15: My Brother's Keeper

Posted : admin On 8/23/2021

Season 2, Episode 15 My Brother's Keeper First Aired: January 13, 1992 On the basketball court, winning is everything to Will, as it is to an opponent (Allen Payne) from Malibu Prep, who can't. My Brother's Keeper, Marcia Davenport, Scribner's, 1954 1st edition (A), 457 pages. VG book in VG DJ. Description: Book; Green boards with gold block on the spine with the title knocked out, as is the publisher's name. Author's last in gold, gold devise above title block and two devised knocked out of a gold stripe also on the spine. President Obama launched My Brother’s Keeper in February 2014 to address persistent opportunity gaps facing boys and young men of color and to ensure all youth can reach their full potential. In 2015 the My Brother’s Keeper Alliance (MBK Alliance) was launched, inspired by My Brother’s Keeper, to scale and sustain this mission.

Details about Brother’s Keeper 7*

Application: Brother’s Keeper
Current Version: 7.3
Supported OS: Windows, Mac
Mobile Apps: None
Price: $45
Publisher: John Steed
Website: http://www.bkwin.com
GenSoftReviews: 4.66 stars out of 5

Version tested: Brother’s Keeper 7.1.11

Portions of text in all capital letters that are not acronyms are GEDCOM tags, with the rest of the plain text field name in lowercase. References to the GEDCOM standard are to version 5.5.1 unless stated otherwise.

Importing a GEDCOM file into Brother’s Keeper (BK) is straightforward, but instructions are in the Help file if you need them; just go to “gedcom import” in the Index. I have two tips that refer to Fig 1:

  1. If you have multimedia linked to your GEDCOM, check the box “Include names of pictures and media files”
  2. If your GEDCOM came from Family Tree Maker or Ancestry.com, check the box “Set this option if you want to add a space between CONC lines”



+ GEDCOM import log: All good genealogy apps should produce a GEDOM import error log, and BK produces a text file called GED.LST; when given the option to open it, I recommend that you do. Otherwise, you’ll have to change the extension to “txt” or right-click on it and select “Open With.” It’s clear from the report that BK expects GEDCOMs to be in version 5.5 format, but more about this under Cons. Unfortunately, the report lists problems by BK’s person number; it would be nice if it listed problems by GEDCOM line number to make it easier to find them.

+ FTM’s invalid use of the ALIA tag: Family Tree Maker (FTM) prior to versions 3.1 and 2014.1 and a few other apps incorrectly use the ALIA tag in GEDCOMs for the “Also Known As” field. The ALIA tag should be used to provide a cross-reference to another person who may be the same. The closest the GEDCOM standard has to “Also Known As” is the Nickname field, whose tag is NICK, or the Name Type tag, which is rarely used. BK imported ALIA as “Also Known As” and exported it with custom tag _AKAN. However, BK did not import correctly structured ALIA references, nor is there any way to add them.

+ Invalid event description: For birth, death, and marriage events, the only entry that an event description (called a “descriptor” in the standard) may have is the letter “Y” to assert that the event occurred, if and only if both the date and place are blank. Many genealogy apps violate this rule, including FTM, which enabled me to include it in my test GEDCOM file. BK correctly did not import the invalid event description in my file but also did not warn me about it in the import report.

+ Family Events: Organized the event Separation along with other family events, even though it used the generic event structure. However, it exported Separation using a custom tag instead of the EVEN tag.


+ Places: You can add notes and photos to places in BK, which may be useful; the notes are exported to NOTE tags while the photos aren’t exported at all, both of which are correct.

+ Associations: An association in genealogy is a relationship between two people, usually but not necessarily non-familial. Associates could be godparents, sponsors, witnesses, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. They’re often summarized using the acronym FAN for “Friends, Associates, Neighbors.” While the FAN club principle of cluster genealogy is often advocated, few apps that I’ve reviewed have a field for associates, and even fewer use the standard GEDCOM structure for them. In BK you can add witnesses to all events; unfortunately, “witness” is the only type of association BK has, and there’s no way to add others like “godparent,” “friend,” etc. When exporting the association to GEDCOM, BK uses the custom tag _EVN to indicate which event the person was a witness for; I doubt if many other apps can read this tag.

+ Help: The BK built-in Help file is fairly detailed, and there is an active BK mailing list at RootsWeb.




— GEDCOM 5.5.1 tags: Failed to import FACT, EMAIL, FAX, PHONe and WWW tags, even though my GEDCOM was labelled version 5.5.1, and there was no mention of these tags in the GEDCOM import report. However, BK was able to export these tags.

Secondary Names: These are name structures that occur after the first name structure in an individual’s record in a GEDCOM file. BK imported alternate names but exported them using the custom tag _OTHN instead of an additional instance of the NAME tag There are also separate fields for Name Prefix, Suffix, Nickname, and Title, which are standard GEDCOM fields, but only Suffix, Nickname, and Title are exported to GEDCOM, using the standard tags.

Adoptive parents’ relationships: BK imported an adoptive relationship, but there was no way to display or change the adoptive status that I could find. Also BK used the custom tags _FREL and _MREL to export relationships between parents and children (adopted, birth, etc.) instead of the standard tag PEDI.

— Source citations: Imported “Where Within Source” field (tag PAGE) on source citations into the citation comments and exported them to the NOTE tag. BK has a Page/Reel number field; it should import the PAGE tag into this field instead of the comments/notes. When I filled in a Page/Reel number field, it was correctly exported to the PAGE tag.

— Notes: Failed to display all person notes; only displayed one of two notes on a person. However, all notes were exported back to GEDCOM, so they must be stored internally. If they’re imported and stored, they should be displayed.

— Valid Event Descriptions: The GEDCOM 5.5.1 standard allows generic events to have descriptions, even when there is a date and/or place. For example, I have the following valid structure in my GEDCOM:

“Mayor” is the event description; GEDCOM 5.5.1 allows Event Descriptors on the EVEN tag, and my GEDCOM was labelled as version 5.5.1. This was a change in 5.5.1 (p. 48); previous versions did not allow descriptors on events. BK imports and exports valid event descriptions, but Location (place) and Description fields are combined into one box on the Person Edit window, which is awkward (Fig 2). Place names are preceded by “Location” if there is also a description (which there should only be for attributes and generic events). This is problematic because the description and place are exported together in the GEDCOM file—there is no separate place tag. There should be separate fields for Location and Description.

— UTF-8 Encoding: BK does not fully support UTF-8 encoding. My test file contained the name “Märîjá /Rüßkövęñškæ/,” and BK’s GEDCOM import log stated, “Had a problem converting some characters from line: 1 NAME Märîjá /RüßkövXñXkæ/.” No kidding! My test file also contained “Johann /孔子/,” which BK imported as “Johann /XX/,” but the import log didn’t say anything about it.


— GEDCOM 5.5.1: All GEDCOM files have a GEDCOM version tag so that the apps that process them can interpret them correctly, since there are differences in structure among the various versions. As I’ve explained elsewhere, modern genealogy apps should be able to import and export version 5.5.1, which is the current standard. GEDCOMs exported from BK are labelled with version 5.5, even when they use features of 5.5.1 like the UTF-8 character set and the EMAIL, FAX, WWW, LAT and LONG tags. Apps must label their GEDCOMs with the version of the features and structures that they use.

Miscellaneous Events: Allows user-defined events to be added using an event called “Event,” but there’s no way to add the Event Type; consequently, they’re missing the required TYPE tag when exported to GEDCOM.

— Birth, death, and marriage events without date or place: exported without required “Y.” The GEDCOM 5.5 standard explicitly says, “The absence of both of these tags require [sic] a Y(es) value on the parent TAG line to assert that the event happened. Using this convention protects GEDCOM processors which may remove (prune) lines that have no value and no subordinate lines” (p. 32).

— Multimedia: Events/Facts may not have multimedia in BK. Some users may find this to be a serious limitation. However, media can be attached to people, places, sources, and citations. In addition, there are no fields for media dates, notes, or reference numbers. If your imported GEDCOM contains them, they will be lost.

— Character Sets: BK offers three character sets that were not available in GEDCOM 5.5: DOS, Windows ANSI, and UTF-8. Version 5.5 permitted only ANSEL, ASCII (USA Version), and Unicode would have referred to UTF-16. BK does offer “Ansel (normal for gedcom [sic]),” which is properly written “ANSEL” because it’s an acronym for “American National Standard for Extended Latin,” just as GEDCOM is a portmanteau of “GEnealogical Data Communication.” As the NISO website states, ANSEL was Administratively withdrawn by ANSI, so I think that means it’s not normal for ANSEL to be used anymore in GEDCOMs or anything else. The most widely used character set now is UTF-8, which was added to GEDCOM 5.5.1, so for this reason, BK should export files according to version 5.5.1.

Name prefixes: Failed to export them, even though it imported them.

— LDS Child Sealing: Missing required FAMC (child’s family) tag.

— User-Defined (Custom) Fields: BK uses too many user-defined tags in exported GEDCOMs, sometimes when there are standard tags that should have been used, like PEDI (Pedigree Linkage Type) instead of _FREL or _MREL. The GEDCOM standard discourages these, for good reason: most other applications will ignore them, since they’re not defined in the standard. The standard has two generic tags that should be used when there are no standard tags, EVEN (for events) and FACT (for facts or attributes).


Clicking on headings in in the Person Edit window has no effect; the expected behavior is to sort the events. The only way to sort them is to manually move them up or down.

In the Address and Place Details (Other) forms, I couldn’t tab from one field to the next.

Most genealogy apps have one or more indexes of people, places, sources, media, etc. I could find only an index of individuals, and it appears only if you select Find in the Person Edit window and type “* *” in the Name or Number field (Fig 3). I think good genealogy apps should have easy-to-use indexes of all the major record types in addition to a Find function.


GEDCOM Crosswalk

I added the BK fields to the GEDCOM Crosswalk at Family Tree Maker to GEDCOM to Other Apps Crosswalk. This table shows at a glance how the major genealogy apps name their fields within the app and how they are exported to GEDCOM. The color coding indicates areas of concern: fields in red are not imported and/or exported correctly, while fields in yellow use custom tags that may not be recognized by other apps or websites.

First Impressions

BK has been around a long time, since at least 1988 according to its trademark filing, and the interface looks quite dated to me (see Fig 2 above, although the color scheme was my choice); it looks like it would be quite at home on Windows 95 or even Windows 3. Some people care about appearances, and some people don’t. However, the appearance gives an indication of how much an app has been updated. While BK may be up to version 7, it hasn’t even updated to the most current GEDCOM version. This review focused on GEDCOM handling, because the ability to import and export correctly is one of the most important criteria for an app; GEDCOM is usually how family trees are exchanged between people using different apps. It’s unfortunate that BK doesn’t label its GEDCOMs as version 5.5.1, because that’s really what they are, since they offer the UTF-8 character set as an option, as well as tags like EMAIL and WWW. BK’s next most serious shortcoming is its failure to provide fields for multimedia dates and notes; it also doesn’t allow multimedia to be attached to events. If the developer can be convinced to fix these major shortcomings, then BK might be worth another look—if you don’t mind a retro 90s look.

GEDCOM 5.5.1 Test: Brother’s Keeper fails the GEDCOM 5.5.1 Test. It incorrectly labels files exported using UTF-8 encoding as version 5.5; UFT-8 wasn’t allowed in 5.5.


30 Apr 2016: Added a statement about the GEDCOM 5.5.1 Test.

21 May 2016: Added a paragraph about UTF-8 encoding support.

22 May 2018: Made minor updates.

The Family Tree Software Alternatives Series

Part 1: How to Scrub Your Data
Part 2: How to Get Your Tree out of FTM
Part 3: RootsMagic 7
Part 4: Reunion 11
Part 5: MacFamilyTree 8
Part 6: Family Tree Builder 8
Part 7: Heredis 2015
Part 8: Gramps 5
Part 9: iFamily for Mac
Part 10: GEDitCOM II
Part 11: Legacy Family Tree 8
Part 12: Ancestral Quest 14
Part 13: Family Historian 6
Part 14: Should You Stick with Family Tree Maker?
Part 15: Brother’s Keeper 7
How Well Does Ancestry.com Handle GEDCOM?
Family Tree Maker to GEDCOM to Other Apps Crosswalk
The Perils of Following the GEDCOM Standard
Why All Genealogy Apps Should Support GEDCOM 5.5.1

*Information current as of the date of this post

A tramp was looking for a handout one day in a picturesque old English village. Hungry almost to the point of fainting, he stopped by a pub bearing the classic name, Inn of St. George and the Dragon.

“Please, ma’am, could you spare me a bite to eat?” he asked the lady who answered his knock at the kitchen door.

“A bite to eat?” she growled. “For a sorry, no-good, foul-smelling beggar? No!” she snapped as she almost slammed the door on his hand.

Halfway down the lane the tramp stopped, turned around and eyed the words, St. George and the Dragon. He went back and knocked again on the kitchen door.

“Now what do you want?” asked the woman angrily.

“Well, ma’am, if St. George is in, may I speak with him this time?”

–David Augsburger, The Freedom of Forgiveness

The American Quaker poet, John Greenleaf Whitter wrote,

Somehow, not only for Christmas

But all the long year through,

The joy that you give to others

Is the joy that comes back to you.

And the more you spend in blessing

15: My Brother

The poor and the lonely and sad,

The more of your heart’s possessing

Return to make you glad

Isn’t it fun to give gifts at Christmastime? I love buying and giving gifts. But I have a confession to make – I’m not a very giving person. Once Christmastime is over, many of us stop giving. I know that many of you are great at giving – for some it’s even an obvious spiritual gift, but others of you, like me, struggle with giving.

Let me ask you,

  • How does it make you feel to see someone at an Interstate ramp holding up a sign asking for help?
  • How do you respond when someone at a gas station comes up to you asking for money?
  • Or perhaps you have friends or family members who sometimes hit you up for help?

I don’t know if you share my struggles with this, but my first reaction is not usually one of charity and concern, but rather one of distrust and suspicion.

If I am being even more transparent, there are certain types of people I don’t trust. There are certain people that, when I look at them, I become judgmental. I begin thinking that they have probably made a lot of bad decisions, that they don’t have much hope for the future, that they are not very educated, and perhaps…due to their carelessness, they deserve the life they have. That’s an awful way to think isn’t it? But unfortunately, if we’re being honest, many of us think like that.

I am also bad at giving sometimes because the needs of this world feel so insurmountable that I don’t know where to begin. There are so many dysfunctional families that are uneducated and living out a cycle of poverty, there are orphaned children and widows, there are homeless people, there are families living out of their cars, not to mention the people that are starving to death in third-world countries. There are such needs that it can become overwhelming and somewhat debilitating.

I don’t know what to do personally sometimes and I have even gone back and forth about how our society should handle it. Politicians debate this – how should we do welfare or should there even be welfare? How should we tax people? Should taxes be the same for everyone or should those who are better off take more responsibility and carry some of the burden? Interestingly it’s always the religious conservatives that are almost always adamant that the rich shouldn’t have to help the poor. These are indeed difficult issues.

Thankfully, as we dive back into the gospel of Luke this morning, Jesus addresses this topic. But before we can get into today’s passage of Scripture I need to bring you back up to speed on where we are in Luke’s gospel and what Jesus is doing as He brings this message.

Back in chapter 14, verses 25-35 Jesus challenged those listening to Him with some strong words about what a disciple was. He broke it down into three statements about what it took to be a disciple, namely;

  • Anyone who wanted to follow Him must love Him and be committed to Him so much that their commitment to their family and even themselves must, in comparison, look like hate.
  • Anyone who wanted to follow Him must be willing to give up their life.
  • Anyone who wanted to follow Him must be willing to give up everything they had.

After that talk the Pharisees became increasingly aggravated with Him and under their breath, one of the Pharisees, in 15:2 said in a derogatory way, “This man welcomes sinners and eats with them.” That comment invoked the next two chapters worth of response from Jesus as He defended why that statement was very true and taught those listening (and us) that we should model our lives after Him – welcoming and helping the lost and needy.

Mah jongg 2019 2020. So in chapter 15 Jesus shares three parables that show how important the lost are to Him; the Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son, and in the first half of chapter 16, using the Parable of the Shrewd Manager He taught that we cannot serve both God and money and He reminded His listeners that they were not the owners of their money so they should use it to influence the kingdom of God.

15: My Brother

Now in the second half of chapter 16, beginning in verse 19 we read,

19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.

22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

25 “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

30 ” ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

31 “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ”

Continuing his response to the Pharisees who accused Him of befriending the wrong people, Jesus now moves from teaching about how important the lost are to Him and how we must serve God rather than money to teaching that we must act in compassion toward those who are poor.

As a way of teaching this lesson, Jesus tells this story about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. This story is one of sharp contrasts. On the one hand you have the rich man who is very wealthy. He lives in a home with a gate and wears clothes made of purple dye. He dresses in fine linen. On the other hand you have Lazarus, a man with nothing, who lies at his gate, begging, covered with sores, longing to eat the bread crumbs from the rich man’s table, and having his sores licked by wild dogs on the streets. This licking by the dogs, by the way, is significant as it makes Lazarus ceremonially unclean.

My Brother's Keeper Furniture

As you can imagine, the rich man probably saw Lazarus daily, since he was lying at the gate to his house, but much like the folks we see at interstate exit ramps, rather than a child of God who needed help, Lazarus was a source of nuisance and aggravation to the rich man. Very likely the rich man thought that helping Lazarus would require a lot of time and would, in the end, be a waste of money. Can you relate?

As the story continues, both men die and once again we see contrast. The rich man is buried, which likely means that he had a nice funeral including professional paid mourners and a nice casket. Lazarus on the other hand is not said to be buried. He likely lied there dead for a while and then had his body dumped along with refuse somewhere. However, we are told that Lazarus was carried by angels to Abraham’s bosom.

Let me interrupt the flow of the story for a moment to discuss the concepts of Abraham’s bosom and Hades which are found in this story.

There are three Greek words in the New Testament translated by the one English word “hell,” which fact results in some confusion in our thinking.

The word used in our passage today is “Hades,” which means “The Unseen.” This was the technical Greek religious term used to designate the world of those who departed this life. The “Hades” of the pagan Greeks was the invisible land, the realm of shadow, where all Greeks went, the virtuous, to a part called Elysium, the wicked to another part called Tartarus.

The difference between the pagan and Biblical conceptions of Hades is that the pagans conceived of Hades as the final abode of the dead, whereas the Bible teaches that it is the temporary place of confinement until:

  1. a) the Great White Throne Judgment (in the case of the wicked), and
  2. b) until the resurrection of Christ which, of course has already happened
    (in the case of the righteous)

As the pagan conception of Hades included two parts, the Biblical idea divided it into two parts also;

  1. a) one called paradise or “Abraham’s bosom,” for the righteous, and
  2. b) another part for the wicked having no specific designation except the general word “Hades”[1]

In the midst of these thoughts, I want to point out that Jesus wasn’t trying to teach eschatology here, the focus of this parable was on the rich man’s treatment of Lazarus. In essence, Jesus is simply using the stories of chapters 14-16 to reiterate His teaching of the Great Commandment.

  • In laying down the three expectations of His followers in chapter 14 and pointing out that no one can serve two masters in the first half of chapter 16 Jesus was teaching that we must obey the greatest commandment to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.
  • And with His teaching in chapter 15 about the importance of reaching the lost and now with this story of the rich man and Lazarus Jesus is teaching the second greatest commandment that we must love our neighbors as ourselves.

Are we our brother’s keeper?! Jesus gives us a resounding YES!!!

All of these teachings came in response to the Pharisees charge that Jesus was in essence “a friend of sinners.” So let me ask you disciples of Jesus;

  • Would the Pharisees charge you with the same thing?
  • Do you spend time with the lost?
  • Do you give to the poor?
  • Does your life really look like Jesus’?

Do you remember how the lost and the hurting and the poor responded to Jesus? They FLOCKED to Him! I want this to be a church that other Christians complain about because we accept sinners and we spend time with societies’ “misfits.” I want hurting people to know they can come here and find grace. I want us to look more like Jesus.

In 2012, individually and corporately as a church, we need to:

  1. Share Jesus’ compassion for the lost and the poor. The Bible says,

Leviticus 15:35 ” ‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so he can continue to live among you.

Deuteronomy 15:7 – If there is a poor man among you in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted or tightfisted toward your poor brother. 8 Rather be openhanded and freely lend him whatever he needs.

Matthew 19:21 Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

My Brother's Keeper Control

Proverbs 14:21 – He who despises his neighbor sins, but blessed is he who is kind to the needy.

Proverbs 19:17 – He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord, and he will reward him for what he has done.

Proverbs 28:27 – He who gives to the poor will lack nothing, but he who closes his eyes to them receives many curses.

We must share Jesus’ compassion for the lost and the poor.

  1. Use our time wisely, focusing on what is most important.The rich man in the story thought he had life by the tail. Everything was going just fine for him and then, boom, it was over, and not only did his riches mean nothing, his opportunity to talk with his brothers about eternal matters was over.

Often we spend time a lot of time on things that don’t matter. Imagine what you could accomplish if you’d throw away your TV or cancel your Facebook account. You might have time to talk to your neighbors or reconnect with family members who don’t know Christ.

The rich man in the story was focused on work and his busy schedule which brought him money and things. Doesn’t sound far off from our culture does it? But when he died things of eternal significance suddenly came to the forefront of his mind. Although to the best of our knowledge he wasn’t a religious man one of the first things he wished he could do was go back and convince his brothers not to make the same mistake he did.

We hear people joke about going to hell, they say things like, “Well, at least I’ll be among friends.” But in the story you’ll notice that he had no friends to talk to. Hell was no laughing matter, he was in torment and agony and he wished something could be done about it, but it was too late.

Friends, the time to get right with God is now. The time to talk to your family about Christ is now. Don’t wait until it’s too late. We must use the short time that God has given us wisely.

  1. We must make obedience to God more important in our minds than knowledge about God.

My Brother's Keeper Genealogy

This is a huge problem for most churches. We make knowledge of Scripture, knowledge about God the ultimate goal once we come to know Christ. But knowledge is not the goal, the goal is transformation.

This year is the beginning of transformation for University Baptist Church. We are going to being heading down a route that will lead us to a more biblical picture of what God has called us to do. He has called us to make disciples and I want this to become the heartbeat of this church.

As we grow in our obedience to Christ, I believe we will naturally do more evangelism than any of us have ever done before. I think we’ll grow closer to the Lord as we take baby steps of obedience to Him. And I think we will love the lost and the needy in a greater way than we have ever imagined.

Over the next several months we will be beginning Cell groups in people’s houses that will allow for transparent sharing of our lives, application of that week’s message, and outreach to our friends and neighbors.

I want to encourage you to make 2012 the beginning of a new way of life for yourself. May we all put God and His ways first in our lives this year.

My Brother's Keeper Romania

[1] Wuest, K. S. (1997). Wuest’s word studies from the Greek New Testament : For the English reader. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans.