The Journey: Taking God's Route
Posted by sharon on Feb 12, 2020
He drove from Tennessee to Georgia for the start of what he thought would be his dream career. RV Brown had already talked with the general manager for the Atlanta Falcons, who almost guaranteed RV an entry level coaching position with the team. It was 1985, and RV saw himself rising through the ranks. Soon, he'd become the professional football coach he’d always wanted to be.
Still, his spiritual mentor saw things differently. He’d tell RV that God called him to full-time evangelism, not football. By then RV was traveling to different cities on weekends, proclaiming the Gospel at youth conferences. On weekdays, he coached high school students on the field and taught math and science in the classroom, a career that yielded a solid check to take care of his young family. It was a good fit at the time. Besides, RV didn’t know of any full-time traveling evangelists who were African-American, like him, so that route seemed far-fetched. He waited eagerly for that meeting with the Atlanta Falcons.
But the night before, the Falcons fired their general manager—and RV’s dreams went out the door with him. RV drove home feeling defeated, but with one thought ringing in his mind: What if his mentor was right? What if evangelism was his destiny?
RV grew up in a religious family, but never developed a true relationship with Jesus Christ until 1977, while a student at South Carolina State University. That’s when the football team’s chaplain spent eighteen months discipling him to study God’s Word and to love the Lord. After graduation, he landed a job as a high school sports coach in Chattanooga where teens needed his spiritual mentoring and positive role modeling even more than his athletic tips.
Now, RV began to feel that God, Himself, shut the door on his professional football dream. Had his high school coaching job just been a temporary platform to grow in his gift of evangelism? The more he prayed, the more he sensed God’s calling. He quit the high school coaching job and prepared to travel, spreading the Good News full-time.
That’s when his wife, Frances, told him, “You have lost your mind!” The couple had just bought a new home. They had a 2-year-old son and a 6-month-old daughter. Other relatives and close friends agreed with her. Not only had he taken a financial risk, but who ever heard of a black man making a living as an evangelist? Who did RV think he was—Billy Graham?
The intense backlash stirred doubt and discouragement. Early, in the wee hours one morning, RV couldn’t take it anymore. He journeyed to a wooded area behind his home, determined to hear God’s purpose clearly. Should he go back to high school coaching or take a chance and pursue evangelism? In the woods, he came upon a huge, jagged rock. Bare-chested, he threw himself face-down on the rock. For four hours he ignored the pain of its sharp edges cutting into his skin, while crying and imploring God to speak. He vowed not to move until God answered. Desperately, he said, “Lord, I will lose my life on this rock today.” Finally, as the sun crested for the start of the day, RV heard the Holy Spirit inside of him speak: “Why are you asking man about what I called you to do?” The Lord was telling him not to consult others about his calling; they wouldn’t understand. He had to trust God.
With his chest bleeding and scars that would last a lifetime, RV got off the rock, went home, and got down to business. He sought help from his mentor and others to make his evangelism ministry official. “I haven’t looked back yet,” he says. Soon youth organizations and business investors stepped up to support him.
The Browns encountered rough patches along the way, times when Frances’ job had to pay the bulk of the bills. Once, when she asked how they would possibly make it financially, RV told her not to worry. “That’s God’s business,” he said. Inevitably, they received checks from strangers who heard about their ministry and felt led to donate.
Today, more than 30 years later, RV Brown has preached and evangelized in 47 countries around the world. He claims 68 men as his “spiritual sons,” because he is the only father figure they’ve known. Their children call him Papa.
None of it would have happened, if he hadn’t stayed true to God’s call. When it comes to purpose, he says: “Walk in your purpose. Speak your purpose. Trust your purpose.”
Evangelist RV Brown is founder and president of Outreach to America's Youth, Inc. (O.T.A.Y.) He is the author of the workbook Breaking the Chain and the book Step Up to the Plate, Dad! He is the 16th of 17 brothers and sisters. He currently resides in the Tampa, Florida, area with his wife, Frances, their two adult children, Xavier and Sommer, and their grandchildren.
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