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Brett & Alex Harris: High Expectations

October 19th, 2009

Alex and Brett Harris balance the rigors of PHC against the demands of The REBELUTION

By Cate Pilgrim

CONTACT:  David Halbrook
Patrick Henry College
(540) 441-8722
OfficeOfCommunications@phc.edu

Alex and Brett Harris (center) with two Rebelutionaries

While still in high school, they were featured nationally on MSNBC, CNN, NPR, and The New York Times.  They’ve been mistaken for the Jonas Brothers. And for the third year in a row, Alex and Brett Harris are leading The REBELUTION -- their term for rebelling against the low expectations society imposes on teenagers. Following the publication of their best-selling book, Do Hard Things, the twin brothers did a five-city REBELUTION tour across the United States, hosting conferences which challenged thousands of Christian teens to face the culture and “set an example” per 1 Timothy 4:12. Now the twins are back in Purcellville, eight weeks into an inevitably hectic sophomore year at PHC. But memories of their last conference are fresh in their minds.

“At the D.C. conference, the atmosphere was charged in a special way—God’s spirit was so evident there,” recalls Brett. Over 3,500 people were packed into the Hylton Memorial Chapel for the season’s last REBELUTION event. After his father, Gregg, delivered a Scripture-heavy message, scores of teens came to Christ. “You could feel a tangible difference in the air. There was genuine transformation.” Across the auditorium, people rose from their seats with open eyes to confess, “Jesus Christ is LORD!” and then sat back down, weeping. “The presentation of the gospel was powerful,” said Brett. His brother Alex nodded, “Christ is pleased when we acknowledge him before men.”

That was Saturday, September 19. Twenty-four hours later, the twenty-year-old brothers were catching up on homework for classes. Their fellow students seem a little puzzled. Why spend weekends studying Western Literature when you could be traveling the world speaking to crowds? Yet the Harris twins aren’t burdened by a sense of anticlimax.

A Rebelution conference, full of a few thousand young people and parents

“There may seem to be a tension between ministry and school, but it’s a short term vs. long term dichotomy. We need to keep a long term perspective so we can continue to bear fruit for God throughout our lives,” said Brett. “Honestly, for us, there’s a feeling that there’s so much to learn at school.”

Balancing the demands of college life against the needs of their growing ministry is not easy, but Brett and Alex are not afraid of challenges. For three years they worked unpaid on The REBELUTION and related material. Only now, due to the success of their book, are the boys able to go on-salary. “The book has been a huge blessing,” said Alex, noting that it drew people to the conferences. “People came who had never heard of us, but had read our book. It has helped us reach a new demographic. Instead of conferences being 100 percent homeschoolers, we’re now seeing about fifty-fifty,” Alex said.

Along with the audience, the scope of the REBELUTION is expanding. The brothers explained that Rebelutionaries need to act. “As we move out of our teen years, and our message spreads, we want to be ready to provide resources to other young people so they can serve. We want to facilitate actions.”

Their second book, Start Here: Doing Hard Things Right Where You Are, debuts in March 2010. And until then, the Harris brothers will have plenty of opportunity to do hard things at PHC. After all, rounding out an already rigorous fall semester course load, they are both taking Con Law from PHC Chancellor, Dr. Michael Farris.