Darren, Megan, Gabriel, Trenton, Elaina and the Critters
- Darren - Set apart by God to lead this home and ministry in a manner that exalts and glorifies Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
- Megan - Most beautiful God-fearing gifted helpmate in the world, mother of three and servant to the hurting, hopeless broken people God brings us as well as serving young disciples in the faith, this woman is incredible and amazing, most valuable part of this ministry.
- Gabriel, Warrior of God, this young man is our oldest son at home, he is 14 years old and in 9th grade. His honesty and compassion are remarkable as is his thirst for knowledge. Gabriel is a quick learner and always learning new things.
- Trenton - Gifted child of God, this young man shows us a side of God that makes you want to be so care-free. Trenton is 12 years old and is diagnosed as having "Pitt Hopkins Syndrome". He is in 6th grade and has far surpassed what the DR's have ever said he could do! He loves fiercely and is sensitive to others pain and anxiety, his expression comes in bursts of emotion.
- Elaina is a beautiful princess, intellectually amazing, at 9 years of age she is in 4nd grade a very talented and gifted student. She loves school and is growing too fast! This little blessing from heaven is full of theatrics and gifted in memorization.
Testimony of Darren Brown
Greetings to you in the name of Jesus Christ our Lord;
What follows is a story, His story; a gospel message, testimony, evidence that God is real, and that He truly loves us, a sinful human race.
My name is Darren Brown; I am a 53-year-old white male, who has competed with the Apostle Paul for claiming the title “Chief of Sinners”.
I choose not to glamorize my past; I’ll just tell you straight and plain, he that has ears, let him hear.
The party scene had its fun time. I would be a liar if I said different. “Party-Hard” was my motto, and party hard I did. I had some laughs and fun time, but it was by no means all fun. Drugs became a way of life. Sex, power, money, gambling, drugs and alcohol held me in their addictive grip.
The events of life that led me to the party scene was dealing with things in life that we all deal with in this world. Reality!!! Reality is this, divorce happens. Cars are bought, wrecked, or sold. Money comes, and money goes. Relationships are there, and they only work if you work at them. Time rolls on and we get older. People in this world tend to serve “What can I get out of it” frame of mind. Grandparents die, friends die. Stepparents die. siblings die. It is this simple, people live and people die. This raised questions in my mind.
What is the meaning of life? Will anybody love and accept me just as I am? How do I fill this deep dark hole inside me? Why do I exist?
Partying didn’t answer these questions, but it did partially cover some pain and uncertainty, as did drugs, sex and being thought of as cool. There was a certain gratification in this lifestyle. The problems with this lifestyle are these:
That feel-good is only temporary.
After the first time, it always takes more to achieve the feel good.
That lifestyle will physically tear your body up.
Every bit of that lifestyle leads to jails, institutions, and death.
That dark empty hole returns.
I lived it; I have seen it, time and time again. If you have been there, you know what I mean. If you haven’t been there, Praise God, and please don’t go there.
Some of my personal trials where these: I was an oddball in high school. I had two friends in high school die in a drunken driving crash on the way home from the senior party. My parents divorced, and didn’t have anything nice to say about one another. Getting my father’s approval was nigh impossible. High school football dream crushed. I have lost many family members to death. Some died of diseases or natural causes, one was murdered, one was a car wreck, and one was a suicide. All were painful to me. I have been to prison 5 times, accumulated scores of felony convictions; I was very close to being locked up forever. Much scorn, anger and disappointment pointed my way. I was looked upon as a failure. All because I was being tough, cool, hardheaded, and not willing to let God be in control. As I look back, even though the party crowd accepted me as long as I had money, booze, or dope. I can see where I really wondered at times if it was the world against me.
Reality isn’t always pretty, but there is an answer!!! Actually that answer was right there with me the whole time, all I needed to do was grab it.
Here is the trip I went on to get right with God. Please remember that I was hardheaded and stubborn. I don’t recommend the exact journey, I took, just the second step with devotion and loyalty.
As a young kid the neighbors would take us kids to church if we wanted to go. I would go, just to get out of chores. The other weekly meeting with God was on Wednesday nights. It was called “Good News Club.” They taught me about God and other Bible characters like Noah, David and Goliath, Daniel, and the one they call Jesus. I didn’t listen all the time, but I was there. I even learned a little song: “Red and yellow, black and white, they are precious in His sight, Jesus loves the little children of the world.” Another thing I learned was a memory verse. John 3:16‘For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.’ That accomplishment earned me a Christian comic book for a prize. I had no idea what exactly they where trying to teach me at that time. I do know that I learned those two things and 25 years later, I not only remembered that chorus and verse, but I remembered the love and acceptance those teachers were giving me, something I was searching for until I finally surrendered to God.
Step # 2 for me was at the age of 16. This cute little Christian high schoolgirl invited me to Bible Camp for the weekend. Her parents were willing to pay my way. To this day it amazes me that this little Christian girl would invite this wild, tobacco chewing, cigarette smoking, beer drinking, hooligan to Church Camp. You better believe I had other reasons for deciding to go, and it had nothing to do with God. This weekend was a major influence on my life. Everybody there accepted me for who I was. They truly acted in love toward me. It blew my mind. The messages and testimonies that I heard there had my insides churning. I wanted what those people had. I went forward that last night and prayed “Lord, I don’t know much about you, but I like what I see and have heard. I am definitely a sinner, and I believe you are God’s Son and that you died on the cross for me. Please come into my heart and love me.” Jesus did just that and I could really tell He was there. I was happy and joyous and felt more complete then ever. I even gave up my tobacco habits. My language cleaned up and I truly believed that I was a new creature in Christ. I’ll never forget that weekend.
At this point in my life, I was all of a sudden a divided man. One part of me wanted God, and the other wanted my old lifestyle back. That old lifestyle that I was familiar with was comfortable in many ways. This was a fierce battle inside of me. Instead of talking to God or anyone else about it, I just let my old self win. What I didn’t understand at the time is that God doesn’t quit. He stayed after me. My rebellion against God started years of being tossed back and forth like the waves of the sea. God tried everything to show me that He loved and cared for me, but I wasn’t realizing it. I was looking for love in all the wrong places, and all the wrong ways. I was in and out of relationships. One of those relationships brought me a beautiful daughter named Sheree. I never was much of a Dad to her. God even put beautiful Christian women in my path. I was always attracted to them. They would always invite me to Church. I would go, and sometimes it would have a positive affect on me. Sometimes, I even acknowledged God and meant to live accordingly. Every time I thought I was making progress, WHAM!! My old desires and addictions would come back to seduce me. I emotionally and financially hurt several of these Christian ladies. Their walks with God were damaged. Men, I’ll tell you right now, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Actions are what is needed, not intentions. I always meant well, but I never did well. I would run away, relocate to another town or state, and start the cycle all over again. I often committed petty crimes to finance these escapes. I often returned in handcuffs, in the backseat of a police car. God sent many Christian men in my life to help teach me. I would listen, but not learn. I read very little of the Bible, and hardly ever prayed. This went on for years; relationship after relationship, prison term after prison term. I was running from responsibility, I was running from God, I was running from what I was created for. That, my friends, is like chasing the wind.
This last go-round I truly wanted to marry Cathy, whom I thought was my gift from God. Cathy said yes when I proposed to her. I thought I had my problems whipped. I still wasn’t right with God. Our relationship was pulling her away from God. We never did get married. He was there for us, but we were not respecting His way of life. Cathy became pregnant. We were not financially ready for that. Finances were the only reason we hadn’t been married yet. The pressure was on and I cracked. My addictions and old ways of escape reared their ugly head. I opened the door to trouble, and trouble came on in; alcohol, gambling, drugs, & another woman. My relationship with Cathy was done. Who could ask any woman to put up with me? Cathy went above and beyond what was required in trying to help me get my life in order. My guilt drove me away. I started to run, and then I came back to be there when our son Devin was born. That event almost pulled me together, but I let my addictions pull me away. This was the worst inner battle that I ever went through. God wanted control, and I wanted control. The longer I stayed away from God the more difficult it was going to be for me to humble myself to come back to him and make amends through seeking His forgiveness. This battle sent me on the craziest, most nonsensical trip of my life. That trip brought me to Iowa.
In Iowa, I stole a car. I headed south, and while driving across Mississippi, my guilt and agony caused me to cry out to God, “If you want me stopped, you are going to have to do something because I can’t seem to stop myself”. Four hours later I was arrested for trying to evade a routine roadblock. (That is another story by itself). Tell me that God doesn't answer prayer. My first three months in jail I continued to fight against God. (Once again, this is another story). God finally got me alone in a solitary cell. I finally cried out to God again. I talked and cried and I just didn’t feel like God was listening. I knew He had to be there because I knew that He had let His Son die for me. Then I started to think that maybe I had waited to long. I became silent and being shocked at the possibility of that thought I had to meditate on this. Had I waited too long? All of a sudden this chorus was loud and clear in my head, “I got to know right now, do you love me, are you going to love me forever? Do you need me; are you going to need me forever?” I knew immediately that God wanted a sincere commitment from me, no more games. I said, “YES LORD, YES, I AM YOURS FOREVER”. He came flooding into my heart with love and forgiveness and I was so excited and happy that I began to sing and dance. I will never regret my decision to follow Jesus. God has given me an amazing peace and joy inside of me that doesn’t go away. It seems the more I read the Bible and the more that I pray and the more that I share what God has done for me the more happy and excited that I get. I have a love for people and a desire to share God’s love and mercy with people that doesn't go away. God has helped me change the way that I think and that has changed the way that I act. I actually feel complete and that I have a purpose in life. That hole inside of me is gone because God has filled it full of His love. God raised me from THE DEAD as far as I am concerned. Today, I have been in a healthy relationship with God through Jesus Christ for 22 years. I am the happiest I have ever been.
While I was in prison God brought me a mentor in Jim Hooley. Jim came and visited me regularly. Through him, God taught me a lot about being a Christian man. I signed up for every free Bible study course that I could get my hands on. The amount of time I was able to spend in God’s word over this two-year period in prison helped transform me by the renewing of my mind.
By a Miracle from God, I was given parole. I lived with the Hooley’s for six months, was working a regular job, and then moved into my own place. God made it possible for me to pay all my fines and restitution in Iowa. I was released from parole early because I had no violations. During this same time frame, God used me in helping start a youth group called “Break Out”. That grew to kids of all ages and an adult’s class. God blessed us and we were continually growing. That ministry ran strong for 3 years and I still have many active relationships with those people we were ministering too, this ministry even had an effect of a set of parents to a couple of our “Break out” kids coming too Christ.
During my 2nd year out of prison having met with Cathy and Devin several times I started realizing that my relationship with Cathy was not going anywhere. God gave us a child, but the relationship was not the promised one I was supposed to be waiting for. I started really focusing on ministries, preaching revivals, taking people into my home, feeding the hungry. I was blessed in many ways. After preaching one revival, I was introduced to Megan.
Megan has been living for Christ since childhood. After dating awhile, God revealed to me that this was the woman He created for me. We were married after a year of courtship. Megan completes me in the most amazing ways. Megan jumped on board all of the ministries and works beside me still to this day with joy and enthusiasm, well most of the time, chuckle, chuckle. Megan and I have been married 17 years now. We have two boys, and a a girl. We work together to bring God glory. God restored my relationship with my daughter Sheree, she is serving Christ, through her tribulations and has blessed us with 3 grandchildren. Glory to God in the Highest!! I really enjoy this relationship.
We have a special spot in our heart for youth. We have taken that so far as to raise children God has brought to us. Eric Gideon lived with me, then us, for a total of four years. He made a decision for Christ his senior year, served four years in the Marines, and is a very gifted and responsible young man. Eric now struggles in his faith, but we still love him dearly and strive to be a blessing to him as he has been to us. Stephen , Ben, Kenny, Tyler, they all stayed for a time as we tried to minister to them. Some embraced Christ, and some haven’t. They still have our prayers and affection.
Megan and I were active members of First Christian Church in Washington, Ia.; where we served whole-heartedly as youth Pastors. We would go and preach and teach wherever God called us. God had blessed us and we wanted to give back to Him. Yet a part of my old self came back and I started gambling again, I would fight it and go for a few months and then succumb to the temptation. God wanted me to be set free, but I played with it. This was starting to take its toll on my marriage and family. I went to my Senior Pastor for help, he stood with me in prayer, but I still gave in occasionally. The church relived me of my youth Pastors position due to my battle with gambling. I just couldn’t seem to get victory. My heart hurt for those young people because I had disappointed them and they deserved better from me. This situation caused me to seek God even more. (God chastens those whom he loves) In this seeking I was truly set free!(another great story). Once again Megan and I were willing to go wherever God sends us.
We continued in our membership at First Christian as God brought me freedom, healing and restoration through His love. I then started travelling the nation visiting homeless shelters and giving testimony about God's love mercy and grace. Having did that for a year, God called us to serve in Pennsylvania developing a discipleship house, where we served at for 2 years. We lived in a big farmhouse that had 13 beds for people desiring to be disciplined in their walk with God. There is a men's ministry still operating there today. We then got called back to Iowa to help Megan's parents who are having health issues and can not take care of their place on their own. I started doing ministry in my community, helping those in need and God brought me to Affordable Metal Manufacturing where I worked as a salesman, as God prepared me for the next part of our faith journey. After 2 years at Affordable metal Manufacturing God Called me back into full-time ministry travelling the county sharing His story as He set things in motion for us to build our current outreach in Washington, IA.
Over the last 2 years 2019-2021 we have built The Lighthouse Center a outreach Ministry to the homeless and hurting in Washington IA and surrounding areas. This Ministry has been blessed by God and is incredible. We strive to teach people the overcoming life in Christ. I am also the current Pastor at Grace Community Church in Washington, IA.
Today I am truly set free even more than the beginning. I have an incredible peace with God that surpasses all understanding and joy, oh glorious joy. I know my purpose, I know God loves me and I am special to Him. The void is gone. I was once bound in sin, spiritually dead. Now I am alive and active for Gods Kingdom. I now have a new life through the precious Blood of Jesus Christ.
If you are really hearing this testimony, and you feel a churning inside of you, God wants you to be a part of His kingdom; He wants you set totally free, He has plans for you. Please give yourself to Him. Do not run like I did, that brings misery and pain. Submit to God, you will receive His unconditional love and acceptance. He will heal your spirit and give you unlimited joy, all He requires is that you trust and obey.
If you are already saved, which I believe a lot of you are, I want to tell you a little something about your own testimony that a lot of people don’t realize. The best testimony possible is someone that has committed to God at a young age and stayed in a close relationship with Him through all their trials and tribulations. That is what Jesus did, and that is the most powerful testimony of all. You may have already made a good start on that testimony, praise the Lord and keep on going. Live for Jesus, stay strong for the Lord and live to glorify Him. Anyone can strive for the most awesome testimony, to be like Jesus. I am doing well and will win in Jesus, but I went about my relationship with Jesus in a very difficult way. Go the easier route and totally submit to Jesus today.Here I am Lord, Use me.
Life has meaning and God is the answer. Give Him your loyalty, truly study God’s Word and pray. You will not be disappointed.