I have this really great friend and brother in Christ that has traveled this journey with me for many years, from being willful sinners to brothers in Christ. At the time of writing this essay, Ron is still with us sitting in the shell of a body with very little knowledge that he is with us. He has Alzheimer’s disease and has been suffering for years now in the care of a loving family that watches over him. Since we grew together in the Lord it is especially hard for me to see him like that. I pray to God almost daily seeking resolution. Why keep him in that state? If he can’t do anything, then why not just take him home to be with the Lord? It hurts me dearly. At times I will break down in tears because there is absolutely nothing I can do for my friend.
As professional musicians, we both struggled with the temptations of this world including drugs, alcohol, and a litany of sins that I don’t care to mention here. It was the world that we were involved with that offered us a buffet of sinful things. If it were not for the Lord watching over us who knows where we would have landed? My guess would be in the middle of hell. But thanks to the grace of God both of us took a sharp turn towards the Lord and became faithful servants. That does not mean we were angelic in our actions, but that we realized it was by the grace of God that we were somehow called back to Him. Fortunately for both of us, we answered His call.
Our pathways go back for nearly forty years. We watched each other’s children grow up and are now old enough to be grandfathers. We coached each other through addiction and other vices that were not good. I had alcohol issues and he had drug issues. He got himself clean and would work on me to pull me out of my alcoholism. I never got completely clean but there came a time when the Lord got stronger in my life, so alcohol was no longer a vice that I needed to lean upon. My love for the Lord was stronger than my love for alcohol. Besides, I would wake up the next day not knowing who I spoke with the night before. It was probably Ron Brown. He was very patient with me because he understood addiction.
There were also times when he was going through things that I had to be on the other side for him and quietly protect the family from his addiction. It was not just me, there were other great friends that knew and loved Ron. We supported each other as best we could, knowing that we had company in our community of brothers. Whatever drove us to become professional musicians carried something else with it that we constantly had to fight off. Ron and I learned about those forces of evil as we studied the bible quite frequently over quite a span of years. We were blessed to have each other there to lean upon and to grow in the Lord together in spite of our shortcomings.
There was a time when Ron decided to learn how to speak Japanese out of nowhere. He attended LA Community College and learned very quickly how to speak the language. That must have been God’s plan all along because it was not normal how he picked up the language so quickly. It ended up assisting in setting up a ministry going back and forth to Japan several times yearly to spread the gospel over there in a territory that was mostly a Buddhist nation majority. Ron met several Christians from there and traveled the countryside promoting Christianity. It could only have been God to cause such a happening. He would come back home and we would go up into the mountains and pray to God thanking Him for all the things He has done for us.
Ron and I played golf together. We were very competitive. Ron was actually better than I was for years but in the end, I used to get him back. It was not really about golf as much as it was about us sharing our faith and having these godly discussions while trying to beat each other. It is true love when you want to beat someone and at the same time shower them with the greatest of love. Go figure! Whenever two or more get together in the name of Christ we know that He is there between us. All of this happened over many years but as life is passing by, rarely do you notice the passage of time. Not thinking anything would be changing anytime soon you take for granted each other’s presence. Even though we understood the absence of the body present with the Lord, we were young enough not to worry about leaving anytime soon. I never anticipated that he would become absent and living in the body that he would not realize. That never ever was a consideration. That is why seeing him as this hurts me dearly. There is nothing that I can do or say except pray for him each and every day, and for his family.
Now that I no longer have the pleasure of his company, I will pull up some of his recorded albums and tapes and listen to them. He was good at what he did, but we were all good at what we did so we accepted our gifts and gave God the glory. When I listen to his materials now, I see just how good my friend was and is. I always told him how great his music was and really meant it when I said it. But now, I wonder if he really knew how much I appreciated his music. More importantly, if he knows how much I appreciated his friendship and brotherhood in the Lord? It was partially because of him that I became stronger in my faith and a faithful servant of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. It is because of my faith that I do not cry out angrily about how unfair this appears to my mortal eyes. Though I cannot understand what is going on in him currently as he sits there in a body that is perhaps foreign to him by now. I pray that the Lord is in there with him as he is going through this ungodly experience. Believing in God and the Lord, I know God has His reasons and I must surrender to the will of God through Christ, but that does not take the sting out of how I feel for my dear friend.
Even though he might not recognize me anymore when I visit, I pray that the Spirit of God is in there with him and watching over his family and his immortal soul. I want the world to know that there is no better friend than a friend you have in Christ. No matter how things appear on this side of mortality, it is God who is in control over His children. Things such as this are totally incompressible to us, but who are we to judge God. Yes, we are sinners with a history of sin. We know we are unworthy of God’s grace, but He insists upon giving it to us. I love my friend, Ron Brown. I know that when we see each other topside we will share wonderful stories about how the Lord saved us from ourselves. I don’t know what it is like in heaven, but I know that we will one day both be with God in heaven, in spite of being dirty rags and offensive to God. I know that we both accepted the Lord as our Savior so that means that we must leave things in His capable hands. For me, this is personal. But who am I, just another filthy rag unworthy of God’s grace? The fact that He would reach out to us unsavory creatures is beyond reason. I ask for His blessings upon my friend Ron Brown and family. May God’s will be done here on earth as in heaven. Selah!