Dr. John Lincoln Brandt, David's grandfather, previously uninterested in his family's religion, had a dramatic conversion in his mid 20s, and immediately entered full-time Christian service. For years he was a Methodist circuit rider. He later became a leader of the Alexander Campbell movement of the Disciples of Christ, an informal drop-out group that was frequently at odds with the established denominations of its day.
Virginia Brandt Berg, David's mother, is the individual whom he credits for influencing him the most. Although raised in a Christian home, Virginia became an atheist and wild society girl during her college years. Despairing of her frivolous lifestyle, she devoted her life to social work. However, shortly after the birth of her first child, she broke her back in an accident and spent the next five years as a bedridden invalid, often hovering near death. After a conversion experience, she was miraculously raised from her deathbed, and spent the rest of her life with her husband, Hjalmer, in active Christian service as a pastor and evangelist.
Virginia and Hjalmer were no strangers to controversy. They were expelled from the Christian Church after publicly testifying of her divine healing, which was contrary to church doctrine. They subsequently joined a new denomination, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, shortly before David's birth in 1919. In later years, their missionary zeal and disdain for denominational politicking often set them at variance with the conservative faction of that church's hierarchy, causing them to work largely as independent pastors and evangelists.
David spent his early years traveling with his parents, who pursued their evangelical mission with a passion. In 1924 they settled in Miami, Florida, after Virginia successfully led a series of large revivals at the Miami Gospel Tabernacle. This became David's home for the next 14 years, while his mother and father pastored a number of Miami churches.
Having been brought up in a conservative Christian environment, at times David yearned for a taste of "worldly" secular life, away from the watchful eye of his mother. His chance came in early 1942 when he was drafted into the U.S. Army following the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
After a few months of basic training, he fell sick with double pneumonia and a severely damaged heart. While in a near-comatose condition, David promised God that if he was healed, he would dedicate the remainder of his life to full-time Christian service. He immediately experienced a miraculous recovery. Although the doctors acknowledged that David's healing was spectacular, they subsequently discovered that his heart was enlarged and leaky, and so discharged him from the army. David spent the next 52 years in active Christian ministry.
In 1944, David met and married Jane Miller, a dedicated member of the Alliance Church in Sherman Oaks, California. Daughter, Linda, was born a year later, followed by son, Paul, in 1947. With a growing family, he applied for a pastorate, and in late 1948 began ministering at a small Christian and Missionary Alliance church in rural Arizona. Two more children, Jonathan and Faithy, were born during this time. David built a new church and encouraged his largely white congregation to integrate with the Native and Mexican-American population of the community, to whom he opened the doors of the church. The church board members were outraged, and in early 1951 he was abruptly forced to resign his pastorate.
For the next 15 years, David was engaged in a wide variety of occupations and ministries. He taught secondary school, held a number of other secular jobs, attended several secular and Christian colleges, opened and ran a small training center for missionaries, and traveled the U.S. booking an evangelical program on radio and television. For several years, David traveled the U.S., booking Fred Jordan's "Church in the Home" show on over a 1,000 radio and TV stations.