Leroy Brown (not the “bad, bad Leroy Brown” Jim Croce sang about in the 70’s) was a wonderful man. I served with Leroy at a church in Jacksonville Florida in the 1990’s. He was in his late 80’s then.
Leroy was a combination teacher/carpenter. He put things together to make up for starving on a teacher’s salary. As a church leader he always brought a sense of reason and prayer to every situation. He was also a member of the choir, and he loved praising God with music more than most people love their children.
The passion that Leroy had for music blessed and annoyed people…he always had a tune going…mostly lyrics written before the Great Depression. He would sing some obscure, long-forgotten song at the drop of a hat. It was always an interesting time when you rode with Leroy Brown. We once went to the Seafarer’s Ministry at Jacksonville Port to speak with the international crews. Leroy was still singing when I dropped him back at the house.
One Sunday after church, Leroy made some vegetables from the garden he still worked at nearly 90 years old. He served that lunch to Iris, his dear wife, who could barely walk due to age and arthritis. After lunch Leroy took the time to make sure Iris was comfortable, wrapping a blanket around her cold feet, and then kissing her, as he went to lie down for a little nap. It was the end of another day of serving others.
That next morning Iris couldn’t wake her man; it was a glorious morning as Leroy joined children of God around the throne to praise Jesus for the first time in person.
Leroy’s love of music didn’t stop at singing other people’s songs; he also wrote from the center of all that passion for Christ. This was the hymn we sang, written by “good, good Leroy Brown” at his homegoing service; he called it,
My Redemption Story
I wandered in darkness, alone and bewildered,
Not knowing that God loved a sinner like me.
A loving friend told me how God’s love so tender
Brought Christ down from heaven to justify me.
He lived here to love me; He died there to save me.
He justified me when He rose from the tomb.
I know I shall see Him one glorious morning
When all of His children are gathering home.
Like sunlight at midday a light of His Spirit
Shone into my heart and convinced me of sin.
I fell down before him, cried out for mercy;
I gave him my heart and he cleansed it from sin.
My burden was lifted, gave peace beyond measure,
And joy that no mortal could e’er comprehend.
I praise Him forever, my Lord and my Master,
My Saviour, Redeemer, Compassionate Friend.
Hear my lost brother, my poor wayward brother,
Won’t you trust Jesus as your Saviour too?
He’s pleading in heaven beside God, the Father,
New life everlasting he offers to you.
I know Mr. Brown will be writing new lyrics for Jesus for a long time. One of these glorious mornings I will get to hear some of the new stuff!
What are you doing today?
And, at the end of this day, if you saw Jesus face to face, will it be like Leroy Brown, who took his cue from Jesus to serve, rather than take, from this life?