Jon Brown passed away just 8 days before his 39th birthday. It was surprising, tragic, and shocking. It was way too soon for those of us who knew and loved him. It was just when Jon was finally getting momentum toward the “abundant life” (John 10:10) Jesus had long promised him, that for years he had been resisting. Yet maybe in God’s perfect timing it was “at just the right time” (Romans 5:6).
Jon’s life had been dominated; his talents limited by the bondage of substance abuse since high school. He had attempted many recovery programs. He had been associated with His Way since our beginnings in 2007, but first came in as a resident the summer of 2019. He sadly stayed only 4 days. He returned for 3 months in December, but admittedly resisted and undermined our recovery efforts the entire time.
On May 4, 2020, he returned, with an obvious repentant spirit. Through a series of near-death experiences with overdoses, he admitted that he was finally surrendering to God’s irresistible, compelling love. He had seen that love from many people that reached out to him over the years, especially his own father’s tireless, determined, sacrificial compassion. He seemed to love Jon more than Jon could even love himself. Jon wanted to know why. Why had God spared him? Why was he so dearly loved?
He surrendered to Jesus Christ in baptism on June 3rd and immediately began a passionate pursuit of the Lord. He began a regular voluntary Bible study for new Christians on Monday nights that grew into another on Wednesday nights. His efforts even influenced another study beginning on Saturdays. He baptized a few of his brothers and influenced others to come to Christ through his example. Some 7 men came to know Jesus Christ during Jon’s brief 113 days of ministry.
Jon also believed God had called him into recovery ministry and had begun his Master’s in Social Work at Alabama A&M to contribute to the growth of His Way’s ministry. Everything seemed to finally be an “all go” when it suddenly came to an end on September 24th.
There was once another group of friends and family who felt cheated by a premature death, those who followed Jesus Christ. It seemed just when His popularity was beginning to gain momentum, he too was cut down in His prime. Yet as Jesus spoke his last words from that cruel cross, He said, “It is finished”. His purpose, at only 33 years old, had come to its completion. He had accomplished God’s calling for Him. And just maybe the same was true for Jon.
While people packed a house in Capernaum, listening to Jesus teaching with the hopes of a miraculous physical healing, a group of men rudely interrupted Jesus and cut in line lowering their paralyzed friend before Jesus. In Mark 2:5, Jesus declared to him, “Your sins are forgiven!” That may not have been the reaction the men expected, but Jesus wanted to emphasize how much more significant the spiritual is over the physical. For 113 days, Jon had lived in spiritual wholeness before entering eternity to be with the Lord forever.
Jesus, throughout his ministry emphasized the importance of God’s kingdom people having influence in the lives of others through metaphors like salt and light, and parables emphasizing the fruitfulness God desires for our lives of 30, 60 or even 100 times. More were impacted through Jon’s short 113 days than most Christians accomplish in a full lifetime.
We desire to see Jon’s influence and legacy continue for the Lord. So,with the encouragement of Jon’s family, we have begun the Jon Brown Memorial Fund at His Way, to ensure that what God started through Jon will continue. This fund will help support the ongoing work of His Way as we share the gospel and bring eternal hope to hundreds of men and their families trapped in addiction. It will also help support and supply the His Way library where Jon loved to spend his time.
Consider donating to the Jon Brown Memorial Fund and keep what Jon started going.
Director of Ministry and Chairman of the Board