Bradley Dale Burkes, also known as Pastor Brad, was born in 1961 and grew up across the United States as his father served as an active Christian pastor. His childhood revolved around Bible-based Christianity, moving wherever his father’s preaching was needed. The family finally settled in Parsons, Kansas, where Burkes graduated from high school and then enlisted in the army at age 18. He was stationed in Germany for about two years, then returned to Kansas to follow his father’s footsteps in Christian ministry. He then moved to Omaha, Nebraska, where he apprenticed with different pastors and churches across the state.

In between his ministry, Pastor Brad was a truck driver who made deliveries across the nation. His first visit to the Rio Grande Valley was in 2000, but it wasn’t until 2005 when he attended a Christian men’s retreat with his father that “the Lord showed me a clear vision of me starting a church in Brownsville, Texas, on the border. He said clearly in my spirit, ‘Do it all bilingual and call it ‘The Embassy of The Spirit,’ bringing two cultures to God.’

By 2007, Pastor Brad moved to Brownsville, and in 2014 he married Leticia Flores.

His first memory in politics was at the age of 16 when he watched the 1976 presidential debates between President Jimmy Carter (D) and Gerald Ford (R). “I remember thinking, ‘If we pay people not to work, too many will not work. And then everyone will suffer,’” he stated. “Clearly too many people voted for the big smile and unrealistic promises that was Jimmy Carter! As a result, we saw unemployment skyrocket along with inflation.”

Later on, he became entrenched in opposing what he recognized as the evils of abortion and was in disbelief over the silence from the Church against Roe v. Wade. When he questioned his father about the lack of outcry, he saw a look of shame on his fathers’ face.

“I decided right there, I never want to feel the shame he felt for not speaking out! I determined that when I see something that is not right, I would pray! I would ask God what He wanted me to do, and be as faithful as possible to do all He shows me to do!”

His first involvement in local politics occurred at a Brownsville City Council meeting, where he strongly advocated for a border “levee wall.” Though his statements didn’t resonate with the council, he was asked to return as their regular chaplain for invocation. Since then, he has been called to pray with those seeking office, ranging from city council to Congress. In addition, he’s the unofficial chaplain for the Brownsville Republican Club and Tea Party. He has volunteered on various campaigns, attended the past two Republican Party of Texas conventions as a delegate, and is looking forward to this year’s convention.

Looking back at his decision to move to Brownsville, he strongly believes in God’s plan set for him. “I was called not only to pastor,” he said, “but to minister to the political realm!”

Ultimately, Pastor Brad’s efforts stem from his desire to minister to people individually and nationally through conservative political campaigns. It is his hope to “see this nation come back to God as individuals receiving Jesus as Lord and savior, and as a nation through Biblical laws and policies,” he states. “When we do things in God’s way as a nation, everyone is blessed!”

Pastor Brad and his wife Letty hold Bible-based Christian services at the “Embassy of the Spirit” every Monday evening. Their doors are open to the community and they have a bus pick-up service for the homeless population in downtown Brownsville.

Letty, who is in charge of the kitchen, cooks a delicious meal free for everyone to enjoy after services. According to Letty, Pastor Brad keeps his hands full with his ministry, politics, and their twin sons.

Miriam Cepeda

Miriam Cepeda is the Rio Grande Valley Bureau Chief for Texas Scorecard. A second-generation Mexican American, she is both fluent in English and Spanish and has been influential in grassroots organizing and conservative engagement within Hispanic communities. If you don’t find her “Trumping”, you can find her saving animals, running her dog, hiking the Andes, or volunteering with the U.S. National Park Service.

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