This is my first attempt to enlarge my horizons by publishing blogs. In order for you to decide if my blog might be worth your time to read let me introduce myself.
My name is Robert Glenn Brown, the oldest of eleven children born to
Robert and Eunice Brown. I am eighty-six years old, in good health and extremely active for a person my age. I have numerous interests. On the physical side, I enjoy playing tennis and golf regularly, am an avid gardener and travel extensively. On the family side, Donna and I have been married for fifty-six years. We have one daughter, Celia, and she and her husband, Steve, have blessed us with a grandson, Cody, and a grand daughter, Zoe, both are attending universities in California. On the spiritual side, I love to dig into Scripture and discover biblical truths that may have eluded me for years. I enjoy honest dialogue about doctrinal issues as long as Scripture remains the ultimate test for faith and practice.Does this brief bio sketch define me? Not really although it does provide some facts that many retired seniors might relate to.
How does a person define himself or herself? Some try to define themselves by their academic achievements. I have a reasonably good mind and have always enjoyed acquiring knowledge. I have pursued truth eagerly throughout my life time. I was blessed to be able to attend three fine universities in pursuit of my undergraduate degree. Thanks to the generosity of Uncle Sam I was able to attend two semesters at Trinity University in San Antonio and two more at the University of Hawaii in Oahu (1947-49) while serving in the Air Force. I completed my BA degree at Denver University, enrolling in 1950 after release from the Air Force and graduating in 1952. I acquired an ROTC commission upon graduation and was called into active duty in the Army during the Korean War era for two years.
Upon release from active duty in 1954 I enrolled in Denver Seminary and graduated with academic honors in 1958. Within weeks I was ordained to Christian ministry and married Donna Lee Wirth. In April 1960 I was called to active duty as a U.S. Navy Chaplain and assigned to serve the Marines at Camp Lejeune, N.C. I now had active service with the Army, Navy, Marines and Air Force. I never planned it that way; it just happened.
During my first sea duty following the assignment to the Marines I was selected to transfer into the Regular Navy which had more significance than I was aware of at the time. In 1966 I was selected to attend post-graduate studies at an institution of my choosing during the academic year 1967-68. I chose Princeton Seminary with a major in homiletics and liturgics. It was a great academic year for me as I studied under the tutelage of some of the finest theological minds available. Later, as I continued to do well in my career pattern, I was chosen to participate in an academic year of professional studies at the Navy’s Senior Chaplains’ School in Newport, R.I. 1973-74. I guess, if you add up all the years in school after high school it totals ten years or so. But here is something I discovered in my search for knowledge: There is so much I don’t know in comparison to what there is to know I still rate as an absolute dunce. Much of what I learned in the sciences is now obsolete. There are machines programmed with knowledge that are far more competent than I in many areas. The modern electronic marvels dazzle me and my grandchildren amaze me with their efficiency in manipulating them. My ignorance in multiple areas overwhelms me. How can I ever boast in my education?
Some define themselves by their careers. I have had three and am working on a fourth. My first full time career was as a Navy Chaplain. I retired from the Navy chaplaincy just a week shy of my fiftieth birthday with twenty-six years of cumulative service. I loved that part of my life and ministry and recall it fondly. My favorite title is still “Chaplain”. Following retirement I was asked to become pastor of an Assemblies of God church in Pleasanton, CA. I remained there nearly fourteen years. Adding that to the five years I served as pastor in Granby, Colorado before entering the chaplaincy gives me a pastoral career of nearly nineteen years. I retired from the pastorate near the end of 1991 when momentous events were occurring in Eastern Europe. Gorbachev announced the disintegration of the USSR in December 1991 and the hated wall came crashing down.
Freed from the dominance of Russian tyranny, new democratic republics in East Europe rapidly formed. These nations, long closed to the gospel, became open to the proclamation of Christian truth. In 1992 God laid ministry to this region upon the hearts of Donna and me. However, we had no idea which nation he wanted us to go to or what we would do there but we assured God we were available. In early 1993 an astounding series of providential events took place and I found myself sitting in the office of General Zoblotny, commanding General of a huge military complex in Western Ukraine near the Hungarian and Slovakian borders. Under the Soviet regime communist ideology had, in essence, been the official religion promoted within the Soviet armed forces. When the communist empire collapsed the failed ideology was rejected and some major military leaders were looking for a replacement to communism. General Zoblotny was considering Christianity. He said if I would come to his Command in Mukachevo, Ukraine, and demonstrate how American chaplains minister to military personnel he would provide office space and help find housing for Donna and me. I knew this was God’s response to our questions, “Where” and “What”.
I could scarcely believe the General’s offer. I knew this was my “Macedonian call.” I told the General I accepted his offer and would be back later that year after selling our home in California and getting my wife relocated in Washington. I went back alone in October while Donna stayed with our daughter Celia who was expecting her first child in November. That opened the door to a military ministry that lasted several years. When it wound down God began to open up other doors of ministry. I have returned to Ukraine every year since 1993, often twice a year. In 2013 I completed my thirty-seventh trip and may return again this fall. I have spent 21 years leading and helping develop a variety of ministries to this beautiful but troubled country. This includes helping establish new churches, purchasing buildings that were converted to churches, helping sponsor major international conferences, preaching in numerous churches, establishing an orphanage and partnering in the establishment of another.
My third career as a short term missionary may end soon as the years take their toll. But I have begun a fourth career that could become the most significant of all. After I became an octogenarian God led me to begin a writing ministry. So far I have written five books, three are non-fiction with theological themes. Another chronicles my years of ministry in Ukraine and the fifth is a thinking persons Christian novel. I believe these will continue to minister after I have gone to be with the Lord I delight in serving.
But the most amazing thing about each of my careers is my “Boss” who has supervised me in each of them. I never selected any of these careers. as a young man, the last thing I ever wanted to be was a preacher. When I enlisted in the Army Air Corps my motivation was to become qualified for the G.I. educational bill. When I was released from active duty I never planned to wear a military uniform again. In fact, I determined not to. I entered Denver University committed to prepare for a career in the athletic world as a coach. But then the Korean War erupted and all my plans changed.
As a young airman I had had an encounter with Jesus Christ and He challenged me to accept Him as Lord of my life. I accepted His challenge and surrendered my life and my hopes and plans for the future to His leadership. He became my “Boss” and has directed me into paths I would never have chosen for myself. In my wildest dreams I would never have imagined myself preaching to former Soviet troops in a major satellite nation of the powerful USSR. My “Boss”, the Lord Jesus Christ, worked out all the details and I just went along for the ride. And what a ride it has been. And it hasn’t all been easy. He led me to separate myself from my church where I had been an ordained minister for fifty-two years. My determination to follow Biblical truth wherever it led compelled me to sever theological relationships with people I respect and admire. Thank God, I still maintain a friendship with many of them. In addition, I have gained a host of friends across the nation and overseas who are outside the Pentecostal tradition.
I am convinced by Scripture that my church is in error when it incessantly insists that all valid baptisms in the Holy Spirit must be initially physically evidenced by speaking in tongues. However, I am Pentecostal in the sense that I firmly believe that scripture affirms that the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit is available to the church today. There is abundant evidence in global Christianity that the Holy Spirit still manifests His divine power in miracles and supernatural gifts in accordance with the truth of Scripture. These divine manifestations are in no manner limited to Pentecostals. I decry superficial emotionalism and stagnant traditionalism. I long for the awesome, holy presence of Almighty God who delights in revealing Himself to those that hunger and thirst after righteousness
In these blogs I will attempt to share insights from Scripture and lessons from life that I have gleaned in my journey. I will try to be as open and transparent as I am able. I will intentionally try to focus my blogs on the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the church today in light of Scripture. I continue to be a learner and approach God’s word with humility and anticipation. I recognize that church tradition and intractable doctrinal statements have supplanted biblical truth for many. I am convinced the Holy Spirit will lead us into truth if we are willing to follow…regardless of cost. I welcome your comments and insights and will respond to them as time permits.
Chaplain R. Glenn Brown
Published on on July 8th, 2014