An evangelist, author, and the founder/president of Outreach to America’s Youth, Brown took a few hours last month to share the love of Jesus with Charlotteans and talk with our team about the importance of evangelism.
Q: Why are you so passionate about evangelism? Where did that passion come from?
Brown: It really developed through my dad. My dad raised 17 children. Everybody in my community knew my dad. Any time something needed to be done or said, people came to my dad. So I saw my dad give people food when he had 17 children of his own. He had the passion to love other people.
When people talk about black and white – there were white kids who ate at my table all the time. There was no such thing like that with us. My daddy was a people person, so that makes me a people person.
As I watched my dad love my mom, it showed me how to love my wife. Everything you see me do, I’m just mimicking my dad. That’s why it’s so important for men to step up and take the lead and set down the seed. My dad planted a seed in me, now the seed is germinating through the grace of Jesus Christ. Then it developed when I got to college. I knew who God was, but I didn’t have a personal relationship.
Q: How did you begin your relationship with Christ?
Brown: I went off to college – South Carolina State College – and for two years a chaplain, Dr. Nathaniel Griffin, kept talking about Jesus. And I said, “I’m in college, I don’t want to hear this stuff.” After my sophomore year, I got married. So after I got married, I visited that chaplain’s church. On Nov. 22, 1977, I got saved and he developed my passion.
Q: How did that passion play out in your daily life?
Brown: I started a Fellowship of Christians Athletes chapter on my campus. I also started a ministry to the football team, and the coaches, and the professors. The minute I got saved, it was all the way – no holds barred. I wanted other people to get saved like I got saved.
When I graduated from college and moved to Chattanooga, I started teaching at an upper middle class school for one year. Then they sent me to a hard core school, which was the best thing that ever happened to me. That’s where I saw the need. I coached there for five years and after five years, I saw the need to reach these kids and their parents. So I walked off my job in 1985 to go into the ministry full time.
They told me, there’s no such thing as an African-American evangelist. I said, “If God calls you to do something, He don’t worry about what you look like on the outside – it’s what you care about and your passion.”
Q: And God must have honored your choice. Tell us more.
Brown: My passion grew from being a coach, and a teacher, and a man of God, and a dad. That’s what makes me love evangelism so much because it’s something special. I think the word evangelist or evangelism is in the Bible only three times; three times God put that word in there, but everybody did it. From Abraham and Moses all the way up to John in the book of Revelation, they were all evangelists. They didn’t have churches; they kept moving. And that’s what we’ve got to do.
My heart and passion is to see people saved. So if I can go to this country, and that country, and this state, and get people excited about Jesus Christ … I am tired of seeing people who are Christians but there is no excitement. There’s no joy. So my job and an evangelist’s job is to go in and encourage the church and encourage the pastor to get excited about Jesus Christ.
Q: How did you get involved with BGEA and Franklin Graham?
Brown: I was in Vicksburg, Miss., in ’91 or ’92 to speak at a youth rally, but I didn’t realize it was connected to a Billy Graham Crusade at that time. Some guy walked up to me and asked me for a business card. They came to Chattanooga and checked me out. People kept asking me, “Why is Billy Graham’s ministry asking questions about you?” So that’s how I got connected with the BGEA.
The way I got connected to Franklin Graham was through his wife, Jane. I spoke at N.C. State and a lot of players and coaches got saved. So Anne and Danny Lotz worked with the Fellowship of Christian Athletes in that area. Anne called Jane and told Jane, “You need to get R.V. up at Appalachian State.” Jane called me and I told her I couldn’t do it because, at that time, I was a chaplain and a pastor for the University of Florida. I said “I can’t come; I can’t get away.”
But that lady called me 21 times in seven days! And she told me, “You’ve got to come.” I’ve been doing that for the last two years. And being around Franklin on the sidelines … that’s why I am here today. God was using me to speak to N.C. State and now I am here with Franklin and I’m loving every minute. I am excited to be part of the team.
Q: How would you describe the value of an organization like BGEA?
Brown: BGEA reaches the community. So many times, the church is committed to what is going on inside the walls. They don’t go outside. That’s why I love evangelism, because evangelism is not inside the church. That’s where BGEA is so valuable to this society, so valuable to this country, because they are outside the church. They are not trying to take over the church. They support the pastors. That’s the most important thing that I see Dr. Graham, and Franklin, and now Will do.
They are able to reach people nobody else can reach. There may be a guy on the street who will go to a Crusade. He won’t go to church, and might say, “I can’t go to church because I don’t dress well.” So if we reach the people that nobody else will reach out to, that’s the most important thing.