I believe our stories are important. In Part Two, I share mine.
My story – a little about myself
I was born in Atlanta, Georgia, on July 3, 1959. I have lived in Georgia for most of my life. Currently, my wife, Cindy, and I live in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. We moved to north Idaho in 2009.
I was raised in the Southern Baptist church since birth. I came to Christ at the age of seven. I tell people that I was a Baptist before I was a Christian! Yes, at the tender age of seven, in my heart I knew that Jesus loved me, and I loved Jesus. I knew I was a sinner. I knew Jesus gave His life for me and I am confident to this day that at seven I repented and received Christ as my life.
Like many, I have doubted my salvation and at times I have doubted the very existence of God. Doubting seems to be a part of the faith growth experience.
A defining time in my life was a six-month period, at the age of nine, when I was abused by a neighbor who lived next door. Looking back at it, he was probably an older teenager, 17 or 18. We had moved to a house in Powder Springs, Georgia, and we lived there for six months. The abuse resulted in 25 years of depression.
As a young adult, I received biblical counseling. After four years God healed me from a depressive state that I had lived in for over two decades!
Although this book isn’t about my childhood abuse, much of my story is greatly impacted by it. If you are currently suffering from abuse of any kind or if you have had suffered abuse in the past, find a trusted, mature Christian and tell them. Telling is the first real step to healing.
Secrecy is Satan’s weapon to keep us in our prisons. When we tell a trusted, mature Believer, the prison door flies open, and we can begin to find the healing we need and the ability to walk in the newness of life Christ came to give.
July 13, 1980, at the age of 21, I married the love of my life. My marriage to Cindy Richardson has, without a doubt, been THE most important aspect of my life on this earth. I don’t know how I came to deserve this beautiful woman as my life partner. God has used the journey we have traveled and the experiences we have shared to mold me into the person I am, today.
As I stated earlier, we moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho in 2009. Soon after, our two adult children, Nathan and Mindy, followed. They both married Coeur d’Alene kids – well, they all are still kids to us. We are beginning to have grandchildren and life is good!! God is doing things through us in Idaho that could have never happened in Georgia. I am so grateful to God for His provision in our lives.
My Call to Ministry
God called me to be a pastor at a young age – 14. We were at youth camp when I felt that calling. I told my pastor and he had me preaching the first Sunday we returned home!
I had my first ministry position at 17, in the summer of 1977, at the Rockridge Baptist assembly, in Franklin, Georgia. There, I met the youth group at the King Springs Baptist Church, from Smyrna, Georgia. That led to my first youth pastor gig. Cindy and I got married in 1980 and we were off to the ministerial races. At the writing of this book, I am in my 42nd year of ministry.
The Founding of Reach America, Inc.
As a pastor, I have always been active in the community. In 1990, when Magic Johnson of the LA Lakers announced that he was HIV Positive, the world turned on its ear. All the sudden our school systems were bombarded with requests to do “sex education”.
With no male teachers in the fourth grade where my children attended, the principal asked me if I would teach “human growth and development” for fourth-grade boys. I consented. This started a ball rolling that would define my life for the next two decades.
What began with a phone call from the principal of a tiny elementary school south of Covington, Georgia, turned into a national education consulting business. We opened an office in Washington, DC, impacting the US Congress and the way children and youth were taught “sex education” in many communities and states across America. For 19 years, I was a leader in what became the “Abstinence Education Movement”.
In 2006, God led me to start Reach America, Inc. to help facilitate my education and leadership training. Through Reach America, I was blessed to have worked with leaders in education and public health in every region of the country on every level of government – local, state and federal. I have seen, up-close, how our government, education, and public health systems work. I have sat at the table with the leading conservative groups in America to develop strategies. I have trained thousands of teachers, administrators, community leaders, church leaders, and parents.
I attended and influenced congressional hearings, participated in regional educational think-tanks, assisted in community strategy sessions with state education departments and local school districts.
The expansion of the Abstinence Movement was possible because it was embraced by President George W. Bush. However, in 2008, with the election of Barack Obama, everything changed. All the sudden, many of the communities we were helping lost funding and I was sent scrambling for what to do, next.
Following the advice of a friend, we loaded up the truck and moved to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Yes, we moved lock, stock, and barrel, 2,400 miles to a land we have never seen. And it has been the best thing the Brown clan ever did.
God blessed us by enabling us to merge with another Christian ministry, Highway Evangelism. Now, through Reach America, we own the only Christian bookstore in north Idaho and southwestern Canada, and we are about to launch a Kingdom strategy that is going to greatly impact the northwest and beyond.
The Lord is good. We have been blessed.
I’d love to hear your story. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.