Athletic training graduate returns as chapel speaker
Joseph Brown, a member of the Erskine College Class of 2014, addressed students, staff, and professors at a chapel gathering Feb. 19. He did not deliver a sermon, but instead spoke about his own life in a testimony called “The Sovereignty of God Over All Things.”
Brown, a cum laude graduate from Whitmire, S.C., majored in athletic training and went on to become a physical therapist. Since he played football in high school, and thought he would like a small school, he considered attending North Greenville University and playing football there. An injury in his senior year halted his football ambitions. “The Lord was working in this development, as well as in people who influenced me,” Brown said.
Brown attended a Rotary Youth Leadership Awards (RYLA) camp at Erskine, and enjoyed the campus. When he began asking about Erskine, “Everyone I asked gave me positive feedback,” he said.
In his life at Erskine and following graduation, Brown moved from shallow friendship, lack of commitment to a local church, and a lack of accountability or vulnerability toward intentional friendships, commitment to a local church, and growth in accountability and vulnerability.
“I’ve grown to trust in God’s sovereignty, His control over all things,” he said, adding, “Today I want to talk about how God has worked in my life.”
Raised in a Pentecostal church where his father played a leadership role, Brown expressed gratitude for having been raised in a Christian family. Owing to his upbringing, he knew that he ought to be in church each Sunday, and he stuck to that during his college years.
However, he “did a lot of church-hopping in college,” getting to church any way and anywhere he could since he did not have a car. Sometimes, if he was really late getting up on Sunday, he would walk up to the ARP Church, he said with a smile. In all his moving around, he missed out on the benefits of accountability that come with commitment to a local church.
Brown said that although he had a great freshman roommate, Jonathan Ashworth (with whom he is still friends), and became a leader on campus, serving as an R.A. for three years, his friendships were often superficial, just as his involvement in BCM, RUF, FCA, and other groups was superficial.
Later, he became friends with Parker Edison as well as with Kevin Adams, who had cerebral palsy. Brown and Edison “sought to serve Kevin any way we could,” Brown said. “It was the first time I was intentional about friendships. Previously the friendships had been pretty shallow.”
After he left Erskine, Brown entered a physical therapy program in Savannah, and eventually committed to a local church and trusted in Christ. Meanwhile, in response to stress in school and in life, he took a year off from graduate school. He began going to church with his roommate, another person God put in his path. “I got plugged in at New Covenant and was exposed to deep theological topics,” he said. He also began listening to sermons about God’s sovereignty.
Explaining his choice of Genesis 3:15—“I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel”—as the scripture reference for his talk, he said, “There is so much wrapped up in this verse.” Not only does this one short verse call to mind the creation, Adam and Eve, their fellowship with God, and their subsequent rebellion—it contains the first promise of the gospel to come.
Brown urged students to seek out godly mentors, to be intentional about friendships, to seek accountability, to be vulnerable, and to pursue Christ. “Trust in Christ—He is our only hope. He is good, He is for us. Look to him and be saved.”
Worship in the Due West ARP Church was led by the Rev. Paul Patrick, chaplain, assisted by the Chapel Music Ensemble and Will Hunter, accompanist.