“Sometimes you need to be more like Mother Teresa and less like Billy Graham.”
That quote pretty much sums up the character of Childers Wesleyan Methodist Church leader Pastor Alan Brown.
Sitting across a table in a coffee shop chatting with Pastor Brown (call me Alan) you get the feeling this is the sort of bloke with who you could share a beer or share a laugh.
Alan and Kerenne Brown made Childers their home in late 2016 and for the couple, coming into the local community was as welcoming and as warm as walking into their own family home.
“Coming from a country community in Victoria we can relate to the people around here,” Alan said.
Now aged 61, Alan became a Christian as a teenager.
“I used to attend youth camps although basically I was a pretty shy person. I recall going to my bunk one night and saying a little prayer and said “God, if you really want me you can have me. It was as simple as that.
“Something within me changed and I experienced a real peace that has never left me,” he said.
“I never went to the church immediately, but I did tell my future wife that if she married me there was a likelihood that I would turn to the ministry one day.”
Alan believes that his former 10 year working life with Social Security (now Centrelink) was a good grounding for him.
It provided life skills and an insight into the lives of ordinary people – pensioners, the unemployed and families doing it tough.
“In my late 20s I felt the time was right to pursue this calling.
“After packing up the family, we had two kids by then, I came out of Bible College in late 1992 and was soon experiencing the first of two trips to Bougainville during the height of civil unrest,” Alan said.
“When I arrived, the locals hadn’t seen a white person for about seven years. Being in a place like that where civil war was raging and people were walking around armed with AK47’s and grenades you get a view of your mortality – an understanding that none of us knows the time and place of our death.
Over his career as a pastor, Alan has ministered in places like Ballart, Melbourne, Hervey Bay, Oxley in Brisbane, Yeppoon and Rockhampton.
He undertook a school chaplaincy role for around 10 years while in the Rockhampton region.
He said being a ‘Chappy’ in schools is vastly different from preaching to a congregation.
“You’re there to care, you’re there to listen. You’re there to provide physical needs such as sustenance. If they need food you do something about it,” Alan said.
Since his appointment in Childers, Alan has also assumed the role of a Police Chaplain working with Childers Police after being inducted into the position earlier this year.
He said while the community may think of police, ambos and other first responders as being immune to the carnage they regularly witness in the course of their work, people need to realise they are only human.
“They are only humans doing a great job. We need to celebrate them more. After all, how many people go to work and put their lives on the line every day?”
Alan said that being the Police Chaplain allowed him to provide support in a number of ways.
“If I know they have had a rough time I can send them a text or make a phone call or ‘accidentally’ drop by their desks.”
A cup of coffee with Pastor Alan Brown can last a long time and cover a lot of territory.
And how does it end? With an invitation of course.
“We welcome anyone to our church. No pressure, drop by and listen or just enjoy a chat and a coffee.”
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