter to a motel basement.
“We lived with a lot of unsafe people,” recalls Bryttani, 30. “There was a lot of addiction, and physical and sexual abuse.”
However, along the way, at the age of 5 Bryttani attended a Sunday School class, where she heard about Jesus from a teacher named Teena. She has sensed God’s protection ever since.
“When I was afraid and in scary situations before being taken away, God made me feel safe — even when no safe adults were around,” says the tenderhearted Bryttani. “Teena’s consistent kindness and love toward me was the biggest reason why I listened and understood when she explained Jesus loved me. I wanted to keep going back because she made it a fun and safe place.”
Although placed in a stable foster home until she aged out of the system at 18, Bryttani perpetually dealt with the trauma of her childhood.
“When I had nightmares and couldn’t sleep, I still felt the presence of God,” she says.
Her foster family didn’t attend church regularly, but a friend invited her to youth group at Ahtanum Valley Assembly of God (now Crosspoint Church) in Yakima, Washington.
“I found a church family when I had none at home,” says Bryttani, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. “God adopted me and gave me a burden to help others without a family to find Jesus.”
Brytanni always hoped to be reunified with her family of origin, but it never happened.
“Everyone was secretive about the whole situation, and I tried to hide it from everyone at school,” Brytanni remembers. “Adoption was never spoken of. I just knew I was a ward of the state.”
At 16, she met Darius in the youth group, where he had just surrendered his life to Christ. Darius grew up in a blended family in which he says various secretive relationships and addictions existed.
“There was a lot of unrest and instability in the home,” remembers Darius, 31. “We moved around a lot and didn’t go to church.”
The couple wed in 2011, their first year attending Northwest University in Kirkland, Washington, together.
“We had nothing, but God provided scholarships,” Bryttani says. “God miraculously guided me and sent help so I wouldn’t become a statistic.”
Darius obtained his AG ministerial credentials even before marrying. The couple have spent the past decade involved in full-time ministry, primarily as youth pastors at Faith Tri-Cities in Pasco, Washington. Since 2020, Darius and Bryttani have been the NextGen pastors working with young adults at Mt. Rainier Christian Center in Enumclaw.
Although they have no firm plans, the couple recently attended a Church Multiplication Network Launch Training event in Renton to explore the possibility of pioneering a congregation.
“We’re waiting for Jesus to tell us our next assignment,” Darius says. “We have a passion to reach broken people in an urban context. We want to reach people like us.”
“It was the most encouraging, life-giving conference I ever attended,” Bryttani says.
“They provided great information and answered so many questions,” says Darius, a man with a gregarious laugh.
Les E. Welk met the couple during his 12-year tenure as superintendent of the AG’s Northwest Ministry Network. That relationship has strengthened in the seven years Welk has worked as a pastoral counselor for the Seattle-based Ministry Resources Center.
Welk helped Brytanni deal with feelings of family insecurity that didn’t manifest until she had reached adulthood.
“It really showed in college when I saw other students with support systems when I had to find resources on my own,” Bryttani says.
Welk, citing 2 Corinthians 1, believes that Darius and Bryttani are in a place of being able to comfort others because of how they have been comforted by God.
“They have been willing to put in some hard work on a personal level to address issues from the past, and in that process, God has put them in a place of ministering to the afflicted,” says Welk, 68. “They’ve dug deep and let the Holy Spirit heal their hearts, which sets them up for continued meaningful ministry, especially for people who find themselves in a similar place.”
“Stability is one of our goals in the course of healing,” Darius says. “We didn’t have much when we grew up.”