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FIRST-PERSON: A few steps ahead of the crowd

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–Hundreds of church members and friends joined family members as they crowded into First Baptist Church of Creedmoor, N.C., while others stood outside to celebrate the life of Pastor Don Brown on Aug. 12. The unashamed tears shed throughout the service by many mourners attested to the enormous grief at his sudden home-going.

Earlier that morning the earthly remains of the beloved pastor had been buried in a private service for the family. Officiating was the church’s associate minister, Eddie Mauldin, who also serves as director of Damascus Home, a halfway house for recovering drug addicts located next door to the downtown church. Residents of the home served as pallbearers.

“Donny” Brown was always a step or two ahead of the crowd. His AAA personality demanded nothing less. He always seemed to dream bigger dreams than most, and his rugged determination to see a project through was his hallmark. His loyal, loving wife, Karen, who serves on the church staff, was his constant encourager and protector. But even she found it difficult to shield this energetic servant of God from a self-imposed work ethic that demanded his best and more.

Without “Donny” Brown’s total commitment to Damascus Home, this bold step of involvement by Baptists in reaching out to those who hurt because of devastating drug problems would never have been possible. He loved the concept of Christians lending a helping hand, and those who knew him could not help but follow his inspiring leadership. Every graduate of Damascus Home, “Donny’s” station of hope, bears the stamp of this man’s unwavering commitment to their bright futures as dedicated servants of the Lord.

In 1996 Donny joined with 75 area teenagers at the interstate to accompany his longtime friend and fellow advocate of Christ-centered treatment for the hurting, who had planned a brief visit to Damascus Home and its present residents on his first cross-country walk. Dressed in his burgundy sweat suit, waving proudly the banner of the halfway house, the Creedmoor pastor soon was walking a few steps ahead of the rest of the hikers.

Even now in heaven the saints must find it difficult to keep up with this child of God who constantly presses toward the mark of His high calling!

Jimmy Cooley, a 1995 graduate of the North Carolina halfway house who now resides in Texas, remembered the lasting influence of Pastor Brown during a recent telephone conversation. Cooley has established another Damascus Home, patterned after the original one, in the Red River region of east Texas.

“When he went to heaven, I felt like he passed the torch to me,” Cooley related, recalling how proud his mentor had been of his efforts. The new halfway house presently has three residents, and two others are away at a primary treatment facility in North Carolina. Cooley already is taking up the mantle of his energetic encourager. “I’m trying now to find a way to start up a Christ-centered primary treatment center here in Texas similar to Bethel Colony or Hebron Colony in North Carolina.”

Donny’s legacy lives on in the lives of those whom he touched at his “station of hope.” It is our prayer that this compassionate concern for others will become contagious, as Donny’s torch is passed on to all who share our conviction that hurting ones need not wear their nametags of addict or alcoholic forevermore. They can, like us, be recovered forever by the grace of God.
Stone and Barber, of Durham, N.C., are coauthors of two books on alcohol and drug abuse, “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Hurts” and “The Drug Tragedy — Hope for the One Who Cares,” both available from LifeWay Christian Stores.

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  • Ted G. Stone & Philip Barber